House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was status.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Conservative MP for London North Centre (Ontario)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Status of Women February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to be clear that no one has done more for women and girls in Canada than this Conservative government.

Creating a society in which violence against women is no longer tolerated will take a long-term commitment and continuous action, but it is possible, and our government is committed to doing its part.

As a government, we have made it very clear that all forms of gender-based violence, including violence against aboriginal women and girls, will not be tolerated in our society. We are also a country where those who break the law are punished, where penalties match the severity of the crimes, and where the rights of victims are recognized.

Our government also believes in taking action to address these awful acts of violence. For example, economic action plan 2014 committed to a new investment of $25 million over five years to continue our government's efforts at reducing violence against aboriginal women.

As a result of this commitment, the Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Womenreleased the Government of Canada's action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls on September 15. One of the most important aspects of this action plan is that it responds in a very real way to the call for actions from families and communities while also addressing the recommendations of the Special Committee on Violence against Indigenous Women.

There are three main areas in which our government is taking action. First, the Government of Canada is taking action to prevent violence against aboriginal women and girls. Specific actions set in the action plan include development of more community safety plans across Canada, including in regions the RCMP's analysis as identifies as having a high incidence of violent crime perpetrated against women and girls; projects to break intergenerational cycles of violence and abuse by raising awareness and building healthy relationships; and projects to engage men and boys and empower aboriginal women and girls to denounce and prevent violence.

Second, the Government of Canada is taking action to assist and support victims of violence. Specifically, the action plan supports family-police liaison positions to ensure family members have access to timely information about cases, specialized assistance for victims and families, and positive relationships and the sharing of information between families and criminal justice professionals.

Third, the Government of Canada is taking action to protect aboriginal women and girls. Specifically, the action plan includes initiatives such as funding shelters on reserve on an ongoing basis, supporting the creation of a DNA-based missing persons index, and continuing to support police investigations through the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains.

The Government of Canada will also continue to work closely with provinces and territories, police services, and the justice system as well as aboriginal families, communities, and organizations to address violence against aboriginal women and girls.

Aboriginal Affairs February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, the Minister of Status of Women and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development will be attending the round table on behalf of the federal government.

Since coming to office, we have taken action on this issue. That includes passing more than 30 criminal justice and public safety initiatives, including tougher sentences for murder, sexual assault, and kidnapping and mandatory prison sentences for the most serious crimes. The opposition, sadly, votes against these bills.

Our government has taken strong action to address the broader problems facing aboriginal women.

Taxation February 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, while the New Democrats want to impose a job-killing carbon tax and the Liberal leader encourages his provincial comrades to do the same, the Conservative government is delivering the largest tax break in Canadian history.

Under this plan, 100% of families with children would have more money in their pockets to spend on their priorities as a family. In my riding of London North Centre, families are excited about this. Through all the new tax breaks, the average benefit to each of these families would be more than $1,100.

We assured Canadians that we would lower taxes and put more of their hard-earned money back in their pockets. That is exactly what we are doing and what we will continue to do.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is very important that the bill get passed so women and girls will be safe in Canada. This bill is all about that. Every time we put through measures to strengthen laws or bills that would help women and girls, the opposition members always vote against them.

It is time we help women and girls. This is a problem in Canada and we need to support it. Everyone should remember too that part of the bill would commit to an age of 16. Right now, as I said in my speech, someone could force a young girl to get married as young as age seven.

We need to pass the bill so all women and girls in Canada safe.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I agree that many women who come to Canada do not know their rights and we have taken steps to ensure they do. Victims advocates have said that they needed resources and we gave them those resources.

Our government has taken action to protect vulnerable Canadians, particularly women and girls, from early and forced marriage and other harmful cultural practices through, for example, special language programs for immigrant and refugee women. We are able to address issues such as family violence, spousal abuse, women's rights, legal rights, responsibilities and health care, and include bridging or referral to other available services in the community. This is very important for them.

