Valerie (Val) MEREDITH

MEREDITH, Valerie (Val)

Personal Data

South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
Birth Date
April 22, 1949
businesswoman, realtor

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
  Surrey--White Rock--South Langley (British Columbia)
June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
  • Canadian Alliance Caucus Chair (March 27, 2000 - July 31, 2000)
March 27, 2000 - October 22, 2000
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
  • Canadian Alliance Caucus Chair (March 27, 2000 - July 31, 2000)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
April 10, 2002 - May 23, 2004
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
April 16, 2002 - May 23, 2004
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)
December 23, 2003 - May 23, 2004
  South Surrey--White Rock--Langley (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 3 of 216)

October 24, 2003

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to the bill brought forward by my colleague and neighbour, Bill C-338, on street racing.

I will not duplicate what others before me have said but I will talk about what street racing is. I do not think it is a new phenomenon. It is not something that is just here now. Movies like Grease and others show that it has been around. What is really different about street racing today is the cars and the attitudes. In today's world we have young people who perhaps have a little bit too much money, a little bit too much time on their hands and very little regard for the people outside their own circle of friends.

The situation calls for much more than this legislation. However what I think my colleague is attempting to say is that where it is happening and where the courts and police are able to convict the perpetrators, the courts must deal with it in a more serious way.

We must send a message to our young people that if they want to race their cars they should go to an area that has been set aside for racing vehicles and which has safety measures in place in case something goes wrong. That would take them out of a situation where innocent people could be hurt or killed.

Vancouver has had more than its fair share of incidents where young people, usually in the evening, have prearranged locations where they race each other down city streets with regular traffic. Young people, generally, do not have the experience to handle the situations in which they find themselves and sometimes they lose control of their cars. These situations are dangerous, not only for themselves and their passengers, but also for people who happen to be crossing the street, walking down the sidewalk or who are driving their own vehicles and just happen to get in the way.

I am also a little concerned that in some situations, although the cars are being impounded and therefore there is a financial cost to street racing, what has not been said is that those impounded cars generally go back to the family, usually the parents because they own the car. Therefore the cars are not being taken away and impounded for long periods of time.

The actual penalty these young people are receiving is having to stay home for a couple of months or receiving probation and having to talk to a probation officer. From incidents that have been recited earlier, a lot of these young people, who have the attitude that causes the problem in the first place, totally disregard the fact that they do not have a driver's licence any more and are on probation, go out and are caught speeding again without a licence. There have to be tougher penalties for those who have a reckless attitude and who think they can flaunt the law and the court orders given to them.

A stronger message has to be sent to these young people but it cannot be done through the police. The police are doing all they can. They have increased the unmarked police vehicles which have video systems so that they can record the activity for evidence in court appearances. All the detachments in the area have new radar units, at least in British Columbia. They are getting more equipment like spiked belts so that speeding cars can be stopped. However unless the courts follow up on activities in which the police are involved, how on earth are we to send a lasting message to these young people?

I have read articles where places are being created for these races in Ontario. There is a place in Mission, B.C., where they can race in a safe environment. It is not that they cannot get it out of their system somewhere. It is that they have a reckless disregard for the safety not only of themselves, but of other people by racing on city streets. It will take a lot more effort than what the government has seemingly been willing to do.

My colleague from Surrey North gave a very logical reason of why he is doing it. He gave a dissertation of the support that he has received from all provinces across the country. Yet the response from the government was that because it was not a government bill and because it did not come up with the idea, it will find some reason not to support it.

Frankly, I am becoming tired with that kind of attitude from the Liberals across the way. Not all good ideas come from the Liberal Party and it is about time that it accepted that.

When Liberals deliberately take an issue such as this and find some small, irrelevant reason not to support the concept, then they should present a better form. If there are problems with the fact that they do not like the minimum sentences and that they do not like this or that, then why do they not come up with some amendments or some way that it can be advanced in a better form?

