Personal Data

New Democratic Party
New Westminster--Coquitlam (British Columbia)
Birth Date
April 1, 1943
executive assistant

Parliamentary Career

November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
  New Westminster--Burnaby (British Columbia)
  • N.D.P. Deputy Caucus Chair (January 1, 1990 - January 1, 1991)
January 23, 2006 - September 7, 2008
  New Westminster--Coquitlam (British Columbia)
October 14, 2008 - April 13, 2009
  New Westminster--Coquitlam (British Columbia)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 158)

March 26, 2009

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the New Westminster Pesticide Awareness Coalition has been working tirelessly to bring the harmful effects of pesticides to the attention of our community and to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides.

Medical and scientific research on the negative health effects of pesticides has shown that they have been explicitly linked to a number of types of cancer, along with birth defects and various neurological illnesses. These toxins are highly dangerous for our children and pose considerable harm to the environment. In fact, my son Stuart was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma after working on golf courses as a summer job.

It is critical that we reassess our continued use of these harmful chemicals. There are viable, less harmful alternatives. It is time for the government to follow the example of municipal governments across the country and support legislative measures to restrict the use of cosmetic pesticides for the safety of all Canadians and all Canadian children.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Pesticides
Full View Permalink

March 26, 2009

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-349, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (body armour).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a bill to amend the Criminal Code in relation to body armour.

The bill would make it an additional offence to use body armour during the commission or attempted commission of an indictable offence. It would also ban those convicted of violent crimes from possessing body armour.

The recent spate of gang violence in the Lower Mainland of B.C., with at least 31 shootings and 15 deaths in the past two months alone, has revealed chilling examples of notorious criminals decked out in body armour, wielding guns and ready to do battle. These are not petty thugs. They are armed and dangerous gangsters who have no regard for their own lives, the lives of police or of innocent bystanders.

I have two sons who are police officers and they have told me of the disturbing situation in which beat cops are put, facing gangsters equipped with body armour that makes them almost invulnerable to patrol officers and with armour piercing weapons that can penetrate regular issue police armour.

The bill is modest in scope and only addresses one but one important small component of the problem. Our communities are crying out for a comprehensive, anti-gang strategy. The government has promised a comprehensive strategy but so far it has failed to deliver.

I call on everyone in the House to support the bill to protect the lives of police officers and the lives of innocent bystanders.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
Full View Permalink

March 26, 2009

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Vancouver East.

New Democrats are supporting this bill but we are asking the government to do more to provide a comprehensive federal anti-gang strategy. Although we are supporting this bill, we are saying very clearly that this bill alone is not a strategy and it is not enough to combat gangs.

A comprehensive strategy must include, not only tougher sentences, but more police officers on the street, improved witness protection, tougher laws to tackle the proceeds of crime, modernizing our laws that cover surveillance and evidence-gathering and a comprehensive plan for prevention to ensure that our kids are not attracted to the gang culture and that they stay away from joining gangs in the first place.

In the last two months alone, there have been at least 31 shootings in the metro Vancouver region and 15 people have been killed. These are not petty thugs. These are notorious criminals, decked out in body armour and emboldened with a sense of invincibility, who are wielding guns and ready to do battle.

We need strong and effective action from all three levels of government: federal, provincial and municipal. Stiffer penalties for those involved in gangs are certainly appropriate but it is not a sufficient response to this problem.

The metro Vancouver region has one of the lowest police to population ratios in the country, but what have the Conservatives done as an answer to this desperate need for investment in policing services? They have torn up contracts with the RCMP, have rolled back their wages and have made worse an already difficult recruitment and retention situation.

The Conservative approach to gang violence has been to latch on to the most simplistic, headline grabbing component of the action we need, which is tougher sentences.

New Democrats have already said that we support tougher sentences for gang violence but tougher sentences will not mean much if we do not get convictions. Tougher sentences will be ineffective unless they are part of a comprehensive strategy because tough sentences alone do very little to divert kids away from gangs. They need to be coupled with diversionary programs and activities, things that give young people alternatives to the gang lifestyle.

A comprehensive anti-gang strategy requires substantial investment to bring hope to communities that are hurting. These efforts need to be well thought out, carefully implemented and monitored to see what is working and what is not. Diverting kids from gangs is far from an exact science. This is what is lacking from the Conservative government that says that it is tough on crime but is either unwilling or unable to come up with the creative kinds of ideas that are necessary to solve the problem.

