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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was post.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Independent MP for Don Valley East (Ontario)

Won her last election, in 2019, with 60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canadian Forces October 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, a number of ceremonies were held in 2004 to remember the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. During that conflict, nearly 2,000 members of the Royal Canadian Navy sacrificed their lives, including 752 members of the air force and 1,600 merchant marines.

Sadly, this month another member of our Canadian Forces was tragically lost in the north Atlantic. Lieutenant Chris Saunders lost his life while serving aboard HMCS Chicoutimi .

On behalf of my constituents of Don Valley East, I would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and shipmates of Lieutenant Saunders.

This Remembrance Day, I hope Canadians take the time to reflect on the sacrifices and achievements of our Canadian Forces, serving both in times of war and in peace.

Health October 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of State for Public Health.

As we all know, diseases such as SARS know no boundaries and the next national public health epidemic may only be a plane ride away. I would like to ask the minister, what steps has the government taken to ensure the safety of Canadians in the event of an outbreak like SARS?

Official Report October 20th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I rise to clarify remarks I made earlier this week and to make a correction to Hansard .

On October 12 during the debate on the Speech from the Throne, I referred to an investment that the Government of Canada has made in Ontario regarding affordable housing. On page 237 of Hansard , the figure I gave as the government's commitment was $56 million.

It has come to my attention that this figure is out of date. I would like to point out to the House the correct figures. Under the first phase of the affordable housing initiative, the federal allocation for Ontario is approximately $245 million. A significant portion of that allocation, totalling 2,300 units so far, has been announced, though it has not yet been spent. To date, the government has spent approximately $10 million on the creation of over 700 units in Ontario.

I hope this will clarify the record.

Criminal Code October 13th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-2, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Evidence Act.

In general, Bill C-2 supports a strong commitment in the Speech from the Throne to crackdown on child pornography. It would broaden the definition of child pornography and increase the maximum penalty for all child pornography offences. It would prohibit the sexual exploitation of youth and double the maximum penalty for the offence from 5 to 10 years.

The bill would also create two new voyeurism offences that would prohibit the distribution of voyeuristic material and enable police to seize pornographic material obtained in such a manner.

In particular, Bill C-2 contains a number of important reforms to our court system that I would like to bring to the attention of the House. The reforms proposed in Bill C-2 would change and improve the way in which a witness offers testimony in court. These improvements would effect three broad categories of witnesses: child victims or witnesses under the age of 18; victims of criminal harassment, commonly known as stalking; and witnesses with a disability that makes it difficult for them to communicate.

The courtroom can be a scary and intimidating place for anyone serving as a witness to crime. For victims who are providing their own testimony, the experience of appearing in court can be especially traumatic since they must essentially relive details of the crimes committed against them and most often they are required to do so in the presence of the accused.

For the victims of sexual abuses and other serious crimes, this process can cause extreme emotional upheaval and make it very difficult for a witness to provide a full and candid account. This is especially true for victims of child sexual abuse or those vulnerable with a disability since they are the least familiar with the justice system and may not fully understand or comprehend the court process.

While our current criminal law goes a long way in addressing the needs of young victims and witnesses in the courtroom, we need to do more to reduce the revictimization of all the vulnerable witnesses. At present, there are a number of tools available in the courtroom, known as testimonial aids, which include the following: the use of closed circuit television to prevent face to face encounters of the young victim with the accused; the setting up of a screen in the courtroom to avoid visual contact between the victim and the accused; the adoption of videotaped evidence; the exclusion of the public from the courtroom; publication bans; and the appointment of counsel to conduct cross-examination if the accused chooses to represent himself in court.

However the current laws require the crown or young witnesses to actually prove the need for such aids in court. This is problematic for two reasons: it requires child victims to provide additional court testimony and thereby increase their trauma; and crown attorneys are often discouraged by the extra court time it takes to process the application.

Bill C-2, therefore, would clarify the situation by making testimonial aids available upon request, rather than requiring young victims and witnesses to prove that such aids are necessary.