Also publications such as Discover Canada and Welcome to Canada are guides that clearly communicate that Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to harmful cultural practices such as forced marriage or other forms of gender-based violence. This is for everyone, not specific to a particular culture or community. These are some examples of what we are doing to ensure women are aware of their rights when they get to Canada.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act would send out a clear message to those coming to Canada that forced marriage, honour-based violence or any other form of harmful cultural practices would unacceptable and would not be tolerated in Canadian society. That is why I like the word “cultural” in there, because we are talking about harmful cultural practices.

Our government will continue to ensure that Canada is protected from harmful barbaric cultural practices and continue to protect Canadians vulnerable to these abuses.

We will continue to take action by increasing the support for victims of crime, including through the victims bill of rights. We also passed the Safe Streets and Communities Act. Since 2007, over $2.8 million has been approved through Status of Women Canada for community-based projects that address harmful cultural practices such as honour-based violence and forced marriages, and 720 projects were funded that support women and girls.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the chance to speak about Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.

I will be sharing my time with the member for Burlington.

In the most recent Speech from the Throne, our government recognized that millions of women and girls around the world continue to suffer from violence, including the appalling practices of early and forced marriage. That speech emphasized the government's commitment to ensuring that such barbaric cultural practices do not occur in our country.

In his appearance before the Senate human rights committee on this bill, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration made it clear that any practice that involves violence directed at women is barbaric. Our government firmly believes that women should never be subjugated to violence or even death for any reason, especially the reasons used in honour-based violence.

The measures in Bill S-7 are the culmination of that commitment to improve protection and support for vulnerable individuals, primarily women and children, and would do so in a number of ways.

They would render permanent and temporary residents inadmissible if they practised polygamy in Canada. They would strengthen Canadian marriage laws by establishing a new national minimum age for marriage of 16 years old and by codifying the existing legal requirements for free and enlightened consent for marriage and for ending an existing marriage prior to entering another.

They would criminalize certain conduct related to underage and forced marriage ceremonies, including the act of removing a child from Canada for the purpose of such marriage ceremonies.

These measures would help protect potential victims of underage or forced marriages by creating a new and specific preventative court order peace bond when there were grounds to fear someone would commit an offence in that area, and they would ensure that the defence of provocation would not apply in so-called honour killings and many spousal homicides.

I would like to take the opportunity to focus on those measures in Bill S-7 that address what I have already described as appalling practices involving violence directed against women and girls, namely early and forced marriage. These are practices that contradict Canadian values and cause great harm to victims.

In Canada, there is no national minimum age for marriage. Provincial and territorial legislation set out certain ages for additional requirements, such as parental consent for those under the age of majority or court approval for even younger children. However, they lack the Constitutional jurisdiction to set the absolute minimum age below which no child can marry.

Federal law currently sets the absolute minimum age at 16 years old, but in Quebec only. In other parts of Canada, the common law applies because there is no federal legislation. However, there is some uncertainty about the common law minimum age, which is usually interpreted as setting a minimum of 12 for girls and 14 for boys, although historically it has been as low as seven years old.

While very few marriages in Canada now involve people under the age of 16, amending the Civil Marriage Act in order to set a national minimum age of 16 years old for marriage would make it clear that underage marriage is unacceptable in Canada and will not be tolerated. In contrast, Austria, Australia, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom all have a minimum age below which no one can marry, even with parental consent.

Other amendments to the Civil Marriage Act proposed in Bill S-7 would codify the requirement that those getting married must give their free and enlightened consent to marry each other and would codify the requirement for the dissolution of any previous marriage.

Building on the proposed amendments to the Civil Marriage Act, Bill S-7 also contains measures that would amend the Criminal Code to help prevent forced and underage marriage. These measures would criminalize knowingly officiating at an underage or forced marriage, actively participating in a wedding ceremony knowing that one party is marrying the other against his or her will or is under the age of 16 years old, and removing a minor from Canada for a forced or underage marriage.

Other proposed amendments would create a new peace bond that would give courts the power to impose conditions on an individual when there were reasonable grounds to fear that a forced marriage or a marriage under the age 16 would otherwise occur.

Such a peace bond could be used to prevent an underage or forced marriage by, for example, requiring the surrender of a passport as well as preventing a child from being taken out of Canada. This is an important option for a young woman, for example, who wants to stop her family from taking her out of the country for a forced marriage but does not want to press charges against her family members.

