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Liberal MP for Don Valley East (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 58% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Status of Women March 24th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, with the release of budget 2017, Canadians have seen the first-ever gender statement on a budget. As a government, we know that all Canadians are affected differently by budgetary policies, and therefore how important it is to add a gender-based lens to these decisions.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Status of Women inform the House what this gender statement actually means for all Canadians?

The Budget March 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as an accountant, I do not know how the member opposite is calculating the figures, but if one looks at the $3,600 per child that was given to families, the child care spaces are above and beyond the Canada child care benefit, which has lifted 317,000 kids out of poverty.

Coming back to child care spaces, I was part of the Paul Martin government, and I remember clearly that when the budget was presented and 250,000 child care spaces were given, members of the NDP got into bed with the Conservatives and rejected that budget. Now, 10 years later, they have zero to show for it.

The Budget March 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as far as I can see in the summary of the budget, there is $20 billion plus that is being invested in this budget, and that investment is because the Federation of Canadian Municipalities talked to the federal government and insisted that the provinces and the municipalities decide how these funds will be distributed. We are talking to them, consulting with them, and it is important that this money, with the help of all the MPs, go to the right place and benefit all the communities.

The Budget March 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Winnipeg Centre.

I would like to take the time today to talk about the government's budget 2017, and specifically, the historic investments in infrastructure.

In budget 2016, we invested the first tranche of funds for infrastructure to support the repair of our aging pipes and roads, the building and refurbishing of affordable housing, the upgrading of public transit, and the improvement of indigenous communities. With the fall economic statement, we built on these efforts by targeting public transit, green and social infrastructure, as well as projects in northern and rural communities, and ones that facilitate trade.

The total federal investment in infrastructure now tops $180 billion over 12 years. These infrastructure investments will help ensure a cleaner environment for our children and grandchildren, while serving as a driver of economic growth.

The 2016 infrastructure investments are already making a difference in communities across Canada. In my riding of Don Valley East, we have benefited in the areas of repairs to the housing stock, bike lanes, and walking trails. With budget 2017, we plan to do even more.

We plan to invest in faster, more efficient public transit systems that will help people get to work on time, and at the end of the long day, back home faster to their families. In my riding, and in many urban ridings, constituents tell us that this is very important to them. That is what constituents told us in our budget consultation processes. They want better infrastructure. They said that commuting times were taking away from their productivity.

In our consultations, we heard as well about cleaner sources of energy. Therefore, our budget proposes to help build communities that are cleaner and less reliant on sources of energy that pollute the air, harm the environment, and compromise our health. Constituents who suffer from asthma and other breathing issues are thankful that our government is so keen on cleaning the environment.

Hard-working Canadians also need decent, affordable places to live. I am glad our government listened to the people and is investing $11.2 billion in this area.

In the area of a clean growth economy, I would like to expound on some things. Canadians understand that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. The government agrees. That is why our government is further investing $21.9 billion in green infrastructure. This is on top of the $5 billion it invested in the previous budget.

The investment of $21.9 billion in green infrastructure will support the implementation of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. We will support projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, deliver clean water, safely manage waste water, help communities prepare for challenges that result from climate change, and help build a cleaner, better connected electricity system. This is welcome news to my young constituents who are focusing their sights on jobs of the future.

I would also like to talk about how social infrastructure can help transform communities and help overcome social economic barriers to a truly inclusive society. From early learning and child care for our children in their first years, to home care that supports us in our final years, social infrastructure helps Canadians at every stage of their lives. Building on an initial investment of $3.4 billion over five years announced one year ago, the government will invest $21.9 billion over 11 years to support social infrastructure in Canadian communities, including early learning and child care, affordable housing, cultural and recreation infrastructure, and home care.

In my riding of Don Valley East, there are many families who have to choose between one parent working or both parents working. If both parents are working, they have to look for affordable child care. Child care spaces are expensive or unavailable. It is a question of supply and demand. I am very proud that budget 2017 provides $7 billion over 10 years toward the creation of child care spaces. This will greatly help not only my constituents, but Canadians who are aiming to join the middle class. The investment of $7 billion is over and above the investment we made in 2016.

The government will work in co-operation with provinces, territories, and indigenous partners to provide help to families most in need. A portion of the investment will be dedicated to improve access to culturally appropriate early learning and child care programs for indigenous children both on and off reserve.

