Oakville North Burlington Liberal Pam Damoff sets out why she should be re-elected

By Ryan O’Dowd: Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

September 1st, 2021



Oakville North Burlington Liberal incumbent Pam Damoff spoke to the Gazette about her work representing the community, where she hopes to leave her mark on public service.

First elected in 2015 Pam Damoff is asking the people of Oakville North Burlington to send her back to Ottawa.

Damoff is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services. She was open and transparent about the Liberal administration’s shortcomings on boil-water advisories in Indigenous communities, the national conversation residential school discoveries have started, gun control as a public health concern, and the job she’s done so far.

Damoff spoke about lifting long-standing boil water advisories in Indigenous communities, a 2015 Trudeau campaign promise that  is  poised to be missed by years. Damoff was asked what message the Liberal government had for Indigenous people on the failure to lift long-term water boil advisories to reiterate their seriousness and commitment to the project. As with most comments on this topic so far by Liberal representatives, Damoff focuses on what has been accomplished rather than where the Liberals have come up short.

There are still boil water advisories in Indigenous communities.

“We’ve lifted 109 long-term drinking water advisories, right now there are 50 remaining in 31 communities. So, that includes 535 projects, 99 water treatment plants, and 436 upgrades that have been funded. So we’ve invested $4.27 billion to achieve clean drinking water. We prevented 188 short-term drinking water advisories from becoming long-term. So, we’ve done more than any other government in history to end long-term drinking water advisories.

“There is a plan in place for all of the remaining advisories to be lifted. One of the things that we want to ensure is that, first of all, we’re working with the community to the solution that they want for their problems. They are the ones that lift water advisories, not the federal government. So it’s up to the community itself to lift that long-term drink water advisory. And we’ll want to make sure that they also have the tools they need to ensure that when water advisories are lifted they have the people in the community to service, for example, water treatment plants. So it involves training, it involves working with the first nation to ensure that once they have clean drinking water that they can maintain that infrastructure. Every community has a plan in place to end their long-term drinking water advisory and a timeline,” said Damoff.

Damoff’s claim that it is the community who lifts water advisories, not the federal government, begs the question as to why Justin Trudeau would make such a promise in the first place. NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, was recently asked if he would write a blank check to solve boil water advisories and he asked if this question would even be raised if those without clean water lived in Toronto or Vancouver.

Canada has not legislated drinking water as a human right but has recognized a UN declaration on human rights to safe drinking water in 2012. Nine years later and there is a question of how valuable progress can be treated on what has been an abject failure.

Before the dissolving of Parliament, Bill C-230 was in progress to redress environmental racism, which encompasses boil-water advisories among other injustices, it would have been the first of its kind. Damoff said she planned to support the bill. The language of the bill called not only for urgent action against environmental racism but defined timelines and transparency. Due to the election call Bill C-230, which had made some progress, is dead and legislation will have to be re-introduced in the next Parliament.

Canada still needs to do better on Indigenous curriculum Damoff says, but adds the discovery of the mass graves in residential schools has opened the eyes of many Canadians and while the country has to do better going forward she says it has improved and young people are becoming more aware of Indigenous issues. Damoff alluded to reconciliation and discussed what that looks like in practical terms.

National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations addressing members of Parliament from the floor of the House of commons.

“I think listening to indigenous people, and recognizing that they are the first peoples of this country, and the days of the government determining what is best for indigenous people need to be over. We need to work in partnership with them and support them in the decisions they choose to make for their own people. So I think all of us can commit to learning more and being allies to indigenous peoples and supporting them. If you go back to the residential school site, each community just determines what is best for themselves, whether it’s searching for the graves, for example, whether it’s preserving residential school sites, which is what they’re doing at six nations at the former Mohawk Institute. In that situation, the government was able to provide funding to complete the restoration in partnership,” said Damoff.

When asked if all residential schools needed to be searched for mass graves Damoff said that is the decision of Indigenous communities and that she, and the government, will support them.

(Damoff asked the Gazette to include the residential school survivors phone number if we wrote about the topic, that number is: 1-866-925-4419)

Elsewhere, Damoff criticized the Conservative’s characterization of gun restrictions and said it’s time to treat firearms as a matter of public health. Damoff pointed to the gun lobby and member, Burlington Conservative candidate, Emily Brown, failing to take suicide into consideration among other alleged oversights.

