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

Global Warming October 15th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, taking the last question first, as a daily user of the public ferry system, we were also hit and discouraged, as commuters who had relied on that transit tax credit. We were very discouraged to see it leave. I will not explain the government's rationale, but I share the member's concern.

I will take this opportunity to say that on Tuesday, I was with the higher education minister in British Columbia, Melanie Mark, who was opening a fantastic new geothermal project at Vancouver Island University. The university has dropped geothermal extraction of the earth's heat into old coal mining shafts that run under the university and under Nanaimo. This is a lovely transition from what used to be a coal economy. Now they are using geothermal power to heat the campus and the buildings. That is an example of innovation, and it is encouraging. We would like to see support and subsidies for that instead of old fossil technology.

Global Warming October 15th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the environment commissioner says that the government is not taking the leadership it said it would and that its international commitments require. It has a $4.5 billion investment in a dirty old pipeline and uses Orwellian language to say that to be a climate leader, we have to buy a pipeline.

I will relay to my colleague across the way the words of my friend and colleague, Snuneymuxw First Nation councillor Doug White III. He spoke on Tuesday night at a town hall I hosted on Kinder Morgan in my riding in Nanaimo, along with the member of Parliament for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

Chief Doug White, former chief of Snuneymuxw First Nation, described the 160 years the Snuneymuxw First Nation has been fighting the effects of colonization and land-taking. He wrapped it up by saying that the economic model remains the same as it was 160 years ago. It is still rip and ship. You take a raw resource out of indigenous land, with no benefit to the local economy and local people, and then you ship it, unrefined, somewhere else, as it was 160 years ago. This is still this government's proposal.

I was very compelled by my colleague's imperative for the cost to our coastal indigenous communities. Can we not do better as a country?

Global Warming October 15th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I was elected to public office because I wanted to fight climate change.

I was first elected to local government in 2002 to fight a natural gas pipeline through the southern Salish Sea and a natural gas generating station that was going to be built by BC Hydro very close to my home. That got me into elected office.

I later became chair of Islands Trust Council, which is a local government with a conservation mandate put in place by the NDP Barrett government in 1974 to preserve and protect. That took us into climate change. Living on an island as I do, we saw the effect of climate change, whether it was drought, the impacts on aquaculture, or ocean acidification affecting jobs in aquaculture. The imperative was real.

Then the Harper Conservatives' dark decade really motivated us on the west coast to beat the Kinder Morgan pipeline. The way to take bold action on climate change was to defeat the Conservatives.

Now, here I find myself thanks to the good people of Nanaimo—Ladysmith.

My goodness, I am sad that we are still so far behind. I recognize that climate change is a long emergency, as I did in local government too. It was the most important thing we were going to do, but an advocate from the homeless shelter who came to the meeting was the one who had the most urgent action, so climate change slid to the background even though we were all good people with the intention of taking really meaningful action on climate change.

Now, here we find ourselves in this country with all of its abundant resources still not doing our share. The Liberal government with the best of intentions still has the same climate change targets as the Harper Conservatives had. They talk a good line but have not taken the imperative action that we need. Just last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change proclaimed that alarm.

This is a deep emergency. BC was on fire this summer. The Prime Minister brought his cabinet to my riding and the smoke was so thick in the air that people could not see. Climate change causes wild fires. Climate change is all around us and I hear about it every day from my constituents.

The report released last week pooled more than 6,000 scientific reports. It confirmed that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change and that we must take action right now, making deep cuts now to avoid having the worst, most devastating impacts happen to our the ecosystems and way of life.

Canada has been buffered from this. Ocean currents have kept our air a bit cooler even while the climate continues to heat. When those currents no longer continue in their same pattern, we will get a double whammy. We have not experienced climate refugees the way that other countries have from desertification. We have been buffered because of our abundant natural resources. Climate change is upon us and surely this is the time for us to take deep action.

The co-chair of the IPCC working group, Jim Skea, noted that limiting warming to 1.5° Celsius is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics, but that doing so would require unprecedented changes.

Jagmeet Singh has asked me to be the women's equality critic for the NDP. We hear that women, elders, and vulnerable poor people around the world are the most susceptible to climate change, but we see this right in our own country, not just from an international perspective.

Women have to travel further to carry water back to their village. That is hard on them physically and it takes away from other opportunities. It also exposes them to great danger, such as rape. We heard a lot about this through ParlAmericas and some of the other international parliamentary associations.

It happens in Canada too. NGOs have been doing studies on this. In Toronto, heat wave shelters are disproportionately used by women because they are the lower income earners. They are the ones who are living in apartment buildings with no air conditioning and they do not have the power to negotiate with a bad landlord. They suffer particularly from extreme heat. They are also more likely to live in basement apartments where flooding, which happens in a city like Toronto, hits them more.

