LONGFIELD, The Hon. Judi, P.C.

Personal Data

Whitby--Oshawa (Ontario)
Birth Date
April 23, 1947
executive assistant, teacher

Parliamentary Career

June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
  Whitby--Ajax (Ontario)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour (September 1, 1999 - September 12, 2001)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
  Whitby--Ajax (Ontario)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour (September 1, 1999 - September 12, 2001)
June 28, 2004 - November 29, 2005
  Whitby--Oshawa (Ontario)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Housing (July 20, 2004 - February 5, 2006)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 39)

May 4, 2005

Hon. Judi Longfield (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Housing, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I move:

That the debate do now adjourn.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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May 4, 2005

Hon. Judi Longfield (Whitby—Oshawa, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table 13 petitions today. The petitioners call upon the government to protect the current definition of marriage.

My constituents and constituents across the country want to preserve the current definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
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May 2, 2005

Hon. Judi Longfield (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Housing, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to debate the concurrence of the 21st report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. For anyone who has been trying to follow the debate, they may have lost what the actual reason is for the concurrence motion.

In November a very sad thing happened. Members of Parliament were denied their parliamentary right, their privilege, to enter this precinct. This is something that should never happen in a Canadian Parliament. It happened because the President of the United States had come to address Parliament and as a result of what was going on in the world over the last number of years, obviously security was very heightened.

Something of that magnitude requires more than just the work of the parliamentary precinct. They do a phenomenal job of protecting us and guaranteeing our rights of access and freedom in this place. A number of additional security forces had to be called in. There were members from the RCMP, the OPP, and police forces from across Ontario here.

Members of Parliament from all sides were denied the right to come to this place, and I will talk about what we do in this place and why it is so important that we should be able to enter. As members of Parliament we have a parliamentary ring on a finger or on a lapel. Others carry other forms of identification that just did not seem to be good enough. The whip of the Bloc Québécois pointed out that some of those police officers, when he and others were trying to put their case forward to indicate that they had the right to be here were actually not conversant in French. Some of my colleagues on the other side found that it was very difficult for them to communicate with these English speaking forces.

One of the things that the report actually suggested was the importance that all members of Parliament be able to communicate in both official languages and in the one of their choice. In this case, that was not possible. So not only did the report indicate that everything must be done to ensure that all members of Parliament have the right to be in this place or in committee, to carry on the work of the nation, we also have to ensure they are able to do it in both official languages and be able to communicate. I have not heard this in the debate today, so I was a little disappointed in that.

I am disappointed in the notion that we should not be concurring in a report. There was unanimous support in the committee. I am not certain that all members of Parliament realize the magnitude of this breach of our privilege. It is important and certainly now every member of Parliament will understand what happened on that day in November when members from all sides were not able to access Parliament Hill.

At the same time, the demonstrators were able to get free access. Members of the media were able to get access, but somehow members of Parliament, people who have been elected by their constituents to do the business of the nation, were not able to access Parliament.

We are in a minority government situation and arguably, carrying on the business of the nation becomes a little more difficult. There was a suggestion that it is inappropriate, when things are logjammed and we are having some difficulty, that other parties might want to help and assist in getting some of these things done. The whip of one of the opposition parties suggested to the member for Timmins—James Bay that somehow the Liberals in that riding would be outraged.

I would say to him that my mother, who is a resident and a constituent of the hon. member's, was very happy that we were working together. She has spent her entire life in education, defending the downtrodden, working for seniors and working for children. She knows that this budget which provides an additional $31 million for literacy is extremely important. She knows what happens when people cannot find affordable day care. She understands that we need additional funding in post-secondary education. She agrees with members of the New Democratic Party, with the member for Timmins--James Bay who represents her, that we need to work together. That is what minority government is about. It is about working together.

I also know that the mother of the Minister of Labour and Housing would be extremely proud of the coalition because she also lives in the constituency of the member for Timmins--James Bay. She knows how hard her son has been working to come up money for affordable housing. In northern areas there is a large aboriginal community. These are things that we need to be working together on. They are not just Liberal values. They are also the values of the New Democratic Party, working for aboriginal communities and housing.