“It’s time we start treating firearms as a public health issue and that’s what our government has been doing. 75% of people who died by firearms are dying by suicide. There are women that are terrorized by their partner, who has a firearm, who are often killed. There was a woman in North Burlington, if you recall, a few years ago who was killed by a former partner. The measures that we’ve taken include extended background checks, which will include social media history, a history of domestic violence, and several other measures.

“So, the Conservative’s focus is on guns and gangs, and we rightly need to take action on that so we restored funding that was cut under the Harper government.  We’ve also invested in police services and enhanced programs in the community to try to ensure that community organizations are in place to ensure people aren’t joining gangs in the first place.

Rifles seized by the Oakville detachment of the Regional Police

“So, a multi-pronged approach to preventing crime in the first place. Preventing guns from being smuggled in is an important part of that as is the ban on military-style assault rifles, like the kind used at the attack at École Polytechnique in 1989. One of the guns that we’re banning is the firearm that was used in that shooting, where women were targeted. And if you look up the perpetrator of that crime, he was a law-abiding gun owner. The man who killed people in the mosque in Quebec City had a legal firearm.

“So, you know, the rhetoric from the gun lobby, of which the Conservative candidate in Burlington is a part of, doesn’t take into account the devastating impact of firearms on families when someone uses their weapon to die by suicide. They will often say that well if you ban guns people will just use another method and if you talk to the emergency physicians, and people who deal with these things that are professionals in this area, they will tell you that firearms are deadly there’s no second chance. Most people who attempt suicide. If they’re not successful, they told us that they don’t try it again. So, you know, it’s just not true. The measures we put forward are supported by doctors and many others,” said Damoff.

Reflecting on her work serving the local community Damoff addressed COVID-19 response and support provided for residents, businesses, and not-for-profits. She also highlighted acquiring funding for summer jobs programs and cancer research.

Damoff has been a huge supporter of women who need help. She has a large group of young women who have worked in her Oakville office.

“During the pandemic, we provided support for residents and businesses who needed it. We provided support to not-for-profit organizations, like Halton’s Women’s Place and Goodfellow that help them to still be able to serve the public through an incredibly difficult time. Habitat for Humanity is another that I’m very proud to have in my riding and to support them. Funding for Canada Summer Jobs, when I was elected in 2015, because it was a new riding, the funding for Canada Summer Jobs that first year was only about $240,000 this past year it’s 2.5 million. We advocated strongly to get more funding for organizations and owners willing to support young people in their jobs. It’s a program that I’m proud of.

“In 2019 I was able to procure $115 million for cancer research and the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network. The federal government collaborates with the Terry Fox Research Institute and provides matching funding, the government’s contributing $150 million to that. And that’s a roadmap to cure cancer which is quite exciting. In the 2021 budget, there was $30 million for childhood cancer research and that was something that I’ve worked with families and survivors to, to provide funding for the number one killer of children,” said Damoff.

The implementation of a national affordable childcare program is where Damoff wants to leave her mark on public office if re-elected. Damoff wants to see through the fight against COVID-19 and combat the growing cost of living concerns in the community that is seeing housing become untenable.

Damoff, centre, has in the past taken part in the New Year’s Day Polar Dip – part of a climate change initiative.

“I really want to see implement a national affordable childcare program, Ontario is one province where we don’t have an agreement. But we know that childcare that costs $10 a day is not only good for the family but it’s good for the economy. And it will allow women to fully participate in the economy, and it will increase our GDP. So it’s good for everyone. And something I feel strongly about is affordable housing that was announced in our platform. I hear from a lot of young people who want to leave the community because they can’t afford to live here. So that’s something and then also finishing the fight against COVID-19 We’re not done.


“I know that climate change is top of mind for residents who I speak to, and one of the reasons I got into politics. So I think climate change needs to be top of mind, as does gun control, and childcare,” said Damoff.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 comments to Oakville North Burlington Liberal Pam Damoff sets out why she should be re-elected

  • Charles Zach

    In her August 2021 newsletter, Pam Damoff stated that she will continue to “take strong action on gun control”. FACT: Empirical evidence concludes that stricter gun controls hoisted on innocent and law abiding Canadian firearms owners is not reducing violent crime. In fact urban violent crime has actually increased on the Liberals watch. Canadians have real public safety problems. Pam has the wrong priorities. ‍♂️

    • Phillip Wooster

      Charles, I note also that Pam failed to include the Liberal proposal to reduce sentences for gun crime–probably just an oversight.

      I also found it curious that Pam is so focused on a candidate in another riding–perhaps Karina Gould can tell us what she thinks.