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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

Fraud Prevention Month April 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Competition Bureau of Canada for a successful Fraud Prevention Month. This is its 12th annual event.

Throughout the month of March, Canadians were educated on how to recognize fraud and take steps to protect themselves. Any one of us can be a target of fraud. Some of my constituents in Don Valley East have been targeted by fraudsters posing as either CRA or CSIS agents.

Senior citizens are often targets of this insidious and criminal activity. There are three ways by which senior citizens fall victim to financial fraud: identity theft, credit or debit card fraud, and the grandparent scam.

All Canadians need to be educated about fraud, so that they can recognize and report it to local law enforcement. I applaud the Competition Bureau for its work on fraud prevention and for raising awareness for all Canadians.

Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act March 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is important when we are going into labour negotiations or wanting the participation of the RCMP that the chair of the labour relations board includes at least two members of the RCMP so that the board understands the unique nature of the job that the RCMP does and there is bargaining in good faith.

Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act March 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite's question is a very important one, because sexual harassment in any workplace is not acceptable.

Workplace safety for all is part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, the collective bargaining in this new bill is really to address the issues around what the Supreme Court has ruled.

This bill will go to committee, and I think further discussion is important. The committee's input is critical to making the bill better.

Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act March 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-7, a new labour relations framework for RCMP members and reservists.

This legislation marks a significant milestone in the history of both the RCMP and Canadian labour relations. With the passage of this bill, for the first time RCMP members and reservists would have the same collective bargaining rights as other police forces in Canada. They would be able to choose an employee organization to represent them in labour negotiations with their employer, the Treasury Board of Canada.

Specifically, this bill proposes to amend the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act to create a new labour relations regime for RCMP members and reservists.

There are a number of particularly noteworthy aspects of this legislation that I would now like to highlight.

The bill would give RCMP members and reservists the right to have an independent bargaining agent of their own. It would provide for a single national bargaining unit for reservists and RCMP members appointed to a rank. In order to be certified as the bargaining agent for the RCMP bargaining unit, an employee organization would be required to have the representation of RCMP members as its primary mandate. Moreover, the process provided under the Public Service Labour Relations Act would be used to exclude other managerial and confidential positions. This means that the bill would exclude officers at the inspector level and above from representation.

As well, the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board would be the administrative tribunal for collective bargaining matters related to the RCMP bargaining unit, and grievances related to collective bargaining would be addressed. The board would be required to take into account the unique operational reality of the RCMP. As members know, due to public safety and security considerations, RCMP regular members are not permitted to strike. This would continue under the new regime. Instead, the dispute resolution mechanism would be binding arbitration, which is consistent with other police forces across the country. That is the essence of the bill.

The bill is a targeted response to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling, and is meant to address its decision. As a government, we respect the Supreme Court and are committed to providing the RCMP with legislation that brings its labour regime in line with the Supreme Court ruling.

Let me provide a bit of background.

The bill is the end result of a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada issued more than year ago in January 2015. At that time, the court ruled in the legal case cited as Mounted Police Association of Ontario v. Canada (Attorney General). It found that some federal legislation and regulations relating to RCMP labour relations were unconstitutional because they prevented the formation of an independent RCMP employee organization. As such, they contravened the freedom of association guarantee enshrined in paragraph 2(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court gave the Government of Canada until January 16, 2016, or 12 months, to consider its options and respond with a labour relations framework that is compliant with the charter. The government took steps to bring the law into compliance with the Supreme Court ruling.

This past summer, the Treasury Board Secretariat engaged an independent consultant to survey regular members of the RCMP. The purpose of these consultations was to canvas the RCMP regular members' views on the potential elements of a labour relations framework that would allow them to choose their representatives and bargain collectively.

The process consisted of a survey and town hall meetings. More than 9,000 regular members completed this survey, and more than 650 participated in town hall meetings. Their feedback was then compiled into a report, which was posted on the secretariat's website on December 7, 2015. This report was helpful in contributing to a legislative framework that would be in line with the Supreme Court's ruling.

