House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was indigenous.

Last in Parliament January 2019, as NDP MP for Nanaimo—Ladysmith (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Rail Transportation December 13th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in a moment, I will be seeking the consent of the House for a motion.

Because the abandoned vessel legislation, which would prevent oil spills and pollution on the coast, is ready to go, and because the amendments proposed by the Senate would add the additional protection of ensuring that any efforts to remove abandoned vessels would not disturb war graves of men and women who served this country, I am hopeful that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.

I move that the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-64, an act respecting wrecks, abandoned, dilapidated or hazardous vessels and salvage operations, be now read a second time and concurred in.

Bill C-76—Time Allocation Motion December 13th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has been very brave about trampling on the charter rights of the labour movement and trampling collective bargaining by railroading through the House, at top speed, back-to-work legislation for postal workers, so that is hard to hear from the democratic reform minister.

The Chief Electoral Officer was very clear with the Liberal government that to put in place changes to the Conservatives' unfair elections act in time for them to be fully implemented for the 2019 election, one year from now, it had to have legislation adopted this past April. It was the day after the deadline set by the Chief Electoral Officer that the Liberal government introduced its bill in the House, completely missing the deadline. Now here we are, 10 months later, ramming it through, again shortening debate and applying time allocation, something the Liberals in opposition said they would never do in the way the Conservatives had.

If the democratic reform minister had actually met the deadline set very clearly by the Chief Electoral Officer, would she be needing to use these undemocratic techniques today to get the Canada Elections Act adopted in time?

Petitions December 13th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, because front-line domestic violence workers are saving women's lives, and because they are the most underfunded non-profit group in the country, petitioners from Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Ottawa call on the government to recognize the need for reliable, long-term core operations funding. Domestic violence shelters and feminist organizations are struggling to keep the lights on and to keep staff in place. They do not need program funding; they need core operations funding.

The petitioners urge the government to direct federal funding to women's organizations and dedicate the political and financial support they need to keep women in our country alive.

Privilege December 12th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege to say my final speech in this House.

How could I be leaving this fantastic job? I am the fourth member of my family to be a member of Parliament, the first woman and the first New Democrat. I have the best spouse and political partner, Howard. I have an amazing staff team. I have a family who is proud of me and supports me, so how could I be giving a farewell speech?

I feel like I have been able to achieve a lot in the three years I have been here.

Abandoned vessels is something I worked on for eight years before being elected here. I feel we have really made a lot of progress. I have been honoured to carry on former member of Parliament Jean Crowder's work. We really pushed the issue here, with the support of the transport minister and members of Parliament from the Atlantic.

Pay equity was another win. It was my motion, just weeks into this Parliament, that put equal pay for women on the government's agenda. It was not there before. Three years later, we almost have legislation. That is a huge win.

Also, with my fellow New Democrat MPs from Vancouver Island, we had the rules for infrastructure funding changed so that BC Ferries could apply for capital infrastructure for ferry improvements. That brought $62 million in improvements for coastal communities. We are very proud of that work.

With my staff team, I was also able to help bring millions of dollars of funding and hundreds of jobs into the riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith.

Also, a ruling was made with the Speaker's agreement to change the rules so the Speaker could recognize first nations leaders who appear in the public gallery in this House. That was a small thing, but a new thing.

As New Democrats, we also achieved some amazing things this year particularly. My colleague, whom I am so proud to serve with, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, brought in legislation. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is something the whole country can be proud of. I am honoured to serve with him and appreciate his leadership.

My colleague from Vancouver Island, the member for Courtenay—Alberni, just in the past few months has had huge wins both on veterans funding and on the issue of marine plastics pollution. I am very proud of him.

There are other New Democrat fixes which we really hoped would pass in this House and which my colleagues proposed, such as, closed containment for salmon farms, an anti-poverty plan, right to housing, labelling GMOs, and pension reform. These are all progressive constructive proposals. Sadly, they were all voted down by the Liberal government. Nevertheless, those issues were raised.

I love my job as a member of Parliament. I am honoured to serve with this beautiful New Democrat caucus. I am proud that Jagmeet Singh is our leader, the first racialized leader of any political party in this country's history. I have been so honoured to serve in this historic building.