One place that we can look to for an example of a program to divert youth away from gangs is in the U.S. The program is called GREAT, which stands for gang resistance education and training. This program sees police officers visit elementary and middle school classrooms, teaching life skills to help kids avoid delinquent behaviour and violence, and encouraging the building of positive relationships between law enforcement, parents, children and the whole community. It has proven to be effective. It has proven to give students a more negative view of gangs and a more positive view of law enforcement. This program operates right across the country, thanks to funding from the U.S. federal government. It sees programs like this as an investment in our children and in healthy and safe communities.

I urge the government to make a similar substantial investment in our children in programs to keep them out of gangs. Tougher sentences are meaningless when our police departments and our prosecutors do not have the resources needed to ensure that guilty gang members are brought to justice and convicted. At both the federal and provincial levels, we have seen governments that profess to be tough on crime and howl with indignation when they see criminals walk free through the gaping cracks in our criminal justice system, and yet they have systematically cut our police and our prosecutors.

Again I draw attention to the Conservative government shredding a negotiated contract with the RCMP. This is but one example. It is an absolute disgrace and particularly shameful coming from a government that claims to be tough on crime when we need to be going in exactly the opposite direction. We need greater investments in putting police officers on the ground because they are the front line in stopping gang violence.

In my own riding, the city of Coquitlam has one of the lowest police to population ratios in the entire country. The Conservative Party made promises in the 2004 and 2006 elections to ensure there would be 2,500 more police officers in municipal departments, a still unfulfilled promise.

A model for the integrated approach to policing and prosecution that is needed to tackle gang violence can be found in the city of Toronto's anti-guns and gangs task force. The task force has a dedicated staff of police officers, crown prosecutors, victim and witness support workers, probation and parole officers. The task force is headquartered in a state of the art operations centre, which allows for the highly coordinated investigations and prosecutions needed to combat gang violence.

If the government were really serious about tackling gang violence, it would provide funding to assist provincial governments in setting up similar task forces in major cities across the country.

Another area where the police need the support of the federal government is to pass legislation to modernize the laws around surveillance and wiretapping. These laws were written before the Internet age and wireless technology, which has changed society. Criminal organizations are operating and conducting business with all of this technology, cell phones, BlackBerries and online, and they know the police are unable to combat that. Criminals are taking advantage of the most cutting edge technology and we must give our justice system the same kinds of legislative tools to combat them.

I want to touch briefly on the proceeds of crime. I share the anger of citizens in my communities who have been terrorized by gang violence, only to see gang members profiteering freely from dangerous and violent activities. Police and prosecutors need to be able to go after the luxury cars and the million dollar homes that upper echelon gang members flaunt in our communities. Otherwise, how can we truly tell our children that crime does not pay?

We propose that the proceeds of crime recovered by government should be reinvested in communities that have been victimized by gang violence. I can think of nothing more appropriate than auctioning off the possessions of gangsters to fund school programs or community centres.

I know all members of the House want to see an end to this kind of violence. I join with my New Democrat colleagues in calling upon the Conservative government to move further and faster to put forward a comprehensive strategy to end gang violence. Every day that goes by that the government does not have a strategy to end gang violence is another day wasted. That is a shameful reality. Communities are looking to the government for hope and action but so far they have been sadly disappointed.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
Full View Permalink

March 25, 2009

Ms. Dawn Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympic Games present an opportunity for us to showcase Canada to the world. We must not squander this by allowing a shocking case of gender discrimination to occur at taxpayer funded facilities.

Ski jumping is the only winter Olympic event that does not include a competition for women, but it is not too late to change this. Even though Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that prohibits gender discrimination, the female ski jumpers have been forced to turn to the courts for a chance to compete.

I urge my hon. colleagues to stand up for Canadian laws and Canadian values and to support my motion to include a ski jumping event for women in the games.

As a member of Parliament from British Columbia, I am embarrassed that such a public display of discrimination against women may take place in Vancouver next year. Let us not go down in infamy as the host of the last Olympic games in history to discriminate against women.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympic Games
Full View Permalink

March 24, 2009

Ms. Dawn Black

And before.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Full View Permalink