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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

Federal Accountability Act June 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, this week Parliament took one great step to ending cronyism when the special legislative committee looking at the accountability act adopted NDP amendments including the creation of a stronger public appointments commission. The commission will oversee and report on the appointments made by ministers in the current government and all future governments as well.

Will the government do the right thing and support the creation of the appointments commission or will it follow the lead of the pouting Prime Minister who wanted to take his bat and ball and go home?

Canada Post Corporation June 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, despite numerous election promises by the Conservatives to keep the postal sorting station in the Quebec City area open, that station and its 100 or so employees have been abandoned. As we speak, the close down process has started.

This government is very quick to abandon not only the citizens of the greater Quebec City area, but also its promises. Time is running out.

Will the government reconsider the decision to close down this postal sorting station and finally listen to the people of the area affected by this closure?

Business of Supply May 30th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker proudly described Canada's history with respect to the cultural sector. He noted the authors, the painters and the musicians, and all of the cultural initiatives of which Canada is very proud. Does the hon. member believe these achievements happened by accident? Does he not see a link between Canada's support for writers, the publishing sector, the music industry, the musicians, the composers, the artists and all of the broad spectrum of the cultural sector and the creation of the CBC? Does he think this happens by accident or is it not the result of intervention in the market to ensure the development of a healthy cultural sector that has been fraying at the edges over the previous government's term and hopefully will not under the current government?

Business of Supply May 30th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, certainly what we do not want to see is a continuation of the patronage appointments that have undermined the credibility of our public broadcaster. Hopefully the hon. member will agree with me on that.

In terms of management decisions, it is clear that the previous government underfunded our national broadcaster so that there have been cuts and sell-offs that are undermining its continued efficacity. That is what we need to see changed.

Business of Supply May 30th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my comments, this is a devastating blow for not only the dozens of people who work in this department but for CBC production overall. The skills that people develop in makeup, in set design and in costume design are skills that benefit not only the CBC and CBC programming but the entire cultural sector. Many people have been trained in these skills at the CBC and then have moved on to private production or to other cultural outlets. This is a very short-sighted move by the CBC. It is in our interests as a country to see this decision reversed.

Business of Supply May 30th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would argue that the strength of the cultural sector in Toronto reflects decisions made by previous generations to establish a separate identity by investing in our cultural sector and by insisting that we intervene in the economy and create organizations like the CBC, the Canada Council for the Arts and Heritage Canada in terms of investing in our community.

Unless we are prepared to invest in our culture and to create rules that strengthen opportunities for our cultural expression, then we are opening the door for all of our cultural access to come from south of the border and we will not be able to reflect the stories that we need to tell each other.

Business of Supply May 30th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today on the important motion put forward by the member for Ottawa—Vanier. My riding of Parkdale—High Park in Toronto is home to many artists and others who make their living in the cultural sector. They are our friends and neighbours and they make our community a unique and indeed better place for us to live.

Former NDP critic Wendy Lill once said that “art is the soul of any great nation”. She was right, and for the city of Toronto, it is also more than that. Culture and the arts represent jobs for Canadians. In Toronto, 25,000 jobs are tied to film and television production alone. Hundreds more are in the broader cultural sector.

Toronto recently commissioned a cultural plan for the city which clearly outlines that much of Toronto's wealth is “generated by people who work with ideas, and studies have shown that such people prefer to live and work where they find a vibrant cultural scene”. It goes on to say, “In fact, Toronto's cultural sector is the dynamo that turns the biggest economic motor in the country”.

However, unlike commodities that rely on non-renewable resources, the creative sector is in fact an infinite resource, and I submit that it is the key to a thriving 21st century economy. Our mayor, David Miller, recently said that Toronto's cultural sector is a $1 billion industry but that we need to do much better in this sector. For example, he said, there are federal tax incentives that are “so out of whack that it actually makes more sense for producers to shoot a show about Toronto in Regina or Winnipeg”. He said:

When you undermine the viability of the industry in Toronto, you undermine the industry in the whole drive hard-working men and women...out of their chosen profession...[and] you reduce the talent and diversity of that talent throughout the country....

The cultural sector is also one of those unique economic engines that leaves a very small ecological footprint. Investment in the arts creates jobs, strengthens our national identity and gives us all our voice in an environmentally sustainable way. It is a win-win if ever I could think of one.

Despite this, the arts and cultural sector has been under attack after years of cutbacks, deregulation, unfair trade rules and partisan patronage appointments to our public broadcaster. That is why in this caucus we not only support the motion today but have proposed an amendment to strengthen it. That is also why our caucus has proposed substantial amendments to the federal accountability act, to stem the tide of partisan patronage appointments that tarnished the reputation of the CBC under the previous government.

