The Issues

Many of Canada's most pressing issues intersect in the communities that comprise the riding of Vancouver East. For decades, our riding has persistently endured some of the highest levels of poverty, mental health and addiction rates in an increasing unequal Canada. It has also responded with the most innovative answers anywhere in Canada.

As your MP, these are the issues that I'll be working on for Vancouver East:

An economy for everyone.

Canada's economy has performed miserably under Harper. The most recent numbers show that GDP has shrunk while inequality is increasing. Part of the problem is that this government has focused overwhelmingly on resource extraction and corporatism as the centerpiece of its national economic strategy. Canada's greatest resource is its people, and those people live increasingly in cities.

I will work with colleagues in Ottawa to change Canada's economic priorities, to build a more inclusive economy where healthy communities are the focus. This includes action on the exploitative and ill-conceived Temporary Foreign Worker Program and opposition to the anti-democratic Trans Pacific Partnership, which the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives all support.

The Investor State Dispute Process included in the TPP puts the rights of multinational corporations above Canadian citizens, above our communities and even our own Federal Government. It puts local businesses and entire industries at a disadvantage and, like NAFTA, will result in our tax dollars flowing directly to multinational corporations as they sue our government at will for perceived trade inconveniences. Under NAFTA's Chapter 11 Investor State Dispute Process Canadian taxpayers have lost nearly 200 million dollars to multinational corporations in lawsuits that have cited our environmental regulations as a barrier to corporate profitability. With scores of lawsuits underway the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives warns that we may end up paying as much as six billion dollars in current lawsuits pending alone. Think of that. While schools are closing, while infrastructure is crumbling, while tuition keeps rising, while a housing crisis continues to grow, our government will be potentially giving billions of our tax dollars away under free trade agreement lawsuit battles. The TPP will only make this worse.

I will champion support for emerging green industries that are already creating a range of jobs for all levels of education and skill. Canada's investment in these emerging industries is lagging behind other countries. I will also defend small independent businesses, which make our communities unique, and provide the largest employment base in the country.

Above all else, we must prioritize an inclusive and prosperous economy that does not grow at the expense of the environment - making government a responsible partner once again with Canadian families, communities and the international community we are a part of.

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Undoing the damage Harper has done.

Had the Liberals and NDP been able to put party politics aside and form a coalition government in 2009 when they had the chance Canadians may have been spared the relentless onslaught of reckless public policy and anti-democratic legislation that has plagued our country for several years now. The Harper Government has been an unmitigated disaster in its effort to dismantle and remake Canada in its image. As trials open and conclude more evidence of corruption becomes public knowledge daily, yet the Harper Government persists in acting like an elected dictatorship. Unleashing a parade of unconstitutional bills that have been rammed through a Parliamentary, it has abused its Majority as it treats our democratically elected House of Commons as an inconvenience.

Bills that trample our rights, that remove protection of our water, that give more power to multinational corporations over our communities, that invade our privacy, that are dangerously vague and considered legal "outliers" in terms of international norms have become routine. Our reputation abroad has suffered due to our single minded, hard headed and increasingly belligerent form of international diplomacy, our lack of commitment to respect and renew important treaties we were once bound to, our comical sabre rattling against powers like Russia, our unclear and irresponsible deployment of troops in the Middle East and other things. So much damage to repair, so much work to be done.

As a Green MP my colleagues and I will work with the NDP and the Liberal Party to repeal bills C-51, The Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 C-24, Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, and C-36, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act as they are all unconstitutional, anti-democratic and do nothing to advance the safety and wellbeing of Canadians. They are Orwellian, ideological, and ill conceived pieces of legislation and Canadians deserve better.

An Ottawa that works instead of fights.

The Green Party of Canada has committed itself to working across party lines to put our country back on track and undo the damage Harper has done. All one has to do is watch Question Period on CBC to see the rancorous hyper-partisanship and fighting that has created a stagnant political culture. As the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives jockey for majority status, Canadians grow increasingly tired of seeing politicians, armed with talking points and party rhetoric fight, as our country faces more and more challenges.

While politicians, whether in Victoria or Ottawa, have been "fighting" each other, child poverty has increased, inequality has increased, tuition has increased, incarceration of Indigenous women and men has increased, and carbon emissions have increased. We don't need more fighting, we need an Ottawa that WORKS. That means sending Members of Parliament to our nation's capital who want to work together respectfully and creatively in the interest of all Canadians. Not just their party base.

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The needs of the riding over party politics.

SAMARA Canada recently conducted the largest collection of exit interviews with past MPs in the history of Parliamentary democracy which resulted in the best selling book Tragedy in the Commons. One thing stood out more than anything else in their research - the growing power of the parties, the Party Whips, and of the Prime Minister's Office, which has had the effect of eroding the ability of MPs to represent their constituents and communities.

