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 6 of 158)

February 10, 2009

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

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the excellent intervention by my colleague from Windsor West in the House of Commons today and I support virtually everything he said.

I would like to ask him to explain the Navistar situation a bit more, because I have also raised this matter in my role as defence critic for the New Democratic Party. I do not understand why the government would give such a big contract to build vehicles for the Canadian Forces to Texas rather than to a plant here in Canada, a plant that obviously has done this kind of work in the past and could continue to do this work in the future and supply the Canadian Forces with the needed vehicles.

My colleague talked about the people in Windsor West who are affected by this decision. I want him to know that I have received letters from people right across Canada who are opposed to this decision of the government. I would ask him to explain how we could change this and what his interventions have been with the Conservative government over this issue.

Topic:   Government Orders
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February 10, 2009

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

Madam Speaker, since this is the first opportunity I have had to rise while you have been in the chair, I would like to congratulate you on your appointment and tell you how proud I am as a woman parliamentarian and a fellow British Columbian to see you in the position that you hold today.

I am speaking today on the budget implementation bill. A number of issues have been discussed already in the House around the inadequacies of the budget that the government has put forward. The budget does not adequately address the very desperate needs of Canadians from coast to coast to coast in this critically uncertain economic time. People are losing their jobs and families are very concerned about being able to hold on to their homes.

The government is also doing something else. The government had committed not to bring in unnecessary confidence motions, yet in the budget bill the government is adding items that have nothing to do with the budget. It is bringing in through the back door things that are more ideologically motivated and really have nothing to do with stimulating Canada's economy.

The Conservatives are taking away women's right to pursue pay equity under the Human Rights Act. They are opening up Canadian industry to more foreign ownership. They are almost putting a for sale sign on Air Canada. They are making punitive efforts to go after students who are carrying student loan debt. The budget overall totally fails to protect the vulnerable in our society, to safeguard the jobs of today or to create the green technology jobs needed for tomorrow. It does nothing to protect the vulnerable in society, the people without homes, women and children. There is nothing in it for child care.

Some of the things in the budget implementation bill which have nothing to do with stimulating the economy are the amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act to streamline the approval process. More authority is being given to the minister to allow construction without environmental assessments. Pay equity will no longer go through the Canadian Human Rights Commission. With regard to foreign ownership there are changes to the Investment Canada Act so that only significant investments will be reviewed. A new national security provision has been added, which is rather worrisome. Members will remember the debate we had last year in the House of Commons about RADARSAT-2. I have mentioned the Canada student loan changes.

Collective agreements are being cut. In fact, the government on that side of the House that always talks about crime and community safety is rolling back the increases that were given to the RCMP only in June. If the RCMP cannot trust the Conservative government, I do not know how other Canadians can.

Another issue is employment insurance. The necessary changes have not been made to the two-week waiting period. In my community people are waiting up to eight weeks for their first cheque. As we all know, less than 40% of working Canadians qualify for employment insurance and the government has made no changes to that.

I want to take a moment to talk about the process my community went through in the lead-up to the budget. We were asked by the government side and by Canadians to consult with them about what they wanted in this federal budget.

In my riding we sent out thousands of invitations to British Columbians to participate in a community forum. Large advertisements were placed in the papers and emails were sent. Each of the three city councils and councillors were invited to attend. A non-partisan facilitator who has a lot of experience, Ted Kuntz, was present, along with other facilitators.

On January 3 there was a snowstorm in my community. We do not get snowstorms in New Westminster—Coquitlam very often, but even then the room was full of people from the community, community organizations and interested people from my riding who wanted to have some of the hard discussions around what they would like to see in the federal budget. We broke down into small groups with the facilitators and came back with recommendations. I want to talk about the kinds of things that activists, city councillors and mayors in my community thought should be in the budget.

They noted that from 2005 to 2008, homelessness in the city of New Westminster has risen 53%. They noted that homelessness in the Coquitlam area, in the tri-cities had risen 157% from 2005 to 2008. They noted that average rents in New Westminster had gone up 28% in the last six years alone. All of us from B.C. and from the Vancouver region know how unaffordable ordinary housing is for families. They talked about needing a national affordable housing strategy, and of course we did not see that in the budget. There is a small tax credit for people who want to renovate their cottages and for people who want to put new grass around their homes, but there is no national housing strategy. Canada at one time had a housing strategy that was the envy of the world. Nations came from all over the world to look at how we developed our housing strategy, but no longer. That speaks to why we have so many people on the street today.

My community also raised the issue of transit. They would like to get out of their cars and get around our community and to downtown Vancouver with rapid transit that would be ecologically more sustainable. They talked about the Evergreen transit line which, by the way, is mentioned in the budget as the priority for British Columbia, but all it says in the budget is that it could be funded. There are no hard dollars attached, no real commitment at this point to the Evergreen line.