At the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, members had the opportunity to listen to Kamal Dhillon who was forced into a marriage at a young age and repeatedly abused for the 12 years of her marriage. She told the committee that she was constantly subjected to emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse, and even attempted murder several times. The bill seeks to prevent situations such as Ms. Dhillon's. I am glad to say that she escaped her marriage and is now an advocate for women who have been the target of barbaric practices.

The provisions in Bill S-7, including those that address underage and forced marriage, will help ensure that immigrant women and girls are protected from isolation and violence. The full participation of women and girls is essential in our democracy. Women seeking a better life for themselves and their families in Canada should never be subject to constant fear and threat of violence or death simply for living their lives and seeking out better opportunities for themselves.

We know that immigrant and newcomer women and girls face additional barriers in protecting themselves and seeking assistance compared to women born in Canada. These practices also have a very negative impact on families and society in general, as does all violence directed against women and girls. They also seriously affect all those involved from influencing immigration outcomes to breaking down opportunities for integration and success.

Bill S-7 would strengthen our laws to protect Canadians and newcomers to Canada from barbaric cultural practices that direct violence against women and girls. Through the enactment of Bill S-7, Parliament will send a strong message to those in Canada and those who wish to come to Canada that we will not tolerate activities that deprive individuals of their human rights.

I am sure we would all agree that we must stand up for all victims of violence and abuse, and take necessary action to prevent these practices from happening on Canadian soil. That is exactly what we will be doing by ensuring the bill's passage into law. That is why I urge my hon. colleagues to join me in supporting the passage of the bill.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations December 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the motion put forward by the hon. member for Mississauga South.

It is incredibly disturbing that so many women and girls around the world continue to be victims of the inhumane practice of early and forced marriages. Right now, it is estimated that one in three girls in the developing world are married before their 18th birthdays. Disturbingly, some are married as young as five years old. This practice is harmful to girls in several ways.

Early or forced marriages hinder most girls' chances of completing an education, which puts them at even greater risk of violence and isolation. Many girls who enter early or forced marriages also typically have children at a very young age and because their bodies are not yet ready for child birth, it is estimated that approximately 70,000 girls die in labour each and every year.

Clearly, early and forced marriages are very harmful practices that threaten the lives and futures of girls around the world with devastating consequences. In fact, they are violations of human rights that often lead to social isolation, poverty and violence. This barbarism is unacceptable to Canadians. We must do whatever we can to strengthen the protection of vulnerable women in Canada and to support the rights of immigrant and newcomer women in the strongest possible way.

The motion we are debating today would help to do so by disallowing marriages by proxy and other non-in-person marriages in the immigration system. A marriage by proxy is where one or even both participants are not present at the ceremony and are represented by another person. Other forms of this type of marriage can be conducted by telephone, fax or Internet for the purposes of immigration to Canada.

While such marriages are not legally permitted to be performed in Canada, they may be recognized for the purposes of Canadian immigration law when conducted in jurisdictions outside of Canada where these types of marriages are legal. Some visa offices around the world regularly encounter marriages by proxy as it is a cultural practice in some parts of the world.

The sad truth is that these practices can be used to force individuals, usually women and girls, into non-consensual marriages. Should this motion pass, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to exclude proxy, telephone and similar forms of marriage for immigration purposes across all immigration streams. In addition, policy and operational guidelines will be updated to assist immigration officers in better detecting such forms of marriage.

Of course, we also recognize there are cases when a marriage by proxy is valid and there will be exceptions in the regulations for these valid types of marriages. Sponsored spouses who decide to marry by proxy will be encouraged to remarry in an in-person ceremony that meets the laws of the country where it is performed to have their marriage accepted for immigration purposes. They can also apply as common law or conjugal partners. Humanitarian and compassionate provisions may also be taken into consideration.

However, the focus of this motion is the increasing concern that some marriages by proxy, telephone, fax, or Internet can make it easier for someone to be forced into a marriage. In addressing the issue of forced marriage in our immigration system, let us also be clear about the intent of this motion. It is not an indictment of arranged marriages. An arranged marriage is a marriage in which both parties have the free will to accept or decline the arrangement.