In addition, the reforms in Bill C-2 would make testimonial aids available to vulnerable adult victims and witnesses where they can demonstrate a need.

Perhaps most important, the bill addresses the situation where a child victim is exposed to hours and sometimes days of face to face cross-examination by the accused if the accused has chosen to represent himself or herself in court. By deliberately choosing to represent himself or herself in court, the accused is able to succeed in further intimidating the victim by cross-examination.

Bill C-2 would prevent the accused from using personal intimidation in the courtroom by the appointment, at the specific request of the victim, of a counsel to conduct any cross-examination. These reforms would also be made available to adult victims provided they can demonstrate the need for testimonial aids.

Victims of domestic and sexual assault, for example, are also at great risk of being revictimized through personal cross-examination by the accused.

I am sure many Canadians will recall the notorious Robin Sharpe case in which he chose to represent himself in court on charges of gross indecency. Mr. Sharpe was permitted to personally cross-examine his victim causing that person to experience tremendous emotional trauma and, in effect, revictimizing the witness.

Bill C-2 would prevent these types of situations from happening again in the future.

Victims of criminal harassment, commonly known as stalking, would also be able to request that a counsel be appointed to conduct cross-examination if the accused has elected to represent himself or herself in court. The court would be required to grant the order unless it interferes with the proper administration of justice.

Bill C-2 also includes amendments to publication ban provisions in the Criminal Code in order to ensure that those provisions remain effective as new communication technology emerges.

These reforms will be of interest to all members of the House who advocate for rights of victims of crime. I trust that all members will support them in order to further our collective goal of improving the experience of crime victims.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has stated that the government has platitudes and rhetoric. I do not believe that $100 billion in tax cuts is a rhetoric or a platitude. Nor is the commitment for $41 billion in health care or the commitment for $7 billion in cities.

I would like to remind the hon. member that when the federal Liberal Party took over just 10 years ago, the government had a $400 billion debt and a $43 billion deficit. We have to put our house in order before we can make commitments. I commend the Prime Minister for being so disciplined in bringing such fiscal restraint, but also investing in social programs that were so necessary.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as a new member of Parliament, there are too many questions, so I will basically choose those that I am capable of answering.

There are things that are not known and that is that Canadians received the highest tax reduction from the government. The government has been so fiscally prudent that it has not been showing that 35% tax reduction. The government also has been working with the provinces and territories. I think it is the collaboration that will help us all build the infrastructure that we want. The road map cannot be done in isolation. I commend the Prime Minister for being so conciliatory and working with the provinces and the territories.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply October 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the constituents of Don Valley East for electing me to represent them. I am honoured by their overwhelming confidence. I also would like to congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker.

This week Canada was recognized by the world's central bankers as the best fiscal performer among the G-7 industrialized countries. According to the Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements, Canada posted one of the sharpest improvements in its fiscal situation, and consequently has the brightest economic outlook. With the federal books balanced for the past seven years in a row, the federal government is now in a far better position to meet fiscal demands today than it has been in recent memory.

Prior to 1993, the federal government was saddled with rising deficits and an ever increasing federal debt. Double digit interest rates coupled with skyrocketing unemployment rates dashed the hopes and dreams of millions of Canadians. The federal government was awash in red ink and it began to receive severe warnings from the international monetary fund.

I am an accountant by trade, and having worked in both the private and public sectors, I can tell members that the success of any organization depends on responsible fiscal management. I can therefore assure members that the success of this government is no accident.

The current Prime Minister, who previously served as finance minister, immediately adopted a disciplined fiscal policy in 1993-94 designed to quickly eliminate the deficit. The ripple effects of sound financial management were felt throughout the economy. Interest rates began to fall and the unemployment rate began to drop. Gradually the quality of life of Canadians improved as the deficit grew smaller and smaller. That is why we must not squander our current fiscal balance by spending our way back into deficit. This is something the federal government cannot afford to do.