What are the climate change solutions offered by the City of Toronto? There are renovation rebates, but they only apply to homeowners, who again tend to be men because of the income disparities in our country.

Even with our collective commitment to gender equality and fairness, action on climate change is good for women too.

Salmon cannot go upstream to spawn if the water temperature is too hot. This is a big issue in British Columbia. We are highly aware that climate change is reducing salmon returns, and salmon is the basis of indigenous culture and B.C.'s economy. Ocean acidification is affecting aquaculture. There are forest fires.

The things that are particularly important to B.C.'s coast are already being affected by climate change, yet the Liberals continue to delay action. We are still based on the same emission reduction targets the Conservatives put in place. The least the government could have done is commit to deeper cuts and regulate emissions reductions. Simply taxing is not enough. Market solutions alone have not gotten us out of any other social or environmental problem. Putting a price on pollution does not work unless one is ratcheting down emissions and doing it by regulation. My great disappointment is that the government has not done that.

The government has also not kept its promise to reduce fossil fuel subsidies. If subsidies were removed from fossil fuels and applied in other sectors, or if we just did not tax people for them, we would not be artificially stimulating the fossil fuel industry. The Auditor General has concluded that the government is dragging its feet on that promise. The Minister of Finance has refused to reveal the full list of subsidies, and we have had a number of reports in this Parliament expressing that concern.

The environment commissioner, again in this Parliament, found that 14 departments and agencies had no plan to assess the risks associated with climate change. Even the Minister of Environment and Climate Change did not have a plan in place in her department. How much more internal advice do we need to have? The government has the mandate. It is willing to spend money. It is willing to regulate. It calls itself a climate leader. I wish it would act like a climate leader.

I am strangely longing for the days of Stéphane Dion, Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien, but again, those were big Liberal promises not fulfilled. This is an ongoing pattern.

The late, beloved New Democrat leader Jack Layton brought to this House emissions reduction legislation that, with a lot of finagling and a few misses, he did get the majority of this House of Commons to approve. To our great heartbreak, it was blocked by the Senate. It could have been legislation that could have sent Canada in a new direction except for Senate interference.

What do we have to lean on? In my own riding, I am encouraged by the innovators who are taking action on climate change and are creating jobs and making money doing it. Nanaimo's Harmac Pacific mill has a waste wood cogeneration facility, which is capturing what used to be old pollution and generating electricity from it. For 25 years, Canadian Electric Vehicles, in Nanaimo, has been making electric vehicles, including the Zamboni and Bobcats.

The Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre has just built the first multi-family affordable housing in Nanaimo since the early nineties, and it was done with a passive energy design. It is something that was developed and innovated in Saskatchewan, but then the government lost its appetite for that. It was further developed in Europe and imported back to Canada, where now lower-income tenants have an 80% saving on their energy bill by virtue of this fantastic passive energy design.

Canada's green building sector has $128 billion in gross annual income. It employs more direct full-time workers than forestry, mining, oil and gas combined. Why on earth did the government instead choose to invest $4.5 billion in a leaky, old pipeline that risks B.C.'s coast immeasurably and compounds our climate and fossil fuel problem? It is to my great dismay that I urge this whole House to seize the climate emergency as the emergency that it is and to truly be a leader in actions and not only in words.

Women's History Month October 3rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, for Women's History Month, we honour feminist trailblazers who fought hard for social justice and yet gender equality has been blocked by decades of successive Liberal and Conservative failure: no pay equity and no universal child care. Front-line feminist groups struggle to keep their doors open from a lack of core funding.

As New Democrat Rosemary Brown, the first black woman elected to any legislature in Canada, said, “We must open the doors and we must see to it that they remain open, so that others can pass through.” On a truly historic day in Parliament, these doors opened and Daughters of the Vote filled these seats with young women from across the country. Three hundred and thirty-seven women sat in the House on that day, more than had filled Parliament in 150 years of Confederation. I have since witnessed dozens of these young leaders making real change across our country.

Let us make history, let us honour feminists past and let us open the doors for the next wave of women making real change.

The Environment October 2nd, 2018

Madam Speaker, here is the motion that was passed by the national chamber of commerce at its convention.

It states, “1. Designate Coast Guard as the agency responsible for directing the removal and recycling of abandoned vessels; 2. Improve vessel registration so that owners can be held accountable; 3. Fund a study of the Washington State model of fee collection for the costs of disposal of abandoned and wrecked vessels on the West Coast, other coasts and waterways; 4. Create a pilot “turn-in” program for safe disposal and recycling of abandoned vessels; and 5. Work with governments at all levels, including first nations, to provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for addressing the financial and environmental risks of abandoned vessels.”