They talked about the desperate need in my riding for seismic upgrades to our schools. Madam Speaker, you know, because you live in the same province as I do, that we are in a very dangerous earthquake zone, the worst seismic hazard zone in all of Canada, in fact. Fifteen schools in my riding rate high on the need for vital upgrades to make those schools safe for our children in the event of an earthquake.

They raised the issue of public safety. They noted that Canadians had been promised in the 2006 election an additional 2,500 RCMP officers for municipalities across the country. We have not seen that either. My community in Coquitlam has one of the lowest ratios of police officers to population in the entire country. Instead of delivering on this promise, the government is rolling back an agreement on wage increases for the RCMP. I submit that could further demoralize the force and make it even more difficult to recruit the RCMP officers that we need.

Child care was a huge item mentioned because the demand far outstrips the supply in my community. Five hundred and twenty requests for child care placements were denied in the city of New Westminster in 2007 alone. Average full-time child care spaces cost families about $700 a month which is far too high.

They talked about the green economy. They talked about shipbuilding. They talked about salmon. Salmon is almost a cultural icon in British Columbia but is also very much a part of our economy. They also looked for promises on addressing the pine beetle infestation that has affected British Columbia. Douglas College tuition has increased by 78% in the last five years.

It was a terrific consultative process. Out of that process came the “Community Blueprint for the Federal Budget, New Westminster--Coquitlam--Port Moody, Economic Investment Considerations and Priorities”. We have heard over and over on this side of the House how New Democrats have not put any effort into what they wanted to see from the Minister of Finance. This document was put together by the community members, the community leaders and ordinary citizens in my communities of New Westminster, Coquitlam and Port Moody and was delivered to the Minister of Finance in advance of the budget being tabled in the House. However, we did not see our needs reflected in the Conservatives' budget.

Therefore, today I would like to seek unanimous consent to table this document, the community blueprint for the federal budget from New Westminster, Coquitlam and Port Moody, and have it added to the public record. There have been some discussions with different parties, indicating that I would be asking for unanimous consent, and I hope I have that.

Topic:   Government Orders
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February 10, 2009

Ms. Dawn Black

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague from Windsor West has done an incredible amount of work on this whole issue of the Navistar contract being let to the company in Texas, causing people in his own community to lose their jobs.

The defence committee conducted a short study last year on the issues around defence procurement. Many of the witnesses who came to speak to the committee talked about the need to ensure that the jobs are retained in Canada when we let one of these defence contracts.

Further in relation to the Navistar issue, we know the plant is available and the work could be done there to build these trucks for the Canadian Forces. We know it would take only a very small injection of cash to bring that plant up to speed and keep those employees working right now. I think it is in the neighbourhood of $800,000. People cannot even buy a house in Vancouver, where I live, for $800,000. It is a minimal investment that needs to be made so that these jobs can stay in Canada.

Has the government considered what it is going to cost in EI payments? I think it is in the neighbourhood of $14 million in EI payments to the workers losing their jobs in his town with the Navistar contract going to Texas.

I cannot answer why the government does not have any common sense. Canadian jobs should stay in Canada and not be shipped down to Texas.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2009
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February 10, 2009

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

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Etobicoke North on a thoughtful presentation on the needs of Canadian women in our society today. She gave some of the history of the Famous Five women who ensured that women became full citizens of this country. I do not think that story could be repeated too often.

When we look at what is happening in the budget implementation bill, the government is taking away a woman's right to take her pay equity complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It is opening up Canadian industry for foreign ownership. It is even putting a for sale sign on Air Canada. It is punitively going after our students who carry Canada loan guarantees from the government.

This is a budget that totally fails to protect the vulnerable in our society, including the women she spoke of and including children in our society.

In the past, the Prime Minister and the government made a commitment to the House of Commons that they would not include, unnecessarily, legislation for confidence motions but the government has done just that by sliding into a budget these changes to human rights legislation, the rollbacks of the RCMP wages and a number of other very critical issues that impact upon women and families in this society.

Why is my colleague going to support this budget implementation bill when she herself has laid out a number of very critical reasons that it is not worthy of support?

Topic:   Government Orders
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February 5, 2009

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (means of communication for child luring).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reintroduce this bill, which would strengthen the laws that protect our children.

The luring of a child is the first step that is taken by those who would try to exploit, abuse or hurt children. However, as the law now stands, this luring is only a crime if it is carried out by a computer. As we all know, technology has changed. We know that other means of communication are now used by child predators. It is time to modernize our laws to criminalize child luring in all of its forms.

I urge all of my colleagues in the House to support the bill.

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

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
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