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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was clause.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Parkdale—High Park (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Situation in Sudan October 3rd, 2006

Mr. Chair, one of the keys in Sudan surely has to be the provision of security. We have the resources and the ability to provide peacekeeping troops in Darfur.

For there to be any kind of peace and for there to be the opportunity for aid to be given to the people who so desperately need it there has to be security.

This is an opportunity for Canada. We have the resources. We want to ensure that people are not unnecessarily losing their lives in Darfur and that we can provide security for them through peacekeeping troops.

Situation in Sudan October 3rd, 2006

Mr. Chair, yes, in general terms the principles of it may apply here. However, it is something that we need to flesh out a little more fully to really relate to the specifics of this situation.

The important thing here is not the semantics and not the definition. The important thing here is the reality on the ground for the people who are living this terrible tragedy in Darfur.

The question is not whether one complies with one definition or another, but whether governments like Canada have the courage and the resolve to act. That will be the testament as to whether or not we have lived up to our obligation internationally.

Situation in Sudan October 3rd, 2006

Mr. Chair, I do not know that there was really a question. I heard an intent on the part of the parliamentary secretary to take the debate seriously. Hopefully, that means there is action coming from this debate, that Canada will live up to its moral obligation in the world to not only express outrage about the crisis in Darfur, but to act. That action needs to be on a diplomatic level and on a security level. As well, that action needs to assist the people who have been so devastated by this genocide in slow motion, as others this evening have so eloquently described it.

Situation in Sudan October 3rd, 2006

Mr. Chair, it is a pleasure to participate in this important debate on the terrible tragedy in Darfur.

As others have referenced, we saw thousands of people around the world on September 17, including a large contingent from my city in Toronto, assembled to assert their responsibility to protect the innocent victims of international conflicts. This means that Canada needs to do much more in Darfur.

It is hard to imagine that a crisis, which we have heard so much about, could get worse than it already is. As we have heard tonight, in the last two months alone, another 50,000 people have been displaced. This is in addition to the many thousands of girls and women who have been raped, the over 450,000 who have been killed and the more than two million who have been displaced. These statistics are numbing. We feel we are in a kind of a sleepwalking state because we have heard these before in other countries, in other situations. Words of outrage are not enough for us to express in the House and for others to express around the world.

The African Union has agreed to extend its mission of 7,000 troops and it needs more funding. As Canada, as are others around the world, is now in the shadow of the genocide that took place in Rwanda, surely the wealthier nations of the world have to be asking themselves if they can do more. Clearly the answer is a resounding, yes, we not only can but we must do more to stop this terrible tragedy.

Canada needs to convince the Sudanese government that UN forces are necessary at the end of the African Union's mission. Canada must commit to participating in the UN mission in Darfur. Canada has the military and the fiscal capacity to do so. We know that. Canada must lead through example. Committing now to participating in a UN force will also encourage other nations to commit early to a UN force and send a strong signal to Sudan that the world is serious this time about ending the slaughter and protecting the vulnerable in Darfur.

Only one in three rebel groups has signed the Darfur peace agreement. We also need to negotiate to ensure that the groups that have not signed the peace accord do so.

Canada cannot make excuses. We need to do absolutely everything possible to ensure a swift result to a conflict that has already gone on far too long.

Business of Supply September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the hon. member opposite may feel some frustration that the people of Canada exercised their democratic right to vote her party out of government, but I think her real frustration should be with her party, who after 13 years of majority governments and surplus budgets reneged on promises that it had made to Canadians year after year after year. That should be her real frustration.

Business of Supply September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I remind the member that Margaret Thatcher was a woman. It did not mean that she believed in women's equality. The issue we are talking about are organizations that are feminist in nature, that believe in women's equality, that promote and want to advance women's equality. That is where the majority of women in this country are at. They believe that we should be moving further along toward women's equality.

There are so many women and men in my riding who tell me about the difficulties they have finding child care. Even if they could find their way to the top of a list of 300 people waiting for child care in their neighbourhood, they cannot afford the $1,300 plus that it would cost to pay for child care every month. These are the very real bread and butter issues that women and indeed families across Canada are concerned about.

Does it mean that every family, every woman in fact, believes the same thing? Of course not. In a democracy there is a diversity of opinion.

The facts speak for themselves when we see where women place their votes in elections. Generally, they tend to vote less for Conservative parties. That is borne out in election after election because they want a party that stands for women's rights and women's equality.

Business of Supply September 28th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in today's important debate.

The women in my riding are worried because of the actions of this government. Unfortunately, some of our worst fears have been confirmed. This government wants to do away with the progress we have made on women's rights.

But it is not surprising that millions of dollars are being cut from essential programs and that Status of Women Canada is also at risk. It is not surprising because this government, which only recently came to power, has done everything it can to hit important programs and policies that help women and their families in Canada.

This is not surprising from a government that killed the meagre beginnings of a national child care program.

Year after year and election after election, we were promised that such a program would be created. In 1993, 1997 and 2000, the former Liberal governments promised us help and failed to deliver in spite of majority governments and surplus budgets. Finally, after enough pressure from more New Democrat MPs, we were seeing the beginning of such a national program.

It was not surprising that we would see a cut to women's programs from a Conservative government whose committee chairs are all men and whose caucus is made up of just 11% women MPs. I am proud to stand on this side of the House with strong women's voices in the NDP caucus, more than 40%, and we will do even better next time.