We have taken a fair and reasonable approach to examining this complex matter. This necessitated careful consideration of the next steps, including consultation with regular members of the RCMP, and with the provinces and territories with RCMP police services agreements. Now, after more than a year of consideration and consultation with the RCMP regular members, and within the Canadian jurisdictions that contract for RCMP services, the government has acted on what it has learned.

The bill we have tabled today is the next step. It would give RCMP members and reservists greater independence from management and freedom of choice in labour relation matters. This is indeed a historical occasion for our national police, and I am proud to speak in support of this carefully considered piece of legislation.

The bill is very much in keeping with our belief in fair and balanced labour relations. Engaging in collective bargaining is a right long since exercised by other police forces in Canada, and we think it is time to extend that right to the RCMP.

I urge all members to support this bill and ensure that those Canadians who dedicate themselves to defending the law have their constitutional rights defended by the law.

Business of Supply March 21st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that when one pitches one religious group against another, it creates more problems for that religious group.

It is important to expand the mandate to allow not only religious freedom but freedom of everything. Democracy means the ability to be able to practice one's faith without persecution and without any negative consequences. It also means that there are civil societies that are allowed to talk freely and media and journalists who are allowed to write freely, and that is what this office should be doing.

Business of Supply March 21st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, we would like to keep the Office of Religious Freedom, which was very narrow in its focus, but we would like to expand it.

The expansion will look at democracy and democratic rights and ensure that people understand that pluralism is a strength, not a weakness—pluralism in culture, pluralism in language, pluralism in religion, pluralism in different beliefs.

It will be important as we consult that we ensure there is an expansion to include rights and democracies.

Business of Supply March 21st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, what we are saying is we would like to broaden the scope.

We cannot just focus on religious minority rights. We need to focus on human rights. We need to focus on pluralism. That can be fostered by going out and supporting international organizations and civil societies in developing pluralistic societies.

With war and people getting carried away with sectarian violence, it is important that we work with His Highness. Every government has worked with His Highness because His Highness is a genius in pluralism.

Business of Supply March 21st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, today's debate is important because the promotion and protection of human rights, and especially the freedom of religion or belief, are integral to Canada's leadership in the world.

Today's world is challenging and complex. It is rife with conflict, oftentimes along sectarian lines, where human rights abuses are rampant and the rule of law is non-existent.

The world is seized by the crisis created by the Syrian conflict, the horrific abuses of Daesh, the extraordinary flow of refugees that has resulted, and the toll that has taken on the entire region.

Faced with what are global challenges, some have retreated into xenophobic sentiments, which is a worrying trend we should aim to slow, stop and reverse.

Our government is committed to renewing and strengthening Canada's role in protecting human rights abroad. The Prime Minister has said many times that Canada's diversity is a strength and not a weakness.

As a multicultural and multi-faith country, Canada is well suited to promote inclusive and accountable governance, peaceful pluralism, respect for diversity, and human rights all over the world.

As Confederation approaches its 150th anniversary, it is interesting to note that on the international stage, Canada is seen not only as a safe and prosperous country, but also as an open country where each individual has the opportunity to participate in all aspects of society and has a say in the decisions that affect their lives. Regardless of their place of birth, mother tongue, gender, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs, the respect for diversity and for every person's inherent dignity is truly a Canadian value.

Our new approach will make the most of Canada's pluralist experience as a multicultural and multi-faith country, in order to improve our efforts to protect peaceful pluralism, respect for diversity, and human rights.

Pluralism involves co-operation, active dialogue, and compromise in order to achieve a balanced, inclusive, and equitable participation of all citizens in political, economic, and socio-cultural life. This is as it should be.

Canada is committed to promoting these values at home and abroad. One example serves to concretely demonstrate this point. The government's decision to welcome more than 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada has demonstrated that we take seriously our shared responsibility to help people around the world who are displaced and persecuted. We are proud to have taken this step, and we are confident that these refugees will enrich and strengthen Canadian diversity and culture.

