Last in Parliament October 2000, as Bloc MP for Laval East (Québec)
Won her last election, in 1997, with 38.46% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Member For Laval East October 18th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, last week, I told voters in Laval East that I will not seek a third mandate at the next election.
I thank the people from my riding for having put their trust in me twice. I believe I carried out my mandate by representing them with dignity, by expressing their concerns and by protecting their interests and those of all Quebecers.
I also wish to pay tribute to my party, my leader and my colleagues. I can assure them of my support in the process that I am sure will lead to Quebec's sovereignty.
My time in this House gave me an opportunity to meet members from all parties and to have fruitful discussions and debates with them.
To you, Mr. Speaker, who tried to keep our debates civil, I say thank you.
To my family, whom I really missed and without whom I would not have been able to pursue this demanding vocation, I say “Faites du feu dans la cheminée, je reviens chez nous”.
World Teachers' Day October 5th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, on this, World Teachers' Day, I wish to pay tribute to those professionals who play a fundamental role in the development of any society.
By transmitting knowledge and values to our young people, they are helping to shape the Quebec of the future and, by providing upgrading for an increasingly large adult clientele, they are contributing to the vigour of our economy.
Because teachers guide and motivate student learning, their commitment and passion for knowledge have marked many of us.
I wish to underscore the government of Quebec's current campaign to promote education, the teaching profession and occupational and technical training. “The spark that lights a lifetime of learning” is the theme of this televised campaign, which was launched on September 21 and will last three years.
The Bloc Quebecois wishes to express its gratitude to teachers, who are on the front lines battling against ignorance and complacency.
Treaties Act June 8th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-214, introduced by my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry, whom I salute, is of great importance to this House, which is why I want to speak to it today.
An act to provide for the participation of the House of Commons when treaties are concluded, this bill would fill the democratic void in Canada, when it comes to negotiating and concluding treaties with our partners from other countries in the world.
I have been taking part in the work of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade for nearly seven years. This is the committee where a few members from all parties study legislation to implement important international treaties to which Canada wishes to become a party.
However, there are significant differences between implementation legislation passed by parliament and what my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry is proposing. In other words, when Canada intends to ratify a treaty, it introduces a bill in the House to implement that treaty in Canada and to give effect to the obligations stemming from that treaty. However, and this is where the problem lies, the public has never heard about that treaty and its contents, not have members of parliament, even.
As we enter the 21st century, it is rather sad to see that international treaties, which will often have an impact on the life of people, cannot be subjected to public scrutiny beforehand. The overall objective of Bill C-214 is to allow for greater transparency so that people and their elected representatives can participate fully and democratically at each stage of the ratification of international treaties Canada intends to negotiate.
Bill C-214 has four specific objectives on which I would like to comment.
The first is to table treaties the government has signed so that the people and their elected representatives can have access to all the information pertaining to that treaty and know its scope.
We all remember the reactions negotiations on the multilateral agreement on investment, or MAI, gave rise to and the general disapproval of the agreement in the civil society and in some countries. We also remember how difficult it was for the former international trade minister to answer questions from opposition members in the House because everything was being done behind closed doors.
With the systematic tabling of all important treaties to be published in the Canada Gazette and in the Canada Treaty Series or posted on the government Internet site, we would avoid this dysfunction of democracy.
Bill C-214 is really an exercise in openness and democratization. The publication and distribution of treaties are the second part in this bill.
Third, Bill C-214 provides that treaties will be submitted to Parliament before ratification. I pointed out before that the members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade are participating in the study of the treaty implementation bill.
We should know that, at that stage, there is absolutely no debate on the content of treaties, their different parts, their impact on the life of Canadians, their institutions, and the relations between citizens and the government that could be affected.
Implementation bills simply make our legislation consistent with our treaty obligations. We are a very long way from a process that would give the treaties greater legitimacy by permitting parliamentarians to vet all of them before their ratification.
This government would have had an extraordinary opportunity to show its open-mindedness, the fact that it is the "best country in the world", had it proposed this bill. We had an example very recently in which parliamentarians could have expressed their opinion on the content of the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court concerning genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. This would have been a great victory for parliamentary democracy.
That said, in a context of globalization, as my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean pointed out so well, in which many decisions affecting us are made at the international level and are beyond our reach, parliamentary democracy obliges MPs to not abdicate any of their responsibilities in this area.
Parliamentary approval of treaties as proposed by Bill C-214 would include a debate of their content and in no way limits the government's manoeuvring room in negotiating and concluding them.
Finally, the fourth objective of the bill on treaties, as the short title provides, is to involve the provinces in the negotiation of treaties that come under their constitutional jurisdiction, thus obliging the federal government to consult them. Bill C-214 also proposes the conclusion of an agreement to formalize this requirement for consultation.
We would therefore have hoped such a bill that attempts to democratize the ratification of treaties and honour the spirit and letter of the Constitution would receive the unanimous support of all parliamentarians. Unfortunately, this was not the case. One after another, the Liberal members speaking on this private members' bill opposed its passage at second reading.
