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NDP MP for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles (Québec)
Won her last election, in 2011, with 45.00% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Privilege March 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, since I came to the House in 2011, the government has consistently increased sentences for offenders and introduced minimum sentences. Offenders are sorry for what they did. A driver who hits an elderly woman is sorry for what he did. Thieves are sorry. However, what is done is done. We cannot erase the past.
Things were done in this case, and I think that credibility, ethics and truth are on the line here. People must have confidence in their MP.
Can the member tell us what she thinks about this system, where there is one set of rules for MPs who apologize and another set of rules for the public, who keep seeing longer prison sentences?
Privilege March 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back to a specific point in the hon. member’s excellent speech, namely the third factor to consider.
Of the three factors that had to be proven, the third is especially interesting. It must be established that the member had an intention, which has been done. If I say that a member is a liar, the Speaker will invoke the Standing Orders, I will apologize and he will accept my apology.
In this case, there is something more. In order to employ such a stratagem, there had to be intent. He did not say that the cards came back and that people had used them. He said it took place in apartment buildings, places where there are groups of people. There were therefore several cards. It had to be premeditated. Deep down, he intended to act as he did.
In the member’s view, did he or did he not do so intentionally?
Privilege March 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this is not a small matter; it is about values and ethics.
Like many of my colleagues, when I got into politics, I assumed that, here in the House, we would solve real issues, state the truth and be truthful.
In the matter before us, the member made a misleading statement. He said things that were inaccurate and he will probably try to say that he did not intend to mislead the House. However, who is the House? We are the House.
If we feel as though he misled us, it is no trivial matter. Apologizing and going on to something else is not trivial. This is about elections and voter cards that were used illegally to increase the number of votes for one party. This means that the vote itself must be called into question.
It is important to be consistent and to be truthful in what we do.
Privilege March 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, coincidentally, this happened just as Bill C-23 was being introduced.
I would like to think that this is not the case, but we cannot help but conclude that there must be a link between what the member said and the goal of wanting to fast track this bill through committee.
Privilege March 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
As a parliamentarian, I want to remind all my colleagues, and myself, that we have a responsibility to Canadians, a responsibility to the House of Commons itself, which establishes the procedures and practices of the House, and a responsibility to our colleagues who are elected members who vote on bills.
This question of privilege reminds us that, although we are parliamentarians and have privileges such as freedom of speech, we cannot use those privileges any way we like and deliberately mislead the House and our constituents by making statements we know to be incorrect in order to achieve a personal or partisan objective. What is more, in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, on page 115, it states:
Misleading a Minister or a Member has also been considered a form of obstruction and thus a prima facie breach of privilege.
We also have a duty to earn the trust of our constituents and the voters who vote for us. The practice of making false or contradictory statements in the House needs to end. It can serve only to fuel the public's cynicism about politicians and the disengagement the public has from its civic duty, which is to vote. It is already extremely difficult to get voters to the polling stations.
It is very important to me that we understand that it is in our best interest to faithfully apply the rules and procedures, as set by the House of Commons. We can have a bias based on our political stripes—I understand that—but we must show that the public's interest is our primary concern. We must do so objectively and with integrity, which means illustrating our points of view and the benefits of the bills we introduce without using smoke and mirrors. That is how we will win the respect not only of our constituents, but also of our parliamentary colleagues.
This is what the member for Mississauga—Streetsville said on February 6:
I have actually witnessed other people picking up the voter cards, going to the campaign office of whatever candidate they support and handing out these voter cards to other individuals, who then walk into voting stations with friends who vouch for them with no ID.
That is quite absurd because, as we know, when we go to the polling station the card in question is not enough.
When the member for Mississauga—Streetsville said “I have actually witnessed”, he was saying that he had witnessed criminal offences being committed. That is a very serious statement that should be taken very seriously because it refers to election fraud.
The member for Mississauga—Streetsville told Parliament that he had witnessed acts prohibited by Canadian law, acts that constitute election fraud according to Elections Canada. It is not a simple statement or mere speculation or even a misinterpretation. He said that he saw it with his own eyes. He said that twice, on two separate occasions in the House, to his colleagues. The first time, he asked the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification a question, and the second time, he addressed his colleague from York South—Weston.
On February 24, the member for Mississauga—Streetsville once again rose in the House to make a new and completely contradictory statement, saying that he had made a statement that was not accurate:
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to debate that took place on February 6 in this House regarding the fair elections act.
I made a statement in the House during the debate that is not accurate. I just want to reflect the fact that I have not personally witnessed individuals retrieving voter notification cards from the garbage cans or from the mailbox areas of apartment buildings. I have not personally witnessed that activity and want the record to properly show that.
That means that what he reported was not the truth.