It was recognized by the chambers of commerce across our country that this work has not been done. When will it be complete?

The Environment October 2nd, 2018

Madam Speaker, oil spills and debris from thousands of abandoned vessels pollute our waterways, threatening fisheries and tourism across Canada. After decades of sounding the alarm on the long-standing problem of abandoned vessels, coastal communities finally have the government's attention, but the baby steps taken do not match the enormity of this problem for our coasts.

First, the federal government's funding program is a drop in the bucket compared to the scale of the problem. It allocates just one million dollars a year for the entire country, when getting the Viki Lyne II out of Ladysmith Harbour in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith cost $1.2 million alone.

Second, the Liberals are dragging out a promised inventory and risk assessment. When they voted down my legislation on this eight months ago, the transport minister assured us that there was going to be an inventory prepared. He said it would be an “inventory of abandoned, dilapidated, and wrecked vessels, along with a risk assessment methodology to rank these vessels according to the risks that they pose.”

We just learned that the work has not even been tendered and that there is no way it will be completed before July 2019. Inventorying boats does not in itself contend with the problems, but the fact that this work has been delayed is deeply discouraging.

Third, just 20 abandoned vessels will be removed this year across Canada under the federal abandoned boats program. That includes the six removals re-announced in Victoria last month. At this rate, it is going to take more than 40 years to deal with the backlog.

I have pushed the federal government hard to close the loopholes and deal with the backlog polluting our coasts. I advanced all the solutions that coastal communities have proposed over a decade: fix vessel registration, pilot a turn-in program, create good green jobs by supporting local marine salvage businesses and vessel recycling, and end the jurisdictional runaround. The Union of BC Municipalities and countless coastal partners from across Canada championed those solutions, but they were voted down by the Liberals in Parliament.

However, coastal leaders will not give up. At the same time the Liberal government MPs were recycling a $31,000 abandoned vessel funding announcement last month at Victoria's Laurel Point, chambers of commerce from across the country were debating and endorsing the same remedies the Liberals had voted down here in the House. Nanaimo's chamber of commerce got provincial association buy-in from across the country for abandoned vessel solutions to fix vessel registration, support recycling, pilot a vessel turn-in to deal with the backlog, and to make the Coast Guard the lead agency. By the time it went to the national chamber's convention floor in Thunder Bay, the Atlantic association had stronger wording still, all with the intention of pressing the federal government for deeper reform.

Coastal leaders are not giving up, and neither am I. While thousands of abandoned vessels continue to pollute our coasts, coastal communities are left with a complicated puzzle of legislation in a maze of government departments. If the undermined vessel registry is not repaired, there is no way to mail a ticket to negligent owners. User pay just does not work if we cannot track down who owns the boat.

I will continue to challenge the Liberal government to include the accountability and recycling fixes that coastal leaders have been asking for. It is fantastic that abandoned vessels are finally now on the federal agenda. When will it be time to truly take the load off coastal communities and protect our oceans?

Marine Transportation October 2nd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the transport minister must stop letting commercial freighters use the Salish Sea as long-term parking. So said first nations, community groups and local governments when we met on Friday. They are all harmed by noise, air and light pollution, with no benefit to their local economy. Freighters threaten coastal ecology, from glass sponge reefs to great blue herons and endangered orcas. Moving risk from one town to another is not helping.

When will the Liberals protect coastal communities and fix bulk anchorage damages?

Petitions October 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, because bulk commercial anchorages anchored endlessly in the southern Salish Sea are risking oil spills, creating noise and light pollution, risking migratory bird species and herring spawn by dragging anchor, petitioners from across the region from Whistler, Pemberton, Vancouver, Qualicum, Ladysmith, Nanaimo and Gabriola urge the House not to establish new bulk commercial anchorages. These messages were reinforced at a round table I hosted with the MP for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford on Friday. Many many coastal communities are urging the House to take action.

Natural Resources September 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, we all have a lot to learn.

People in coastal communities tell me that they are appalled that the Prime Minister is still recklessly pushing the expansion of Trans Mountain. The court ruled that the assessment process was deeply flawed. It did not even consider the sevenfold oil tanker traffic increase and the risk it put on orca whales and our coast, yet Liberals still have taxpayers on the hook for billions, buying TMX instead of investing now in the housing people desperately need.

What will the Prime Minister do? Will he finally listen to coastal communities and cancel this pipeline expansion before—

Business of Supply September 27th, 2018

Madam Speaker, if the member opposite has a similar list for my riding, I would love to see it, because we do not get informed by the government and do not get invited. This is a nonpartisan issue. We need to work together to house those most deeply in need.

I wonder if there is anyone on the government side who would like to work with the people elected by the locals. I am sure we would all do better if we coordinated and communicated together. So far that has not happened.