Such an attitude is hard to understand and totally indefensible. How can the Liberal members oppose making the treaty ratification process more transparent and democratic? Why are the Liberal members refusing to honour Canada's Constitution, which nevertheless defines provincial jurisdictions?
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs may have given us part of the answer to explain such behaviour when he commented, on December 1, on the refusal of the U.S. Senate to ratify the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. He said, and I quote:
This show of disunity by our American neighbours is a clear illustration of what happens when sterile party politics find their way into the conduct of a country's foreign affairs.
Could it be that these same sterile party politics, to use the words of the Liberal parliamentary secretary, explain the Liberals partisan refusal to support Bill C-214?
In any case, it is certainly not the arguments put forward by the Liberal members in this House that justify their stubborn refusal. Since the debates began, they have relied on false pretences only to try to justify their opposition.
Allow me to say a few words on the importance of getting the provinces involved in the negotiation and ratification of treaties that fall under their constitutional jurisdiction.
The provisions of Bill C-214 seeks to recognize what is familiarly known in Quebec as the Gérin-Lajoie doctrine. It is, regardless of what Liberal members may say, a simple recognition of the provinces' prerogative at the international level when it comes to areas that fall under their jurisdiction.
Former Quebec minister Paul Gérin-Lajoie popularized that doctrine in the sixties. For the benefit of members opposite, Paul Gérin-Lajoie belongs to the Liberal political family and is not an advocate of Quebec sovereignty. He is, however, an honest man respectful of the fundamental law of the land, the Canadian constitution.
In conclusion, I want to congratulate and thank all the members from the four opposition parties who rose in support of this bill. They all had the insight and the democratic reflex that are so sorely lacking on the other side of the House.
International Circumpolar Community June 7th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to thank the member for Churchill River for presenting to the House a motion which increases our awareness of the various issues concerning Canada's and Quebec's circumpolar community.
He did it through Motion No. 237, which reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of this House, the government should recognize the 55th parallel as the identified Canadian boundary for participation in the international circumpolar community.
Let me explain the substance of this motion. Right now, Canada uses the 60th parallel as the boundary of its circumpolar region. However, most countries bordering on the Arctic use the 55th parallel as the boundary of their circumpolar region. In other words, for them, the international circumpolar region is north of the 55th parallel.
Almost 30 years ago, Louis-Edmond Hamelin, the founding director of the Centre d'études nordiques at Laval University, a unique research centre in Quebec, said, and rightly so:
Definitions of the north mainly depend on the criteria used to assess the situation. Many tests have shown that the boundaries and the main elements of the north are not perceived the same way by those who live there. Some still believe that the north can be confined within specific isolines, such as the arctic circle. As for the federal, provincial and territorial governments, they are using, between Alaska and the Hudson Bay region, the 60th parallel, which has little natural meaning and makes little sense.
Mr. Hamelin then proposed to set a number of criteria to define what would become the “Hamelin line”, which defines the boundaries of the north according to various factors such as climate, population, latitude, precipitation, means of transportation and economic activity. That boundary is generally well below the 60th parallel.
We know that political relations in that area have been deeply affected by the cold war. Since the end of the cold war, co-operation mechanisms have been developed to improve relations between different countries in the circumpolar region and address various issues on a multilateral basis.
I am thinking here about things like the Canadian initiative to create the Arctic Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the strategy to protect the Arctic environment, the Nordic Forum, the Canadian Polar Commission, and the International Arctic Science Committee.
Canadian communities in the northern part of our provinces, beyond the 55th parallel, cannot take part in these great forums where are being discussed issues that are their concern in many ways. Like the hon. member for Churchill River said, we have forgotten people in that part of the Canadian north.
All these communities very often share the same concerns and aspirations. They have the same environmental problems generated by the south. The arctic environment is particularly vulnerable, and many dangers are already present there, like transborder air and water pollutants.
Why could these people, who know their territory so well, not take part in these discussions, offer solutions and make their views known? We have a lot to learn about sustainable development from the traditional knowledge of the people who live in these areas.
Moreover, north of the 55th and 60th parallels, there are important mineral and mining resources, and the economic development of the Arctic is vital to better living conditions of people in these areas. Why could they not be full participants in the dialogue on resource management?
Finally, I would like to speak about international co-operation in science and technology, which started afresh after the end of the cold war. The International Arctic Science Committee, or IASC, is made up of the national scientific organizations of the eight Arctic countries, including Canada, and other countries engaged in research in the Arctic.
It would be unfair, to say the least, if the provinces' northern regions between the 55th and 60th parallels could not be included in the research carried out by these organizations because, territorially speaking, they are not considered part of the circumpolar region.
I do not believe the sponsor of the motion, the member for Churchill River, intends to survey the far north and put markers or stakes every six feet. Nor is it his intention to alter the borders of the provinces through a possible change to the circumpolar territorial limit.