Here is what I am wondering about: Why did the member for Mississauga—Streetsville change his version of the facts? Why did the member for Mississauga—Streetsville wait 18 days before giving us the new version of the facts?
Is it because Elections Canada contacted the member for Mississauga—Streetsville in the interim? Since this is clearly a case of electoral fraud, a very serious accusation, will Elections Canada investigate?
I think it is unacceptable that those members voted on Bill C-23, which is currently being rushed through committee, on the basis of false statements by one of our colleagues. Some colleagues decided how to vote on Bill C-23 on the basis of unfounded and inaccurate statements. That is a serious blow to democracy and to the integrity of parliamentarians.
Erskine May is even more clear when it comes to a member later admitting that statements he made were false. Page 111 of Parliamentary Practice, 22nd edition, informs us that the Commons may treat the making of a deliberately misleading statement as a contempt. It also states that, in 1963, the House resolved that in making a personal statement which contained words which he later admitted not to be true, a former member had been guilty of grave contempt.
We have a duty as parliamentarians to build a relationship of trust with our constituents. I represent the people of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles in the House of Commons. My constituents have the right to be able to count on me and the right to know what we are doing here. They also have the right to know where we stand on bills and why we are voting for or against them.
If tomorrow, someone from my riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles asks me why I did not support Bill C-23, based on what this person heard or read in the speech the member for Mississauga—Streetsville made in the House on February 6, 2014, I would think that my constituent had been misled. That is very serious, which is why it is important to act with integrity. All parliamentarians need to understand their duty and responsibility towards the public, towards voters and towards our mandate as parliamentarians.
The statements we make in the House are not limited to the House. They have repercussions on people all across Canada.
When I think about the contradictory statement made by the member for Mississauga—Streetsville, I realize that the vote on Bill C-23, which is currently being fast-tracked through committee, will be based on erroneous information. The debate on Bill C-23 was not fair and honest. What is worse, it is tainted by an unfounded accusation for the sole purpose of getting the bill passed.
Is that our mandate as parliamentarians? I do not think so. Is that how we should be introducing bills that will affect the lives of millions of Canadians?
I highly doubt it. I want to talk more about our responsibility as parliamentarians. We spend many hours working on laws that affect the lives of Canadian families. If we do not follow the rules that are in place, what impact will these laws have on the daily lives of millions of Canadians?
The member for Mississauga—Streetsville should be questioned by the appropriate committee about what he did, so that we can determine where those allegations came from and why he used them to support Bill C-23.
The Budget February 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, we know that the Liberals and the Conservatives diverted $57 billion from the fund. A few years ago, in 2012, there was a surplus of $3.1 billion. That money came from employer and employee contributions to employment insurance. Now we are talking about a $6 billion surplus. Once again, all of this money goes into the consolidated revenue fund. Honestly, that is what I call stealing. The government did it by restricting access to employment insurance. The fewer unemployed workers they have knocking on the door asking for benefits, the lower the unemployment rate is. The lower the unemployment rate in a particular region, the fewer weeks of benefits people can claim. It is all connected, and that is why the surplus is going up.
The government did not raise taxes, but it is collecting money from a specific segment of the population and funnelling that money into the consolidated revenue fund. Employers and employees are being fleeced.
The Budget February 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the member’s comment is completely accurate. You would think the budget came right out of a play by Ionesco.
In western Canada, grain needs to be moved and delivered, but the budget mentions pipelines, gas, the oil sands and natural gas, and ignores a huge part of the economy.
If the Conservatives were really taking care of the business economy, they would help these types of infrastructure. Instead, they are interfering in something that does not concern them and setting up an agency to provide funding for skills training, even though that is under provincial jurisdiction.
This is the government's area of jurisdiction, and its budget must provide for the possibility of taking action in these types of situations. That is what taxes are for.
The Budget February 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my colleagues from the Standing Committee on Finance, the members for Parkdale—High Park and Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, for their constructive contribution to the deliberations we as members need to engage in today on the 2014 budget and its impacts.
Yesterday, on February 12, I heard the member for Kitchener—Conestoga say that high school students understood the budget better than members of the opposition. The members opposite should perhaps stop talking nonsense. The people of my riding are fed up with seeing their buying power melt like snow in the sunshine while the government fails to take any real action to kick-start the country's economy.
The first question that must be asked is who will be the new victims of this budget? The answer is public service retirees. The government is going to take $1.5 billion from the health care plan for retired public servants, and then require them to pay higher premiums. For example, based on retirees from my own riding who called and wrote to me, $42.76 per month will now being withheld, rather than the previous amount of $10.34 per month in June 2013. This is a difference of $32.42 per month or $389 per year, an increase of 413.5%. Why are the Conservatives attacking public service retirees?