When members of Parliament are stopped at the edge of Parliament Hill, when they are not able to move onto the Hill, and come into committee or into the House, their privileges, and I would suggest that the rights of all Canadians, are being infringed upon because we cannot get into this place and talk about those things that are extremely important.

The member for Acadie--Bathurst was also talking about being proud. My father was born in Bathurst, also a Liberal, and would be pleased today that the Liberals and the NDP could get together on issues that are important to the people on the east coast and in northern Ontario. That is what minority government is about, working together, putting a little water in the wine, each giving a little, but we are working for the betterment of all Canadians. It is extremely important and it is important that members of Parliament have access to this place.

It is important that we have access to this place. When we are denied access to this place, we should be able to explain our situation in both languages. That did not happen on the day of November 30. We were not able to use the language that we felt most comfortable in to convey to the people who were trying to deny us access that we were members of Parliament, that we had been elected to this place. Yes, we were elected in a minority situation but we were elected to this place to do the work of the nation.

I would suggest that it is important that we talk about what happened that day, that we look at the recommendations that the committee made to ensure that this does not happen again. We do not agree with everything that goes on here. I would suggest that I do not agree with everything that my party puts forward. From time to time I have voted against legislation that my party has put forward and I suspect that I will probably do that again. I know that on Bill C-38 I have a fundamental difference with my party on something I think is extremely important, but I deserve the right to have free access to this place, to come in, and to convey my views on that.

From time to time I hear things from the other side that I agree with, quite frankly. I agree that we should be spending more money on health. I agree that we should be spending more money on seniors. I agree that we should be spending more money on the environment. Good heavens, people from coast to coast to coast understand how important it is that we have clean air and clean water. We understand how important it is to put money into the environment, to protect the environment. Some of these things we cannot get back if we lose. We need to do that and it is extremely important, but again I come back to the reason that we are here.

We are talking about concurrence in a report that is trying to defend the basic privileges of members of the House of Commons, the right to have free, unlimited and unrestricted access to this place. On November 30, the day when there were a lot of extra people around here, people who were there to protect not only us but the President of the United States and other dignitaries, in their overzealousness to protect, actually infringed upon some of our rights and kept some of us out. This report deals with that and any future time when we have a number of people here to protect us. That is important. We want to be protected and we need to be protected.

I do not think there was any malice. I do not think they wanted to keep us out. They just did not have the appropriate procedures. They were not given a copy of our little green card with our picture signed by the Speaker. They did not have it. They had a number of pieces of identification that they were referring to, but they did not have that one. That should not happen. I guess it was oversight. People just automatically assumed.

It is really quite amazing. When I first came here in 1997, I was absolutely amazed. Every place I walked people referred to me by my first name. They welcomed me because the people who are here to serve this place, whether they be the clerks, the couriers, absolutely everyone who works here knows that it is important to recognize each and every one of us. They have and it is remarkable.

I am always amazed when they call the roll during a vote, that someone who has never done it before can go through every member of Parliament and almost always get it correct. Riding names are constantly changing, but they do it and they do it in an absolutely incredible fashion. Therefore we have taken a lot of this for granted.

The people who drive the buses and the people who serve us know who we are. They nod. Some of us from time to time forget to wear our parliamentary pins and we become quite incensed if by accident, when we are in the other place, they do not recognize us because we have come to expect that they all know who we are.

For the most part they do, but on occasions such as what happened on November 30, 2004 there were people from outside and they did not recognize all of us. They did not recognize the dean of the House. I cannot imagine anyone who has ever turned on a television who would not recognize that tall bearded gentleman, but they did not. When he produced his ID, it was not sufficient. It was not part of what the security forces were given as an appropriate credential to enter the House. Therefore, he was upset. The whip for the Bloc was extremely upset and he should be because it is his right to be here.

It is important that we look at the report and the recommendations that we made. We must ensure that in the future all the i s are dotted and all the t s are crossed, that whatever force or whatever group of people who are here understand and appreciate, that along with the others who have security passes and other things, that members of Parliament have a right to be in this place.