No, the noble principle behind the motion by the member for Churchill River is rather to allow communities living between the 55th and 60th parallels to be full members of the international circumpolar community. If passed, the motion will mean that Canada will finally accept the limit internationally recognized by the northern community.
I also wish to point out that we are debating a motion, not a bill. As I said at the beginning, the great merit of Motion No. 237 is to raise the Canadian and Quebec circumpolar issue, to evaluate the challenges involved, to solve the existing problems and to promote sustainable development in this area.
In conclusion, I want to stress once again the importance of adopting the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Mercier to replace, in the French version of the motion, the term “frontière” by the words “limite territoriale”. At first glance, the nuance may seem subtle, if not insignificant. Yet, there is a clear difference between “frontière” and “limite territoriale”.
Indeed, the French dictionary Le Petit Robert partly defines “frontière” as a “ligne idéale, au tracé arbitraire, généralement jalonnée par des signes conventionnels (bornes, barrières, poteaux, bouées”. The word “limite” seems much more appropriate, since its first meaning is “ligne qui sépare deux terrains ou territoires contigus”.
It is therefore imperative, so as to avoid any confusion, to adopt the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Mercier in the French version of the motion. As she said so appropriately, we completely change the meaning of his motion if we change the border of the provinces. Tis is not at all what the member for Churchill River intended with his motion.
During their study on Canada and the circumpolar region, all the members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade came to realize that the communities living north of the 55th parallel have a unique environment and culture. There can be no sustainable development and economy without their contribution and without the concrete knowledge that these people have of their milieu.
This is why the Bloc Quebecois will support Motion M-237, with the amendment we proposed.
Fight Against Poverty June 6th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance's false outpourings of compassion for the disadvantaged during the meeting of international institutions held in Washington in April did nothing to cover up the fact that the minister is much more interested in passing legislation to protect his fleet of ships than ending poverty in Canada.
What the minister did not say at the meeting, but did do in his last budget, merits our attention: he took $30.5 million out health care, education and social services.
Despite a surplus of $140 billion, the minister did not earmark any funds for social housing or for the thousands of families that must spend more than 50% of their income on accommodation. He continues to exclude six out of ten unemployed workers from benefits in order to better serve his friends.
That is why the Bloc Quebecois is making a solemn pledge to Quebecers living in precarious situations and isolation on the fringes of society to do what it takes to get the federal government to put right the wrongs it has committed.
Quebec's Week Of The Disabled May 30th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, more than a million people have to overcome impediments to their involvement in society everyday.
Yesterday, May 29, in Laval and elsewhere in Quebec, we kicked off Quebec's week of the disabled.
Between June 1 and 7, through discussions, artistic and sporting activities, people with disabilities will have their say. By listening to what they have to say, we will perhaps understand that a disability is not necessarily a handicap. The real handicap is not being able to study, work, enjoy oneself, travel or communicate with others.
By working together to help people with disabilities integrate into society by implementing progressive measures to ensure their right to education, to work and to enjoy recreation, we will all come out ahead, and our society will be more humane, because it will be more just.
I also take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those volunteers who work to improve the living conditions of persons with disabilities—
Petitions May 29th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition signed by a number of Quebecers concerning the Canada Post Corporation Act.
The petitioners are calling upon parliament to revoke section 13(5) of that act, which denies rural route delivery persons the right to collective bargaining.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms stipulates that freedom of association and the freedom to engage in collective bargaining are among every individual's fundamental freedoms. Denying that freedom constitutes a discriminatory practice toward rural workers.
Parliament must therefore revoke section 13(5) as promptly as possible, in order to comply with its own charter and to respect the right to unionize and to engage in collective bargaining.
Human Resources Development May 18th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, yesterday Quebecers learned to their astonishment that the federal government had created, without their knowledge, files which contain a unique, complete, permanent and virtually invisible record on each individual.
If more than four million deceased persons' records are still on file, it is very possible there are major errors in the information held on an individual by this department, which has demonstrated such total inefficiency in managing the grants it gives out.
The Bloc Quebecois is therefore inviting everyone to check the contents of his or her personal file, by filing a written application under the Access to Information Act with to Human Resources Development Canada, Attention Jean Dupont, Place du Portage, Hull.
Sierra Leone May 9th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs assured us that everything will be done to help facilitate the departure of the approximately 40 Canadians and Quebecers in Sierra Leone. He then criticized the lack of resources of UN troops on the ground.
Will the minister tell us what position the Government of Canada intends to take at the security council with respect to the action that will be taken to bring about a lasting peace in Sierra Leone, as well as ensure better logistical support for the blue berets in the region?
Foreign Affairs April 3rd, 2000
All signs are that a referendum will be held on the future of the West Sahara in the near future, under the aegis of the United Nations.
Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs confirm for the House that Canada will ensure that the UN's rule of 50% plus one will apply in this referendum, as it did in the case of East Timor and Eritrea?