I think Canadians want minimum sentences. Canadians are tired of seeing the courts disregarding the feelings that Canadians have toward their laws and where their laws should be going. I do not think Canadians want to see young people who are caught racing convicted of reckless driving. Causing bodily harm or death is another thing.

With reckless driving, Canadians do not want young people locked away and the key thrown away. However, Canadians want to have a serious enough penalty that young people are not going to be reoffending. Canadians want them to see that this is not a fun and cool thing to be doing. This is a criminal act and there is a criminal price to pay.

I am sorry that the Liberals do not seem to think that Canadians have the right to care. However, Canadians do care. Canadians understand that the next time they are on a city street they may be the ones ending up in a wrecked vehicle with a loved one dead beside them at the side of a road caused by young people racing in cars with a total disregard for other people on the road.

Canadians are concerned about this issue and the Liberal government should also be concerned.

If the Liberals have some concerns about the way this legislation is put together they should not just defeat it for the sake of defeating it because it is not their idea. The government should help put it in a form that will be acceptable to all. I think I am right in assuming that the government would find that most of the opposition parties would support the bill. Instead of turning it down point blank, let us get it in a form that would be acceptable to the government.

Let us ensure that the reason that we are doing this is to protect Canadians. We are not only protecting Canadians but protecting the young people who are becoming involved in this reckless activity. Let us ensure that the message that is given to them is a very strong message in order to discourage that kind of behaviour.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
Full View Permalink

October 24, 2003

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear to us that the minister is waffling on answering this very direct question. The question is very clear.

What the minister has said is that perhaps it is the regulations that do not allow all widows to be covered under this program. My question to the minister is, will he see that the regulations are changed by order in council to include all widows, so that all widows, regardless of the timing of their husbands' deaths, will qualify for this program?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Children of Deceased Veterans Education Assistance Act
Full View Permalink

October 23, 2003

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance)

Madam Speaker, I have listened with interest and I do not disagree with some of the comments that have identified. There is a higher population of aboriginals in our corrections systems. I really find it amazing that their logic would say it will solve everything by giving them special sentences after they have committed crimes. I do not buy that.

I spent 15 years in Canada's north. I lived in a community that was 50% aboriginal. The aboriginal community got high offices on our local council because we treated them as equals. They ran businesses and were treated with respect in the business community because we treated them as equals. They rose to significant influence in our community because the community treated them as equals.

To have this philosophy that the only way aboriginal people will rise from oppression is by treating them differently is false. Our justice system is based on all people will be treated fairly and equally under the law. The fact that aboriginals have horrible living conditions on reserves will not be resolved by giving them special consideration under law.

What they need is substantial support from the federal government. The federal government has to stop treating them like children and stop denying them their proper place in society. The government does not give them good health care, which is its responsibility and it does not give them good education, which is also the government's responsibility.

Yes, there is a high suicide rate among young people on reserves. Yes, there are poor living conditions on reserves. We should be dealing with those kinds of issues.

To in law assume that it is only aboriginals who live in poverty is not true. Many non-aboriginal people live in poverty. Many non-aboriginal people are uneducated, do not have jobs and incomes and are on welfare and social assistance. To say that the way to solve all problems is to treat them differently in law will not resolve those issues.

To take our legal system and break it down on special conditions for this and special considerations for that, that has already happened. It is not codified. It is not written down in law. When a judge looks at all the circumstances and deals with anyone who appears before the court who has committed a crime, all these circumstances that have a place in the crime which was committed are taken into consideration by the judge when a sentence comes down, and so it should be.

We have argued that much of this does not need to be codified because it is already in practice. However, when we start codifying stuff, then we are starting to say that the law is not equal and is not fair. When we go down that slippery slope, we start breaking down what law is and what the justice system is to Canadians.