We believe there is a critical role for Canada to play in sharing our successes with the world and, yes, some hard lessons learned. Inclusive and accountable governance, peaceful pluralism, respect for diversity, and human rights are fundamental values that make Canada strong, culturally, politically, and economically.

Canada has been an example for many as respect for diversity is a global issue that should concern us all, given the misguided belief by some that diversity in all its forms, whether cultural, religious, ethnic, political, or social, is a threat. Canada's pluralistic experience as a multicultural and multi-faith country provides an opportunity for the promotion and protection of human rights.

That is why our Liberal government in 2005 partnered with His Highness the Aga Khan in the development of the Global Centre for Pluralism here in Ottawa, Canada. His Highness stated, “Successful experience with democracy, civil society and pluralism are the national genius of Canada of which much more of the developing world is in dire need.”

In countries where democracy has developed strong roots, pluralism is being continuously reinforced by the respect for fundamental freedoms that all citizens enjoy. We are talking here about respect for the rights of freedom of expression, of association, of peaceful assembly, and of religion. In countries where these freedoms are upheld, dialogue is fostered and people can express their views peacefully. Canada has a clear role to play in promoting these values internationally, and can do so through bilateral and multilateral diplomatic engagement and through international development assistance by supporting democratic institutions and representative bodies; supporting other countries in the strengthening of their legal and judicial development; advancing democratic participation in civic life and decision-making; ensuring a safe and enabling environment for civil society, including for women, youth, and marginalized groups; and supporting free and fair electoral processes and institutions.

As previously mentioned by my colleague, the Office of Religious Freedom, which was established under the previous government, has done good work. Mr. Andrew Bennett has to be thanked for the work he has done, and we would like to expand on the work. That is why it is important that we look at expanding or broadening the scope of this institution.

That brings me to quote a genius on pluralism, His Highness the Aga Khan. He said, “Canada is in an almost unique position to broaden the scope of her engagement with the developing world by sharing very widely her experience in humane governance to support pluralism, the development of civil society, and meritocratic premises for action."

We, the government, believe that the role of the Office of Religious Freedom as it is currently set up should be broadened. It should not focus only on protecting minority rights based on religion but also on ensuring the development of human rights and pluralism. This is done by working with our international partners and civil society to ensure that this is implemented. That is why our government is pursuing a comprehensive agenda, one that marshals our diversity and our support of all human rights in pursuit of peace. The strengthening of institutions supporting pluralism is as critical for the welfare and progress of human society as poverty alleviation and conflict prevention.

I would like to conclude this speech with an inspiring quotation from His Highness the Aga Khan. In 2010, His Highness spoke these words during an annual discussion on citizenship and public good:

The world we seek is not a world where difference is erased, but where difference can be a powerful force for good, helping us to fashion a new sense of co-operation and coherence in our world, and to build together a better life for all.

These are our goals, and Canada has a role to play.

Status of Women March 10th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, on March 5, 2016, I hosted an International Women's Day town hall at the Donway Baptist Church in my riding of Don Valley East.

The event was well received and was attended by a great number of women and men. The participants were pleased to learn about our Liberal government's initiatives in the areas of economic equity and gender parity.

I would like to thank Rev. Darrell Maguire for reminding us that it is women, our mothers, who nurture society. His example of his mother and the influence she had on his life was uplifting.

It is important to recognize the achievements of women and know that there is still so much to be done to promote gender equity in Canada and across the world. On my behalf and on behalf of all those who participated in the event, I would like to thank Rev. Maguire and his team for their wonderful hospitality.

I look forward to working with all members of this House as we move towards greater empowerment of women and girls here in Canada.

Employment Insurance February 25th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I agree that EI is a temporary measure. Yes, it is a safety net. However, people want to work, because they have pride and self-esteem. Our labour market development agreements with provinces, the job fund agreements to support training for unemployed workers, are $500 million agreements. There are so many ways we can provide hope to the residents of Canada. The residents in my riding very much appreciate that we are taking a progressive way to addressing the issues, going from under-employment or unemployment to jobs.