However, the environmental and housing crises my riding faces cannot wait until after the next federal election. I have been pushing for eight years for regulations to deal with marine oil spills, and bitumen spills in particular. The government has not changed the regulations. However, the B.C. NDP says that it will, and it is trying.

Affordable housing spending is largely pushed off until 2020 federally, but just this week in my riding, the B.C. NDP has moved 155 homeless people into modular housing. As well, it has just announced spending of $12 million for 120 new affordable housing units done with community organizations.

I fought to stop oil tanker transportation increases in my riding, which would risk tens of thousands of jobs we have on the coast already. I thought all we had to do was beat Harper, but it turns out the Liberals bought the pipeline. It is now the B.C. government which is working to stop that.

Climate change is the greatest crisis of our times. The Liberals adopted the Harper government's targets, and even the ombudsman says they will not meet them. Again, the action on the ground that is creating both jobs and climate change action is provincial. The NDP there is working the hardest to cut emissions and create jobs doing it.

I am inspired by the New Democrat and Green co-operative governing partnership, which is achieving results in British Columbia. In the referendum, I am really hoping voters choose to move away from the outdated first past the post system and into a proportional representation system to make every vote count. I am sorry it did not pass and was stopped by the government federally, but maybe we can make it happen provincially and inspire the rest of the country.

Finally, although I am proud to have advanced abandoned vessel solutions federally, we did not get the changes that New Democrats asked for dealing with the backlog, vessel recycling, and a turn-in program that has been done in Washington and Oregon. The B.C. NDP campaigned to do those things, so I can help in that regard to get this work finished.

I am honoured to have the endorsement of the Union of BC Municipalities, Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. They all endorsed the same solutions that the government voted down.

That the premier invited me to be part of his progressive government and stand for the nomination is a compliment to my staff team and my constituents who have worked hard to get real change on the agenda.

In my 15 years of elected office, I have drawn immeasurably on the wisdom of my colleagues from coastal communities and Islands Trust Council. The Snuneymuxw First Nation chief and council are very strong partners. Gabriola Island, my home, has continued lessons of sustainability and community action that continue to support and inform me.

I have learned so much working alongside Ladysmith's mayor, Aaron Stone, and John Elliott, the Stz'uminus First Nation chief. I want to recognize the collaborative work that they have done together and recommend it as a model for the rest of the country of what reconciliation and action really looks like.

We have a brand new mayor and a brand new council elected in Nanaimo, which has precipitated this by-election, but that creates a real opportunity for us in my hometown to be able to implement progressive solutions.

Good things are happening already. With a new government in place provincially, we have three new ambulances, 24 new paramedics, a new update which was sorely overdue for the intensive care unit at the hospital, affordable child care for 2,700 Nanaimo kids, ferry fares frozen on major routes and rolled back on minor routes so seniors can ride ferries for free. Great things are happening.

I am determined to keep serving the people of Nanaimo and amplify those opportunities that are before us. I am hoping that I am elected to this new provincial role in the new year. I will be drawing on the lessons learned in this building. I will keep the work going, building on what we have been able to do together as a community, building on what I have learned from people at home and from the abundant lessons here in this Parliament.

It is an exciting future ahead of us. I wish my colleagues in the House well. I say a big hello and that I am so looking forward to being home and working shoulder-to-shoulder with the people implementing real results on the ground right now.

Status of Women December 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe the member actually heard my question. It is core operation funding which the NGOs that are doing this brave work at the front line are asking for. He sat through the whole committee study that I had been reading testimony from here.

Anita Olsen Harper from the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence said, “The most pressing issue that on-reserve women's shelters face is insufficient financial funding from Indigenous Services Canada.”

It is not the program funding that he is talking about, which requires an application and some kind of design of a new and innovative program, which only then lasts for a year or so, before it is shut down and a new program is designed. It is just the basics, the same as any other health care service.

We have given this work to the front line. The government is not delivering counselling or prevention from sexual violence. That work has been given to the non-profit sector. The NGOs have told us loud and clear that they need their core operations funded in a long-term way. The government has not provided that. Even testimony five days ago said that it has not. Why will the government not listen to the women's movement in this regard?