We even have a right I would suggest to make outlandish statements, and we do it every day, but that is our right. We have the right to make unholy alliances. I think Canadians will judge what the Bloc and the Conservatives are doing. I think Canadians understand that and I do not have to go into great detail. They understand and they will cast their vote accordingly.

Canadians will understand what made the New Democratic Party look at what we were facing in a minority situation and understand that this was an opportunity to get a number of things done. They understand that. Canadians want the budget passed. They want things in the budget that they think are good for them. They want a new deal for communities.

Yesterday the regional chair of the municipality of Durham wrote a very impassioned letter to the local paper indicating that it was extremely important that the budget be passed. It was extremely important because communities from coast to coast to coast are anticipating the money from the gas tax. They are anticipating the new deal because they have infrastructure programs and things that they need to do. If another party realizes that we must get together to do that, I think we are all working for Canadians.

Again, because I understand relevancy, Madam Speaker, we cannot do it if we cannot get into this place, if somehow we are stopped at the edge of Parliament Hill. We cannot do it if we cannot get to committee. In this case, some were at committee outside this precinct and could not get back in.

In this particular case there was no vote, but there may be a hotly debated issue. It could happen. If we do not get the procedure right, then at some point or another we could all find that our basic rights and privileges have been violated.

In this case perhaps there was not a vote or a hotly debated issue, but it could have happened. If we do not get the procedure right, then we all at some point or another could find that our basic rights and privileges are violated. It is extremely important that we resolve this. We have had the debate. We are talking about it. We have made it clear to the public what happened. I see this today as an opportunity to explain to Canadians, Canadians who sent us here to Ottawa to do our jobs.

I go back to my home riding of Whitby—Oshawa and my constituents are incredibly patient and understanding. They understand a minority situation. I used to be home a lot more. I used to get home on Fridays. I used to have the occasional Monday back in the riding when I could see constituents. I cannot any longer. I have duties as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Housing which keep me here in Ottawa. We are in a minority situation and it is important that we be here. My constituents sent me here to do a job. They sent me here to fight on their behalf. They sent me here knowing that I would stand in this place, or that I would work in committee or that I would take the opportunity to talk to ministers to get things done.

Because I could enter this place freely, I was able to talk to the Minister of Transport and explain to him how extremely important it was to get money for a marina in my riding. I am pleased to say that we got $1.5 million for cleanup. That is good environmental policy, but I could not do that if I could not get in here.

My constituents understand that it is important to talk to the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Natural Resources on issues like money for the auto industry, $200 million for the Beacon project. We do not get that done by standing on the outskirts of Parliament Hill. We can only do that if we can get on to the ground, be in this chamber and be able to talk about things with our ministers and to have exchanges with other members of Parliament.

I am not in the House a great deal. I spend a lot of time in committee and I think that is where good work is done.

I was chair of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. As chair, I very seldom got actively involved in the debate. However, when we were looking at things that needed to be done, I had an opportunity to suggest we do a study on literacy.

Literacy and the lack of it, the low literacy skills across the country, is very frightening. Because I could enter this place, because I could get to committee, we were able to have number of people come and make presentations. I am extremely proud of the members on all sides, the Conservatives, the Bloc and the NDP. We got together and we tabled a report on literacy. We were further rewarded in the budget this year when the finance minister announced another $31 million for the national literacy secretariat. I know members on all sides support that. I know they want to see that passed. I am certain there are some things they do not like in the budget, but I think if they were truly anxious to make this place work, they could find the things that are important.

I cannot believe for an instant that Conservative members in some of the ridings they represent do not have seniors or do not want more money for them. I cannot believe they do not have children in their ridings who need day care, or post-secondary students who require additional help, or cities and municipalities that need infrastructure dollars and want a fair share of the gas tax. However, to hear those members talk about the budget and how disgusting it is, I just do not understand. They have small businesses. Do they not want tax breaks for small businesses? Small business is the engine that drives our country.Talking about jobs, do they not want the money that we are putting into training?