All governments face pressures to spend on competing and often conflicting priorities. Municipalities, provinces, territories and the federal government all feel the pinch to spend more money, but it is the federal government that must be the first to demonstrate leadership and practise sound fiscal policy. It is essential that members of the House and of our provincial counterparts rise above partisanship to address public interests. That is exactly what the Prime Minister intends to do in the coming weeks when he sits down with the provinces and the territories to introduce the most fundamental reform of equalization programs in almost 50 years. Again, I must emphasize that we cannot afford to return to deficit spending to satisfy short term and nearsighted political agendas.

Last week the government outlined its vision for the future with the Speech from the Throne. It is a vision backed with a plan to invest in Canadians. At the same time, it will maintain a sustainable budget that will never let us fall back into deficit spending.

At the centre of this strategy is a 10 year health care plan worth $41 billion. It will ensure that patients will have better access to services. Most important, it will provide the provinces and territories with predictable long term funding. The government also has committed $4.5 billion over the next six years to establish a wait time reduction fund. This will shorten the time it takes for Canadians to access critical care services.

Parents and children can also look forward to a national child care system. The federal government will implement this system in cooperation with the provinces and territories. We will also provide support for those who provide care to loved ones who are aging, infirm or suffer from severe disabilities.

The federal government will also establish a new horizons program for seniors. This program will ensure that Canadian seniors remain active and engaged in community life. The plan also affirms the federal government's commitment to provide a new deal for cities and communities. It will give municipalities more fiscal freedom by receiving a portion of the federal gas tax. The federal government will also help local governments by enhancing existing programs such as the affordable housing Initiative, the supporting community partnership Initiative for the homeless and the residential rehabilitation assistance program.

Prior to the throne speech, the federal government already contributed $12 billion in infrastructure funding to Canadian communities since 1994. It has already provided municipalities with full relief from the GST. This means all local governments will have $7 billion more at their disposal over the next 10 years. In Ontario this will mean municipalities will save $243 million in GST relief for this fiscal year alone.

Other initiatives in Ontario include: $435 million for expansion of GO transit and the York region transit services; $298 million for Ontario municipalities under the municipal rural infrastructure fund; and $56 million committed for affordable housing.

To ensure a clean environment, the government will proceed with its commitment to implement the Kyoto agreement. This strategy will make clean air, water and soil a top priority.

Finally, the federal government intends to assert a stronger presence in the international community. The peace and nation building initiative will have three principal elements: deploy the Canadian corps, which will harness the expertise and idealism of civilians with an emphasis on recruiting the talents and idealism of young people; reduce or forgive debts owed by poor and deserving countries; and increase the Canadian Forces by 5,000 regular personnel and 3,000 reservists.

In closing, when I first visited the Parliament buildings as a newly elected member of Parliament, somebody pointed out to me an inscription carved on the Peace Tower that befits a Speech from the Throne. The inscription reads, “Without vision the people perish”. That is exactly why the federal government has outlined an ambitious and exciting agenda for the people of Canada.

As the member of Parliament for Don Valley East, I am both pleased and proud to be a member of this government. More than anything, I am looking forward to being a part of the larger vision for Canada.

Health Care October 6th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, health care is a key commitment that was outlined in yesterday's Speech from the Throne.

For a long time Canadians have been telling their governments to stop arguing about funding and to get down to the business of fixing the current state of our national health care system. All Canadians therefore welcome the work of the Prime Minister, the provincial premiers, and the territorial leaders to agree on the 10 year plan to strengthen health care.

The plan holds all governments to account by setting clear targets to achieve meaningful reform. It will ensure better access to key tests and treatments, reduce waiting times for critical services, and increase the number of doctors and nurses and other health care professionals, including faster assessment and integration of those trained overseas.

As a newly elected member of the House, I look forward to working with my colleagues from all parties to ensure that Canadians receive the benefits of a strengthened and revitalized health care system.