I do not argue with my colleagues that something is wrong and that a higher percentage of aboriginals are in our prisons and system. I do not argue that it is because of deplorable circumstances and living conditions. However, I do argue that codifying that a judge has to take that into special consideration and treat that person differently than they would treat a non-aboriginal is wrong. This is not the way to go.

When we look at the circumstances, I know the federal government spends a lot more money on different programs, restorative justice programs for the aboriginal people, and that is good. However that does not deal with the inherent problem that causes the higher number of aboriginal people to be in the court system.

We have to break down some of the prejudices that we see in perhaps our policing community that will throw an aboriginal in the drunk tank but take a non-aboriginal home. We have to change that attitude because it is not right. We have to change the attitude of some people who might say that these people do not have any better place to go so we should incarcerate them.

I know of a personal case in the community in which I was raised. A person who did not have a place to live was left alone during the summertime, but come fall he would be incarcerated because some people decided he would at least have a roof over his head and three meals a day.

Those are the wrong reasons for putting a person behind bars, but it was done for compassionate reasons. This guy would end up spending his time locked away during the winter months because people were concerned about his health and well-being, There has to be a better way for society to handle that sort of thing.

We have to deal with those kinds of issues that may skew some of these numbers. This comes down to root causes such as poverty, poor living conditions, poor health conditions or poor education. This does not happen just on reserves. A large community of aboriginals in Canada are not treaty Indians and do not get the protection of the federal government, albeit it is not much protection. That aboriginal community needs something.

Those aboriginals need economic development in their communities so that they can get jobs and have pride in having work and having income. We can restore their sense of pride because they do not have to depend on federal government largesse and, in essence, the federal government treating them like children.

We need to do something substantial, but treating them separately and differently is not the way to do it. The aboriginal community will only become accepted in our society as equals when we as a society start treating them as equals. By always separating them, making special conditions for them and treating them as different, we will never reach a point where we are treating them as equals. I know this from my own experience in the community where we have a large native population. Only when they are treated as equals, will we be able to meet them face to face as equals.

My colleague who presented the amendment in Bill C-416 is only trying to get down to the basic point of the law, which is to treat all Canadians with fairness and with equality.

I rest my case. That is the essence of this issue. There are problems with our aboriginal people, but let us deal with those problems. Let us not get mixed up in corrupting a legal system to deal with problems that do not belong there.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
Full View Permalink

October 21, 2003

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister wrapped up a two day summit with the 21 Pacific rim leaders at the APEC summit. These included the Malaysian prime minister who last week said:

The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews rule the world by proxy.

They get others to fight and die for them.

World leaders from Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain and the European Union condemned his comments. President Bush took the opportunity at the APEC summit to pull him aside and tell him his comments were wrong and divisive.

The Prime Minister has once again failed to voice Canadian values and looked weak and unconcerned. Why did the other world leaders recognize the need to criticize Mahathir's comments?

Canada's Prime Minister should represent Canadian values and have condemned the Malaysian prime minister's statements.

The Prime Minister's legacy has been not to offend any world leader's comments except, of course, those of our traditional allies, the British and the Americans.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
Full View Permalink

October 21, 2003

Ms. Val Meredith (South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, Canadian Alliance)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon to speak on Bill C-49, which is hopefully going to make certain the parameters under which we go into the next federal election.

I would like to support my colleague from North Vancouver who brought his concern about the uncertainty that we were facing with the new boundary redistribution. He tried to find some way to make it easier for all constituencies across the country to deal with this issue.

In my riding, we have a particular situation where for the first time in a long time--more time than we would have liked--Langley will have its own constituency when the election is called. It is hard to organize a brand new riding unless there is some certainty in the process. I would commend my colleague for seeing some of the problems and coming up with suggestions on how to deal with them.

This bill would allow constituency associations to get organized in preparation for the new boundaries after January. Considering that there will probably be a spring election, I think it is imperative that the new boundaries come into effect in order to bring at least some attempt to equalize representation in this country. I do not know if Canadians are aware of the discrepancy that we have in representation.