Finally, safe, affordable housing is a cornerstone of sustainable, inclusive communities and a prerequisite to middle-class prosperity, yet too many Canadian households struggle to find affordable housing. To address this challenge, budget 2016 invested $2.2 billion over two years, starting in 2016-17, in the affordable housing sector. We also provided funding for low-cost loans and new financing tools to encourage municipalities, housing developers, and not-for-profit housing providers to develop more affordable rental housing units, and we launched nationwide consultation on a new, inclusive national housing strategy to help guide the way forward.

Thanks to the overwhelming participation of provinces, territories, indigenous and other community stakeholders, and the public over the past several months, we will now commit more than $11.2 billion over 11 years to a variety of initiatives designed to build, renew, and repair Canada's stock of affordable housing. This investment is a blessing for the constituents in my riding. We have seen the affordable housing stocks shrink. We have seen it is in dire need of repair and renewal. Many Canadians in urban centres know how difficult it is to buy or rent properties.

Our strategy will provide a road map for governments and housing providers across the country. As housing needs vary greatly by community, the government is committed to working with the provinces and territories to ensure that the unique needs of communities all across Canada can be met.

The unprecedented investment in infrastructure that we are making in budget 2017 is about more than improving public transit and repairing aging roads and sewer systems. It is also about building better communities by providing Canadians with cleaner water to drink and cleaner air to breathe. By increasing access to child care, affordable housing, and other key social infrastructure, our budget will strengthen and grow the middle class.

Our 2016 investments have already created good, well-paying jobs to the tune of 250,000 jobs. This ensures that we have a burgeoning middle class.

The trajectory is positive. If we wish to be economic engines, we need to have an inclusive growth strategy. That is what budget 2017 is doing.

Communication Disabilities Access Canada March 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, founded in 2001, and located in my riding of Don Valley East, Communication Disabilities Access Canada is a national not-for-profit organization that promotes accessibility, inclusion, and human rights for people with speech and language disabilities.

Over 400,000 Canadians have speech, language, or communication disabilities not necessarily caused by hearing loss. Regardless of the cause of their disability, everyone who has a communication disorder is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Many of these people experience discrimination when looking for jobs and accessing other social services. It is therefore important to have a national strategy to ensure consistency in services available to anyone with speech and language disabilities, because accessibility is a human right.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, pre-clearance has been in place since 1999, and this legislation would enhance the economic benefits. There are 400,000 people who cross the border, and $2.5 billion a day in business. Economic benefits will be greatly enhanced if people utilize the pre-clearance process.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, things are not always perfect in a democracy, so therefore whether the committee process will work or will not work, it is important to note that we can vote bills down in the House or eliminate them.

With regard to U.S. border guards carrying arms, whatever the Canadians can do, the U.S. border guards can do at the pre-clearance point. Reciprocity is contained within the bill. If there are any clauses that make no sense to committee members, they should have the chance to review and refuse or eliminate those clauses.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, as MPs, we see a lot of bills come before us, and not all bills are comprehensive or totally perfect. It is our job as MPs to debate the issues and to bring them forward to committee. It is at committee where this bill will be very well debated and looked at thoroughly. Any questions or concerns people have can be raised at committee. They can bring in witnesses and the right people.

Preclearance Act, 2016 March 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue our second reading debate on Bill C-23, the legislation that would give us the opportunity to provide faster, charter-protected travel for Canadians. These crucial updates to the pre-clearance framework would enhance security, improve cross-border flow, and produce substantial economic and travel benefits for Canadians.

We have already benefited from over six decades of successful pre-clearance. It has been beneficial for businesses, for the economy, and for the ordinary traveller. We are now in a position to implement an agreement with the United States that would make these advantages available to more Canadians in more parts of the country.

We have heard supportive voices for the expansion of this bill from business, from chambers of commerce, from the tourism industry, from municipalities, from other levels of government, and from ordinary Canadians. Most recently, before we adjourned last week to spend time in our ridings, we heard from many members of this House that Bill C-23 would bring economic benefits and ease travel restrictions while protecting Canadian rights. It is on this note that we think we are on the right track to continue the legislative process.

However, we have also heard concerns from some members. Many of these concerns have already been addressed, both during debate in the chamber and through the technical briefing provided to journalists last week by Public Safety Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency, and live-streamed by the media. This was on top of technical briefings provided to parliamentarians last year. However, to ensure that there is clarity on some of these issues, I would like to focus my remarks today on two specific topics: travellers' rights and reciprocity between Canada and the United States.