The decision of the CBC to cancel programs like This is Wonderland is having a profound effect on employment, but also on our collective identity. Now there is no hour-long, Toronto-made drama on the air. As well, the decision of the CBC to cut its design department, which will axe almost 100 jobs and inevitably affect the quality of our public broadcaster, is also profoundly short-sighted.

I was pleased to join with CBC employees last Friday to oppose these cuts, but it is appalling to think that if these cuts are allowed to go through, the CBC will no longer be able to design sets or make costumes, props or special effects in the Canadian epicentre of English public broadcasting. They will no longer be able to produce complete shows inside the CBC. This is yet another CBC sellout and we are losing our public broadcaster cut by cut. We need to have our Minister of Canadian Heritage step forward and stop this sellout.

We need a strong cultural sector in order to tell our stories as Canadians and to protect our sovereignty. The spirit of this motion, as amended, needs to be respected by the government and the minister needs to take this seriously. If so, we will have gone a long way to protecting and enhancing our cultural rights and our cultural sector.

I am calling on the minister to seize the opportunity today to signal to the CRTC that TV drama content requirements be imposed on Canada's private broadcasters and that we strengthen our public broadcaster. As a former CRTC commissioner and a television executive, the minister, we know, understands the industry well. In 2004 she recognized the need for stable funding, saying that “they have to have confidence and stability that those dollars of support are going to be there year after year”.

It is also my hope that the minister will push for increased long term investment in the CBC. It is the only way that we can tell our own stories and protect our own jobs in the cultural sector.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 May 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is a serious blow to the thousands of families in Parkdale—High Park and right across Toronto who need a child care program to ensure their children are properly taken care of while they are at work. Money to parents with young children is fine but it is not a child care program.

Most experts in the transit field know the best way to increase ridership is to improve service with investments to capital upgrades and infrastructure. The Toronto Board of Trade, in its report “Strong City, Strong Nation”, highlighted the city's infrastructure deficit and warned that it could jeopardize Toronto's economic competitiveness. The Toronto Board of Trade recognizes that investment in transit should be a number one priority. Unfortunately, it does not make the Conservatives' top five.

The population and economy of the Toronto region is growing but transit infrastructure is not. Toronto is an economic engine for the country and provides billions of dollars in equalization payments. A tax break for commuters will not build more subway lines nor will it dramatically increase ridership which are keys to growing our economy while improving environmental sustainability.

Roughly $1.4 billion of taxpayer money goes to the oil and gas industry each year. Surely this year, with rising fuel costs for consumers, some of that money could have been invested in transit for our large cities. Just this week the Toronto City Summit Alliance released its report, “Time for a Fair Deal”. I was delighted to be at the press conference that launched the report but shocked at some of its findings.

Employment insurance, the first level of our social safety net, is in tatters and yet this budget is silent. It contains no provisions to address the crisis that only 19% of women now qualify for employment insurance in Toronto and it fails to make EI easier for workers. In fact, only 22% of unemployed workers in the greater Toronto area are receiving benefits. The government talks about a fiscal imbalance between provinces and the federal government but we know there is an imbalance between those who have and those who have not. This is perhaps most obvious in the city of Toronto.

Politics is about values and it is about priorities that get reflected in budgets. This budget shows many of its priorities have failed Parkdale—High Park in the city of Toronto. It fails to put our city on the path--

Budget Implementation Act, 2006 May 18th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I stand this morning to express my disappointment in this budget. With massive federal surpluses, the new government could have invested in communities across Canada, such as those in my riding of Parkdale—High Park.

The government could have made health, safety and the vitality of cities like Toronto a priority. It could have invested real new money in transit for infrastructure to better serve people and the environment. It could have invested in our children by making early learning and child care a priority. It could have indicated a desire to reform employment insurance to ensure that all those who are temporarily unemployed would be covered.

In short, politics is all about priorities and it is about values. The Conservative budget showed where its values lie and where its priorities lie. Tax cuts for the oil and gas industry take priority over real investment in our communities, and prisons take priority over prevention. Pollution and its health impacts will go up while environmental initiatives will go down. Student debt will go up while the taxes for the wealthy will go down. Child care wait lists will go up while quality transit will go down.

My priorities are different. After 13 long years of neglect and failure to invest by the former government in our families, the Harper government has undercut the development of a comprehensive, fledgling national child care program in its 2006 budget.

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan May 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, Afghanistan, no doubt, is a country that needs assistance and I strongly support helping the people of Afghanistan. However, Canada is in Afghanistan, thanks to the previous government, in a combat role, a counter-insurgency role under U.S. command as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Many Afghans, including the Afghan Women's Organization, do not support Canada's combat role because it interferes with peace, security and rebuilding. I will vote against the motion tonight.

Why is the government ignoring the wishes of so many Afghan people and the majority of Canadians who want to return to security and peace building but not a counter-insurgency mission?