I wish to criticize Elections Canada for having only numbers based on the 1991 census on its website. It is abhorrent that Canada's election organization is at least 10 years behind the times with its numbers. However, even using those numbers, I want Canadians to know why British Columbians have a concern with their representation in the House of Commons.

I want to share with them that, as of 1991, in Prince Edward Island one member of Parliament represented 32,441 people. And we all know how populations have grown, particularly in my home province of British Columbia. In British Columbia, at that time, one member of Parliament represented 93,773 people.

Considering that our democratic system, and particularly the House of Commons, is based on the concept of one person-one vote, it is hard to convince my constituents that 93,000-plus equals the 32,000-plus in Prince Edward Island.

There is a concern in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario that this discrepancy would not really be looked after by these boundary redistributions and things would not change very much. I am at a loss to explain to my constituents, many of whom are concerned about the growth of this place, that Parliament would not be able to maintain the number of seats and just increase the representation, nor would it be able to reduce the number of seats.

The United States, over the last 90 years, has maintained the number of seats in congress. The population distribution is within half a per cent as far as one congressman representing X number of constituents. So we have this example of this very close representation on the concept of one person-one vote. Then we have Canada with the discrepancy I mentioned, with 32,400 in Prince Edward Island and 93,700 in British Columbia.

It gets worse. Alberta has the greatest discrepancy. It has 97,900-plus people. This, again, is using 1991 figures. It does not take too much to suggest that Alberta and B.C. were probably two of the faster growing provinces over that period of time.

Keeping that in mind, it does bring to light some of the problems that we have with equal representation in the House of Commons.

The bill at least allows for the next election to be fought with an increase in a number of seats in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. My concern is that this is just a drop in the bucket as far as bringing equity into our parliamentary system.

I do not think Canadians are aware that Alberta and British Columbia have been allocated six senators and New Brunswick, which is a considerably smaller province, has ten senators; that the western provinces of Alberta, B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan have 24 senators and the Atlantic provinces have 30 senators.

Some of it is historic. Some of it is covered under the Constitution, but I think it is time that all Canadians put their heads around the issue of equal representation in the House.

I know that there was an amendment in 1985 to our Constitution that froze representation. It said that no province could lose representation regardless of population distribution. How do we think that makes people feel in some of the larger provinces like British Columbia, which is the third largest province in the country, when they know that, forever basically, unless we get our heads around it and change it, they will never have the representation in Parliament that their population justifies?

I must bring forward these issues because they are of great importance to our citizens. However, the proposed legislation does at least allow some semblance of trying to even the playing field, although it falls far short of coming anywhere close to it.

The Bloc members have raised some concerns. I do not really understand what their concerns are. I do not know why they would feel that Canadians should not be more represented based on population. It is not undermining the representation that they have in their province. I fail to see why they would not want to have some certainty in allowing the future to play a part in the next election.

As I mentioned earlier in my comments, this legislation is there just to bring certainty to support constituencies in their effort to organize before April 1 when the bill becomes a done deal.

I want to add my comments to those of other colleagues who are in support of bringing certainty to the process of making it easier for candidates who wish to run in the next election and have the opportunity to organize and be prepared. The legislation would also recognize communities like Langley city and Langley township which have for a great number of years been tag-alongs with other parts of other communities and never having one voice, one person to attend to their needs.

I am sorry I will not be representing Langley city. I have in the past represented part of Langley township and I will miss representing it. I am very happy that in the next election Langley will be able to vote for its own member of Parliament who will be able to give full attention to that one constituency. Therefore, it is very important that the proposed legislation make it through the process and be proclaimed before the next federal election is called.

I wish to thank the House for the opportunity of putting in my two cents' worth and wish that the Bloc members would support the bill because it is important for those parts of Canada which are terribly under-represented and will be for many years.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act
Full View Permalink