Status of Women December 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my New Democrat colleague from Saskatoon West talking about the calamity of violence against women. Once every six days, a woman in Canada dies at the hands of an intimate partner. The place where women should be the most safe is where they end up losing their lives at terrible rates. Therefore, we are right to ring the alarm on this in the House.

We are at the end of the 16 Days of Action to End Violence Against Women. It is a global movement, a global commitment to call out for action to end violence against women. At the all-party Status of Women committee, we have just finished studying how we can better fill the gap between need and supply for domestic violence shelters.

Every day women are turned away, women who are brave enough to ask for help in finding safety and often bringing their children with them. They are turned away because the shelters do not have enough space. We asked shelter operators across the country what they needed the most. They told us again and again that they were struggling to keep their doors open and to keep the lights on.

The #MeToo movement has really removed the taboo against complaining and ringing the alarm on gender-based violence in every form, but the funding to support the front-line groups doing this brave work has not come forward. In particular, it is operational, core funding that pays the rent, the heating bills and pays the front-line staff doing extremely difficult work with extensive training. They get burned out. We need to pay them well so they can make a sustainable living in this field. Again, core operations funding is what these groups have asked for from the government.

I will give a couple of quotes from this study.

Kristal LeBlanc from the Beausejour Family Crisis Resource Centre in New Brunswick said: the end of the day, we can't do our jobs effectively if we don't have that core funding. The amount of bugging and pushing in trying to get a small grant to operate our first transitional housing in a rural community is unbelievable, when we were turning people away.

Lyda Fuller from the YWCA in the Northwest Territories said:

I would like to see core funding. I'd like there to be a funding model that is fair across the country and provides adequately for shelters for that women have access no matter where they live in Canada.

Megan Walker from the London Abused Women's Centre in Ontario said:

It's just a no-brainer to me that if you value the lives of women, you're going to appropriately fund those organizations that are serving these women and potentially saving their lives....Frankly, what we need is money....We're failing those women right now if we can't serve them.

The government says that it wants to protect women from violence and that it is willing to spend on infrastructure in all kinds of areas, for example, buying a leaky old pipeline at a cost of $4.5 billion. It is core operations funding, sustainable funding for which these groups are asking. Why will the government not fund them in the way that have they asked?

Opioid Crisis in Canada December 10th, 2018

Mr. Chair, Nanaimo has been hit early and hit hard by the opioid crisis, with 150 deaths in the last five years and overdose rates last year that were 50% higher than in the rest of B.C. Firefighters told me this morning that they are on track to be called out to 500 overdoses, just in our city of 100,000 people. It is colossal.

Given that the Liberals called this debate tonight, we really wanted to hear more oomph and about the new offer for families that are hit so hard. I want to read a letter sent to me by Teena MacKenzie. She wrote it to the Prime Minister and copied me. She said:

My close friend lost her daughter.... [She was] a young mother, just 25-years-old. Three weeks shy of her only son's 4th birthday....

Yes, her mother tried to seek help for her daughter many times. Many times [she was] turned away as a waiting list grows. You can not place an addict on a waiting list for help; it almost appears these human beings are put on a waiting list to die instead....

Justin, where are the changes?....

I have read the Federal Government Action Plan; all I read is observers collecting information and No real action plan; PLEASE STOP stop talking and START DOING!

When is the government going to start doing more to treat this emergency in the way that victims and the families deserve?

Opioid Crisis in Canada December 10th, 2018

Could you please ask the member to stop screaming—

Opioid Crisis in Canada December 10th, 2018

Madam Chair, I have a point of order.

Gender-based Violence December 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, as the 16 days of action to end violence against women go on, women's organizations across Canada still struggle to pay their staff and keep their doors open. Every day, the Vancouver Island University Students' Union, the Haven Society and the Nanaimo Women's Resource Centre in Nanaimo—Ladysmith that I represent work to keep women safe. Every day they turn women away. Can members imagine a woman who is fleeing domestic violence and has the bravery to ask for help, but there is no room at the inn? These groups tell us that if we are going to protect women, we have to fund the groups' core operations.

The Liberals say they want to end violence against women. They are willing to invest in infrastructure for energy companies. Why not invest in the vital life-saving infrastructure that women's organizations across this country provide? Actions matter.