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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

Business of Supply May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I want to draw to the hon. member's attention the statement by the Ontario College of Family Physicians, which conducted a comprehensive review of the effects of pesticides on human health. Following this review, the College of Family Physicians said:

--the review shows consistent links to serious illnesses such as cancer, reproductive problems and neurological diseases, among others. The study also shows that children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides.

I know the hon. member's colleague likes to blame the victim, that it is all about diet and anti-depressants and weight, and he says that over the last 10 years there is not a large increase in cancer, but I suggest that we go back to before the beginning of the use of pesticides, that is, well prior to Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring. We would have to go back to a pre-pesticide era to really measure the extent of the effects of these carcinogens.

Why does the member advocate rights for pesticides, that is, that they are innocent until proven guilty, rather than agreeing with the Canadian Cancer Society, the Ontario College of Family Physicians and many other reputable scientists in saying that we will weigh in on the side of health and on the side of our children?

Business of Supply May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that what is being proposed is not to affect agricultural use of pesticides.

Let us do a cost benefit analysis. Let us put on one side the ability of someone to have unfettered right to use pesticides and to have an unnaturally pristine lawn. On the other side is the cost to human health. Some children will have neurological damage and some families will be unable to conceive as a result of pesticide exposure.

We must err on the side of safety, especially when we are dealing with cosmetic use of pesticides. With this intention, we are not dealing with agricultural use.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, it may be that not all of the scientific data is 100% complete, but I would remind the hon. member that bodies like the Canadian Cancer Society, acting in the best interests of all Canadians, are urging that we ban pesticides. There is very strong indication that pesticides are linked to ill health. Surely the obligation is to prove that chemicals are completely safe as opposed to waiting until all the epidemiological evidence is complete, at the cost of lives and health of our citizens, before making the kind of ironclad decision as the hon. member is suggesting.

Business of Supply May 16th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased and proud to stand today and support the motion brought forward by the NDP. I want to congratulate my party for proposing a ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides. This is a very important proposal. I am very pleased to be here in support of this on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Parkdale—High Park.

There is a huge concern about the environment. I have had many people call me specifically with concerns about the environment. I am very proud to be part of a party that would bring forward a measure such as this to deal with pesticides.

Rachel Carson, the author who wrote the book Silent Spring back in 1962, first documented a terrifying record of environmental harm caused by pesticides. This was a groundbreaking work and it led to the modern environmental movement.

We are talking today about pesticides. As others have said, pesticides are not produced naturally. They are synthetic toxic chemicals that are deliberately spread over large areas. They are poisonous to people because they are designed to kill living things.

What are the health impacts of pesticides? Pesticides have been linked to cancer. The incidence of childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, doubles when landscaping pesticides are used around the home.

The Canadian Cancer Society says:

Since the ornamental use of pesticides has no countervailing health benefit and has the potential to cause harm, we call for a ban on the use of pesticides on lawns and gardens.

Pesticides have also been linked to skeletal abnormalities and to immune system damage. The pesticide chemical malathion has been shown to weaken white blood cells that attack cancer cells and viral infections.

Pesticides have been linked to neurological damage. Pesticides are often neuro-toxins, adversely impacting brain development. There are reproductive effects. Pesticides can be found in semen and linked to sperm abnormalities. They can be linked to increased miscarriage rates and birth defects. They are linked to difficulty in conceiving and bearing children. Chronic exposure to pesticides can cause infertility.

With the growing evidence that many chemical pesticides are linked to cancer, birth defects and other devastating illnesses, it is time the federal government acted to protect all Canadians and the environment from these poisons.

While these chemicals may keep our backyards and public spaces looking green, the problem is they are seeping into our soil, leaching into our water and being absorbed by our homes, our bodies and our children. That is simply unacceptable. We owe it to our children to ensure they are growing up and playing in the safest possible environment.

The science is in. I just described how pesticides have been linked to cancer, skeletal abnormalities, neurological damage and reproductive effects. Pesticide manufacturers need to prove their products are safe before they can be marketed to the Canadian public.