It is not surprising that these Conservatives would cut programs to some of the most vulnerable in our society. It is not surprising from a party that believes our foreign policy should move so drastically away from our proud peacekeeping tradition and move closer to that of George W. Bush.

This anti-insurrection war, with its search-and-destroy operations in southern Afghanistan, is a bad mission for Canada. There is no resolution in sight, and this mission is not bringing peace to Afghanistan.

It came as no surprise this week that the government announced millions of dollars in cuts to women's programs.

We have a Prime Minister who prefers war to dialogue and political solutions.

That is why I speak in favour of the motion presented today. The motion is important because of the work of Status of Women Canada.

Status of Women Canada promotes gender equality and the full participation of women in the economic, social, cultural, and political life of Canada. It focuses on improving women's economic autonomy and well-being, eliminating systemic violence against women and children, and advancing women's human rights. It works to provide Canadians with strengthened and more equitable public policy by conducting gender based analysis and promoting its application throughout the federal government. It supports the work of women's organizations and other equality-seeking organizations.

I agree with all of these goals and so do women I speak with in my riding. My question to government members is this: which of these goals do they not support? How many of these priorities are expendable to the Conservative caucus here in the House?

This government plans to cut 40% of Status of Women Canada's budget. These funds would have been used to develop policies, communicate with Canadians, and provide vital subsidies to volunteer organizations that lack funds.

Apparently, there is no money for Status of Women Canada and the important work it does, even though there is a $13 billion surplus and even though we are giving over a billion dollars in subsidies to the oil industry, which has more money than it knows what to do with. If this government really wanted to cut the fat, that is where it would start.

This motion is ironic, perhaps even cynical, because it was put forward by the Liberals. During their three majority mandates, the Liberals never kept their promises about daycare, and they categorically refused to legislate pay equity.

This motion comes from the same Liberal Party which, when in power, delivered the biggest cutbacks in history to transfer payments for health and education.

It left Canadians without a national housing program, the only industrialized country in the world without one; and of course this continues with the current government.

It reduced eligibility for employment insurance and saw child poverty rise under its watch.

Oh, yes, we know the Liberals were going to do it, but 13 years just was not enough, and if they had only had another chance. I do not buy that and Canadians did not buy it either.

That betrayal meant that we live in a country in which, despite its great wealth, despite its natural abundance in human capacity, we still see one in five Canadian women living in poverty. That is 2.8 million women who are struggling to get by and struggling to feed and clothe their children.

During a briefing for the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women, Status of Women Canada discussed two important areas in which Canada is not making enough progress.

Women are more likely to be poor because of a number of factors, including single parenthood, disabilities, immigration and racial discrimination. In Toronto, in my riding, the poorest people are often women. They show great courage in their daily struggle to survive.

Nevertheless, despite the important information that Status of Women Canada provided to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women, she said, and I quote, “Our government is not a government that keeps institutions alive just for the sake of keeping them alive”.

Perhaps it should not be surprising that an institution which is providing such sobering facts about women and poverty should be threatened with silence, this from a Prime Minister who made these cuts with no consultation and no debate and from a government that has cut the court challenges program that helps women and others, such as linguistic minorities, access funding to test equality cases.

As I stated in this House yesterday, what arrogance. It is this controlling nature that deeply disturbs us.

I urge this House to support the motion before us today, which rightfully chides the new government for failing to recognize the importance of women in Canadian society, in spite of the fact that it is presented by a party that so often failed Canadian women when it was in power.

Still, we must stand together today and stand up to a government that is rolling back the clock on women's equality even before we fully got there, a government that is clearly taking this country in the wrong direction.

Carol McGregor September 27th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, my friend and long-time colleague Carol McGregor passed away last Saturday in Toronto after a brief struggle with cancer.

Carol was courageous throughout her life. As an advocate for human rights, especially people with disabilities, she knew how to organize support and make the powerful very uncomfortable. That is why I believe Carol McGregor would have been furious with the cuts announced by the government on Tuesday.

Some find it easy to dismiss the cuts as small, with $1 billion out of $210 billion in federal spending, cuts already decided on by the Liberals. However, these cuts were made with no consultation or debate except with a Chicago consulting firm at a cost of $24 million. What arrogance.

These cuts represent huge chunks of already meagre budgets and hurt the most vulnerable people. They are not fat to be trimmed.

We owe Carol McGregor a debt of thanks. Given the cuts this week, we certainly have to rededicate ourselves to continue her struggle.

Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge Act, 2006 September 26th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite has described the history of how the government has betrayed the softwood lumber industry and how it has sold out Canadian communities. We have heard in great detail in many debates in this House about its sorry record. We know about all the money that was levied illegally against Canadian firms and now some of that money is coming back to these firms.

Does the hon. member have a view on why the federal government did not stipulate that this money should have gone back, not to the corporations but to the communities that were so hard hit by the U.S. tariffs that were imposed on them, the communities that lost jobs when saw mills closed and that have paid the price by this lack of support from the federal government?

Afghanistan September 22nd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, aside from the minister's personal attacks, Afghan women tell us that life is getting worse, not better. Today I heard from Afghan women in Canada. Only 12% of women in Afghanistan have access to medical care. Many die from complications during pregnancy. Women are still subjected to forced marriage and abduction. We know that we cannot destroy terrorism by bombing villages.

Is it not time to refocus this mission on building peace and bringing real security to all Afghan women, and not waging war?