First, on rights, we all know that both Canada and the U.S. set and enforce their own rules with respect to who or what enters their countries. However, for Canadians undergoing U.S. customs and immigration procedures while still in Canada, Bill C-23 would ensure that Canadian legal and charter standards would apply to that process. This is a distinct advantage over entering the United States at a border through a regular port of entry inside U.S. territory, where Canadian charter standards do not apply to the conduct of U.S. officers.

Let us take the example of withdrawal. If travellers wanted to withdraw from a pre-clearance site in Canada and not continue on to the U.S., they would be able to do so under Bill C-23, just as they can under the current pre-clearance agreement. The only adjustment here is that American officials could ask travellers to identify themselves and give their reasons for withdrawing. This is to avoid illicit probing of pre-clearance sites. The alternative would be to go to the United States and submit to examination by the U.S. authorities on U.S. soil. At that point, it would not be possible to withdraw from the process at all, because the person would already be in the United States.

I have heard some members argue that travellers are already protected under the current pre-clearance arrangement, and so no change is needed. The problem is that we have pre-clearance right now at only eight airports in Canada. If people are travelling from anywhere else, the protection of undergoing U.S. border procedures in Canada and therefore having the right to withdraw is not available to these people. With Bill C-23, we could begin expanding pre-clearance so that more Canadian travellers could enjoy the benefits and protections.

Another point that needs to be clarified regarding travellers' rights is that U.S. pre-clearance officers would not have the authority to enforce U.S. criminal law or make arrests in Canada. If U.S. pre-clearance officers have reasonable grounds to believe that a traveller has committed an offence under Canadian law, they can detain that traveller without making an arrest, but only in order to transfer the person to Canadian authorities right away. This is not new. Rather, it is part of the existing pre-clearance framework that has been in place since 1999.

In other words, contrary to what has been speculated, there is no compromise here on rights and values. On the contrary, Bill C-23 would expand the protective umbrella of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms so that it can apply to Canadians flying out of airports such as Billy Bishop and the Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City. They are not currently covered. It would also be applicable for the first time to Canadians travelling using other modes of transportation, beginning with train routes in Montreal and British Columbia.

Canadians expect us to make sure that their rights and values, and the protections afforded by the charter, our Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Human Rights Act, are front and centre in all legislation we consider in this House. By making charter protections more widely available, Bill C-23 is a step forward for the rights of Canadian travellers.

The second issue I would like to address concerns the question of reciprocity. It must be stressed that the updated and expanded approach to pre-clearance being discussed here would be absolutely and fully reciprocal. There would be no authorities conferred on the border officers of one country that would not be conferred on those of the other.

Each country, as well, would retain primary jurisdiction over most criminal offences that might be committed by an officer in the course of his or her duties, while the host country would retain primary jurisdiction for the most serious crimes. As such, fears that this bill constitutes the ceding of our sovereignty are misplaced. Rather, Bill C-23 would implement a mutually beneficial agreement that would impose the same obligations and confer the same authorities on both parties.

The bill would improve safety and security for both countries. It would make travel and trade more efficient and expeditious. Also, as is clearly laid out in article II of the agreement with the United States, it would ensure that each county's laws and constitutions would apply to all pre-clearance operations. This means that U.S. officers operating in Canada would have to abide by the charter, as would Canadian border officers in the United States.

I cannot reiterate enough that more than 400,000 people flow across the border every day. There is close to $2.5 billion in two-way trade that moves between our two countries each and every day. It is therefore mutually beneficial for both countries to build on the success of existing pre-clearance operations while simultaneously protecting, even enhancing, the rights of Canadian travellers. This is the backbone of the bill before us today.

I encourage all members to support Bill C-23.

World Interfaith Harmony Week February 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today is the last day of celebrations of World Interfaith Harmony Week, as adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2010 to promote better understanding of different cultures and faiths.

In Canada, there were celebrations across the country including harmony through music, culture, and dialogue.

In light of the recent events in Canada and across the globe, the work of World Interfaith Harmony Week is crucial.

I encourage all members to reach out to people of different traditions and backgrounds to build bridges across all faiths.

Canada has long been a diverse and accepting nation, and we must never allow a minority of people to spread hate and create intolerance. Let us all embrace and practise the motto of WIHW: love of the good and love of thy neighbour.

Peace, om shanti, salaam, shalom.