The time for debate has passed. It is time for concrete action by the federal government to ban the unnecessary use of these chemicals now. Currently, only Australia, Italy, France, Belgium and the U.S. use more pesticides per capita than Canada. Again, remember the Canadian Cancer Society has called for a ban of pesticides.

We are not dealing with agricultural pesticides. We are not dealing with all kinds of pesticide use. We are dealing with pesticides for cosmetic use. Over a hundred municipalities and other jurisdictions have already made the decision to ban cosmetic pesticides. Not one of those jurisdictions has decided to reverse that decision once it has been made.

I am here on behalf of the citizens I represent in Parkdale—High Park to say, as strongly as I can, that we banned the use of cosmetic pesticides in the city of Toronto. I urge the House to ban cosmetic pesticides across Canada.

Business of Supply May 11th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, my riding of Parkdale—High Park is in downtown Toronto. The citizens I represent are very concerned about climate change. They talk to me about the health concerns they have, the asthma, the premature deaths as a result of climate change.

The previous government did very little on climate change. It was the budget negotiated by the NDP, our party, that put almost $1 billion into addressing climate change issues.

The Conservative government, frankly, is doing even less than the previous government wanted to do. While the government is abandoning the climate change protocol supported by over 180 countries that want to take action on climate change, why is it that it is now allying itself with half a dozen countries that want to do nothing on climate change? Will the member answer that for me, please?

Waterfront Protection May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about my riding of Parkdale--High Park, with its beautiful western Toronto waterfront. The good weather brings out families who love to play and relax there.

Many residents from my riding, though, are concerned about the future of the western beaches, and I share their concerns. We cannot allow development and the runoff from cars to further pollute and endanger our western beaches.

The western beaches area belongs to all of the people of Toronto and should be developed for everyone, so as to preserve its natural heritage as much as possible.

The federal government has a role to play by financing a breakwall, which will protect the adjacent water and the land. Today I call on this government to do just that.

The recent passing of Jane Jacobs has highlighted the importance of people-centred places in our urban environment. Parkdale--High Park, and indeed all of Toronto, will only be as great as its people and its places, places like the western waterfront, the jewel of our community.

Government Contracts May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. The government is planning on making it easier, not harder, to take advantage of the system. Canadians paid millions of dollars to get to the bottom of Liberal corruption and now the unelected minister is running roughshod over the recommendations.

The minister's plan makes a mockery of the Conservatives' promises in the election campaign.

Will the government tell us why the Conservatives are now behaving like Liberals, saying one thing before an election and doing another thing afterwards?

Government Contracts May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, we have now learned that the Minister of Public Works and Government Services is going to rewrite government contracting rules.

His plan ignores the recommendations of the Gomery report on the Liberals' sponsorship scandal.

I would have asked this of the minister, but I see Mr. Fortier is still sitting unelected in the Senate. Therefore, I ask the parliamentary secretary, can he confirm it is the government's intention to ignore the Gomery report?

Business of Supply May 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, that is one of the reasons that we believe having not for profit child care is important. Parents need to be involved in the care of their kids. If we have licensed not for profit care, parents can fully participate in every aspect of their children's care, even though they are getting good early childhood education. It is the opposite of what I would call the big box commercial care. It is good community based care. As a parent having been involved in a system like this, I appreciate how enriching it is for our children and for the parents involved.

Business of Supply May 4th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I think what is a national embarrassment is that a country with the wealth of Canada has no national child care program for our nation's children. It is an embarrassment that previous governments have not seen fit to use the resources of this country to make the care of our kids, from the earliest years, a national priority. I would argue that what is an embarrassment is that the current government and the previous government have not led the people of Canada to the creation of a program like those of most other advanced countries.

I would argue that the real choice for parents is whether they want to have their children in early childhood education or not and that this be available for all children whether their parents work or not. It is common sense. We have the resources to do it. Again I ask the question to all of us here in the House, why have we failed and why are we failing to do this?