There are a lot of people out there who want jobs and who need additional funds to help them train. I find it very strange. I find it strange that the Bloc Québécois members do not understand that there are a lot of things in the budget that their constituents want. They want more money for seniors. Their seniors are no different from the seniors in any other part of the country. They need this assistance. They need affordable housing. They want it and they expect their members to come to this place to work together.

Canadians elected a minority government because they thought it was time to rebalance. They have a minority government, but they did not expect a minority government to have one or two parties constantly looking at the polls and deciding that maybe it was time to pull the plug. They expected us to roll up our sleeves and work together

When people are asked about whether they want an election, a lot will say they never want an election. However, when they are asked if they want an election now, they say that they want one after Gomery tables his report. Canadians are fair, they are reasonable and they want to hear all the facts.

If members do not have access to this place, we cannot have debate and we cannot put the issues on the table. I think it is extremely important that we pass the concurrence motion and that we put plans in place to ensure that all members of Parliament, no matter on which side they sit, have free access to this place, unimpeded and unrestricted.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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May 2, 2005

Hon. Judi Longfield

Madam Speaker, I take some offence to the member's suggestion that we bought off another party. There were some pretty intense negotiations between the leader of this party and the leader of the New Democratic Party. Both parties wanted to continue to work for seniors and for the environment.

The member opposite said that he will vote against the budget because it does not do enough for workers. I would suggest that as a result of some of his negotiations with this party we made some concessions with respect to the throne speech. Somehow the negotiations we made with respect to the throne speech are correct and appropriate but negotiations we may have made with another party are inappropriate because they do not seem to meet his priorities. It does not serve any useful purpose for him to think that his ideas are better than anothers and negotiating will only be done if it serves his purpose.

We are here today talking about members' rights and privileges. We need to get back to this topic because we keep losing sight of it. We are talking about the obstruction of a member's rights and privileges on November 30 when a foreign head of state was in this building. We had perhaps not given the issue of members' identity enough forethought.

People often stop me on the street and ask me about the ring I wear or the lapel pin I wear. They are impressed by the fact that this little symbol worn on the lapel or on the finger or sometimes around the neck signifies to our security staff that we are members of Parliament. After I leave this place I keep this right and privilege. All former members of Parliament and members of the other place get to keep our identification and this lets our security staff know that we have a right to be here and that we have earned that right by getting elected to this place.

Every member in this place has the same right, whether they be the Prime Minister, a cabinet minister, a backbencher on the government side or a member of the opposition. There is no seniority in these little symbols. They are identification and it needs to be understood and recognized when we come to this place.

This debate is about concurring in a report tabled by the procedure and House affairs committee, a committee that is set up to look after these things. I would suggest that most members have absolutely no idea what happens in the procedure and House affairs committee even though it deals with a number of things. It is not a sexy committee nor is it a committee that makes the front pages of newspapers but it does very important work. Part of its work involved making recommendations concerning the protection of members' rights and privileges. Tomorrow the committee will be dealing with the alleged violation of a member's rights and privileges with respect to information going to the member's riding.

The procedure and House affairs committee also looks at conflict of interest involving members of Parliament. It is working with the Ethics Commissioner to ensure the form we all fill out is user friendly and accomplishes what government said it should accomplish. This work does not bring headlines but it is important work.

It is important to draw the House's attention and Canadians' attention to the kind of work that is being done in committees.

The procedure and House affairs committee is also studying electoral reform. Members from all sides of the House have been talking and witnesses have spoken to us about the possibility of changing the way members are elected to Parliament.

We may be looking at consulting with Canadians. I think that was one of the amendments that came out of a recent throne speech. We may be looking at electoral reform and ways of consulting Canadians.

It comes down to the fact that if we do not have access to this place we will be unable to do that good work.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
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February 21, 2005

Hon. Judi Longfield (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Housing, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the member would know that the minister is currently looking at a number of flexibilities, and he will be happy to report on the outcome of his discussions when he returns.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Housing
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