On the other hand, all forced marriages are, by nature, arranged and when the consent of one of both parties to the marriage is denied, tools such as proxy marriage, telephone marriage and these other means of solemnization may be used to facilitate the forced marriage.

As I have already stated, some of our visa offices have encountered cases of spousal sponsorships that were, in fact, cases of forced marriage facilitated by proxy. This is not how Canada's spousal sponsorship program is intended to work.

Although this barbaric practice of forced marriage is illegal in Canada, we must further strengthen the integrity of our immigration system to ensure we uphold and strengthen the protections of vulnerable women. This is why our government is taking additional steps to ensure it does not occur on our soil.

As we know, the introduction of Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act, would further strengthen the protections for vulnerable women, including those in our immigration system.

Among other measures, it would amend the Criminal Code to further prevent forced or underage marriage. These measures would criminalize: knowingly officiating at an underage or forced marriage; knowingly and actively participating in a wedding ceremony in which one party is marrying another against his or her will, or is under the age of 16 years old; and removing a minor from Canada for a forced or underage marriage.

In Canada, there is no national minimum age for marriage. Only in Quebec is the minimum age set at 16 years. In other parts of Canada, if members can even believe it, the common law minimum age varies from as low as 7 years old to 14 years. Setting a national minimum age of 16 years for marriage would make it clear that underage marriage is unacceptable in Canada and will not be tolerated here.

Other proposed amendments would create a new peace bond that would give courts the power to impose conditions on an individual when there is reasonable grounds to fear that a forced marriage or marriage under the age of 16 will otherwise occur. Such a peace bond could be used to require the surrender of a passport as well as to prevent a child from being taken outside of Canada.

Other amendments to the Civil Marriage Act proposed in Bill S-7 would require those getting married to give their free and enlightened consent to the marriage and would codify the requirements of the dissolution of any previous marriage.

Through these and other actions, our government is sending a strong message. Our country will not tolerate cultural traditions in Canada that deprive individuals of their human rights. Our government will continue to stand up for all victims of violence and abuse, and take necessary action to prevent these practices from happening on Canadian soil.

I would like to conclude by highlighting some of the investments that Status of Women has made, giving communities the tools to address harmful cultural practices: since 2007, over $70 million for projects to prevent and end violence against women and girls; of this amount, $2.8 million has been invested in projects that address harmful, cultural practices, such as violence committed in the name of so-called honour, forced genital mutilation and forced marriage; the elimination of child, early and forced marriage was a key priority for the Minister of Status of Women to raise as she led Canada's delegation to the 58th meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York earlier this year.

I support these measures and this motion. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this important debate and I would like to thank my hon. colleague as well.

Infrastructure November 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this week at the Collider Centre in my great city of London, Ontario, the Prime Minister announced $5.8 billion in new infrastructure that would go toward modernizing and repairing various infrastructure assets that would provide employment opportunities across the country, including the National Research Council in my riding, which will be expanding.

Many Londoners, including incoming London Mayor Matt Brown, heralded this announcement as good news for London. He said of the funding, “an investment of this nature is just fantastic news for our community, is fantastic news for our region”.

While the NDP member for London—Fanshawe continues to paint our community with doom and gloom after this great announcement, our government is busy taking action to put forward measures that will lead to job growth and a stronger economy.

I am proud to be a Londoner.

Violence Against Women November 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women , a day that provides a solemn reminder that violence against women affects us all.

Ending violence against women and girls is a top priority for our government. We have taken action by increasing support for victims of crime, including through the victims bill of rights.

I am proud of our government's action plan to address family violence and violent crimes against aboriginal women and girls, which will counter violent crimes against girls. It will provide support for shelters, and preventative activities will help establish a DNA database for missing persons. It addresses violence by supporting aboriginal skills and employment training initiatives.

It is also our government that passed historic legislation that gave aboriginal women living on first nation reserves the same matrimonial rights as all Canadians.

Let us remember today to take action in our own local communities that will end violence against women and girls in all its forms, now and throughout the year.