The Green Party wants MPs to be effective representatives and partners with communities, that's why we don't whip the vote so that MPs have to "tow the party line" when they know it is against the interests of their constituents. Therefore as a Green Party Member of Parliament, I am in the position to put the needs of the communities of Vancouver East first.

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Justice for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.

Hearing the concerns and hopes of First Nations people, Canadians across the country are now joining in the call for a national inquiry into the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. I stand with this call, seeing it as a responsibility on the part of the federal government to investigate the root causes of violence against Indigenous women in Canada. However, in the riding of Vancouver East from where women who were our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues have been taken, we can’t wait for a debate or the results of another inquiry in order to take action – women, families and communities need solutions now.

I want to get to work immediately to secure resources and support for programs and recommendations already identified, not only in previous inquiries and reports, but through the local knowledge of residents as well as social justice, first nations and non-profit organizations working in affected communities.

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National housing and poverty strategies.

The Canadian Government's commitments to housing and poverty have been sorely inadequate for decades under both Liberal and Conservative Governments. Successive years of downloading more and more responsibility to provinces (and subsequently cities) to provide housing solutions has resulted in what has now become recognized as a national housing crisis in Canada's major cities. Further to this, poverty rates have increased in BC - particularly child poverty. As a member of the Party's Shadow Cabinet and Critic for Urban Affairs and Housing I am committed to making housing a poverty the priorities they deserve to be in Ottawa in the interest of our riding and others facing the same challenges. As the Green Party of Canada's Vision Green states:

We can eliminate child poverty in Canada. We must start by recommitting to a vision of Canada as a just society built around a progressive, fair, and compassionate social safety network.

The Green Party of Canada believes it is time to re-visit a major policy initiative − the use of a negative income tax, or Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) for all. The use of a GLI could eliminate poverty and allow social services to concentrate on problems of mental health and addiction.

For more information on the poverty elimination policies Green MPs will work to introduce in Parliament visit here.

The Green Party is committed to increasing government investment in public housing and co-op housing, and I will work closely with other MPs, particularly urban MPs who are facing similar challenges, to bring the federal government back to the table as a meaningful and effective partner on housing.

For more information on the Green Party's commitments to housing visit here.

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First Nations self-determination.

The relationship between the Canadian government and Indigenous peoples is a fundamental issue of our times requiring nothing less than a paradigm shift. In the broadest sense, this means a new way forward rooted in the acknowledgement of centuries of injustice, healing and reparations, and forging new paths of power that respect and uphold leadership and self-determination of the First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples.

With this as the long-term goal, the federal government must move away from its top-down bureaucratic and paternalistic service delivery model. As MP for Vancouver East, I will advocate for place-based solutions informed by the knowledge, perspectives and lived experiences of First Nations communities in addressing some of the most pressing issues such as housing and addiction, barriers to employment, and systemic racism within government service bodies. I will also work to repeal Bills C-51, The Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 and C-36, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act – both of which threaten to further infringe on the rights of Indigenous peoples in particular.

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Urgent action on the climate crisis.

Climate change presents the greatest challenge that humanity has ever faced yet over the past decade under the Harper government, Canada has not only fallen behind on addressing the crisis, our country has been one of the worst offenders based on emission levels, efficiency, renewable energy and climate policy in advancing the effects of climate change. The recent 2015 federal budget made no mention of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, or global warming.

Real leadership is needed now to reverse this dangerous policy trajectory and to take the opportunity for Canada to become a leader in climate change negotiations. The longer we put off the transition to an economy that operates in concert with the natural world and diverse cultures, the longer we delay truly inclusive long-term prosperity. For our riding in particular, this means opposing coal trains that run through our communities, defending our coast from further tanker and pipeline expansion, and instead of attacking them, working to support the non-profits, associations and ENGOs working in East Vancouver on these issues.

For more information on how Green MPs are working to return Canada to an international partner, and leader, on climate change, visit here.

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Federal support for the arts.

I moved to Vancouver because I wanted to work in the performing arts and I enjoyed a music career playing in venues from the old Sugar Refinery and the Brickyard here in town, to New York's Radio City Music Hall and large festivals in Japan. Art and culture are beyond value. It informs who we are, challenges perceptions, pushes boundaries, inspires, confronts, challenges and consoles us. Not only this but the arts are a major economic driver, culture and creativity creates jobs, careers, businesses, non-profits.

The arts matter.

As a Green MP I will work to increase funding to all of Canada’s arts and culture organizations; provide stable base funding for quality Canadian television and radio programming in both official languages to all Canadians, and increase support for community arts programs and facilities across Canada.

For more information on what Green MPs will do to support the arts in Ottawa visit here.

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