The unemployed will also be victims of this budget. There are now 300,000 more unemployed workers than there were before the 2008 recession. This budget, however, is not making any significant investments to create good jobs for the middle class. The NDP has monitored this file closely.
In fact, our leader has said that employment insurance is the most important Canadian labour market program because it provides benefits to replace the income of those who are unemployed to help them and their families, and because it provides Canadians with training and other labour market support measures to help them find a new job. He also mentioned that in view of the fact that Canada's economy and labour market were in constant turmoil, the government needed to ensure that the program would be there for Canadians when they needed it. According to him, the government must also ensure that the program helps to create jobs and economic growth.
Since the changes announced in the 2012 budget, fewer people are now eligible for employment insurance benefits. More of them are now forced to accept low paying jobs and many are redirected to provincial social programs.
Under the Conservatives, access to employment insurance benefits has reached its lowest level ever with fewer than four out of every 10 unemployed workers eligible for benefits. The changes are also harmful to seasonal industries like tourism, fisheries, and the forest and agricultural sectors. Canadian workers and employers pay employment insurance premiums, and the government makes profits off their backs.
Workforce training will also be affected by the budget because it changes the workforce training rules. The federal government announced that the subsidies for workforce training will be in place on April 1, with or without the agreement of the provinces, even though workforce training is a provincial jurisdiction under an agreement that goes back to the previous century. Clearly they want to impose a new way of doing things. From now on, businesses rather than job seekers will receive support. How can the provinces be forced to be accountable when this is their jurisdiction?
A Canadian employment subsidy will be introduced in 2014. Who will be eligible? Businesses that have a training plan for unemployed and underemployed Canadians, to enable them to find a job or a better job. Every Canadian will be eligible for this subsidy, on one condition: there has to be a partnership with an employer. In other words, they need to find their own job.
In only a few sentences many changes have been introduced. At the moment, the provinces train workers who then re-enter the workforce. The process takes somewhat longer when the prospective worker needs orientation or training before returning to the workforce.
For example, if a 55-year-old worker loses his job after a company shuts down, a new job can be found for him if it is one that is in demand, for example a plumber. However, if the worker decides to shift to a field where demand is low, he will have to be trained for another job. The process will therefore take somewhat longer.
After 10 budgets, the Minister of Finance should make an effort to acquire a better understanding of the term "provincial jurisdiction".
The Minister of Finance complained that the government paid out:
...billions of dollars--not millions, billions--to the provinces to provide skills training to workers for available jobs. Some provinces do not even report the results. We don’t even know what they do with the money; so we’re going to do better than that, we will get results.
How tactless. I would like to take the liberty of telling the minister about what the provinces are doing in terms of skills training.
First of all, the whole process involves employers, management, unions and the education sector. They are all working toward integrating potential workers into the labour force. Targets are set for integrating those with disabilities, young people, immigrants and women. Older workers who must find a job and business services are also included.
If the minister really wants to know what is happening in terms of skills training in the provinces, I would strongly advise him to consult the Internet and use Google to look up “Emploi Quebec” or “Employment Ontario”. No private enterprise is as transparent. He can find regional action plans, guidelines and strategies used to meet the challenges and achieve results.
The victims of this budget are families. I would like to bring up the issue of income splitting for families with dependents under the age of 18. Keep in mind that it was one of the Conservatives’ promises in the last election.
The term “income splitting” describes the ability of spouses to divide their total taxable family income for tax purposes in order to reduce their total family income tax liability. Because of the progressive nature of the Canadian tax system, the higher-income spouse may be taxed at a higher marginal tax rate than the lower-income spouse. By splitting their total taxable income, some couples would benefit from a lower effective tax rate.
For instance, the average federal tax savings for two-parent families with children, earning less than $30,000 annually, and with one parent earning from 0% to 10% of family income, would total $120. On the other hand, if the family earns $90,000 or more, the couple would save $3,276.
In Canada, the gap between rich and poor is widening. If income splitting were to help narrow this gap, we might support it, but in reality, the rich will benefit more than the poor. The C.D. Howe Institute has stated that 85% of households would gain nothing from an income-splitting provision.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I have rarely seen a budget that is as dull as this one and that provides no measures to help families and workers make the two ends meet.
The Budget February 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the government is going after $1.5 billion in savings by asking retired public servants to pay for their pension plan and health plan premiums. These people are already retired. Some will be asked to pay 400% more than what they were paying before. I would like to know what the hon. member thinks of this measure.
Northwest Territories Devolution Act February 11th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Timmins—James Bay, who is always concerned about the socio-economic situation of first nations.
I would like him to explain why it is so important to us in the NDP and others to hand over powers to the Northwest Territories and to have it take charge of its own development.