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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

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will talk about content, since it is worth talking about.

Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent said that more than 400 veterans in Canada have severe disabilities and are not eligible for the Canadian Forces pension plan.

The budget implementation bill would compensate veterans who received benefits between May 29, 2012, and September 30, 2012.

Why does the bill not mention the amounts deducted between 2006 and 2012?

I know that the member's riding is very close to a military base.

Canada Post April 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my constituents do not understand the Conservatives' decision.

They allowed Canada Post to cut thousands of jobs, impose a 58% tax on stamps and put an end to home delivery. The Conservatives are letting Canada Post executives pocket $20 million while they cut services to the public.

Do the Conservatives think that this is a good strategy to revitalize Canada Post?

Canada Post April 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the week, Canadians have been forced to pay $1 to mail a standard letter.

In addition to endorsing this staggering 58% increase, the Conservatives have agreed to let Canada Post stop door-to-door mail service, reduce hours at rural outlets and cut thousands of good jobs that support local economies. Here we have the Conservatives at their best: radical price increases and radical service cuts.

This unilateral decision was made without consulting the communities that will be most affected by it, it was announced very quietly, and it has made Canada the only G8 country that no longer offers home mail delivery.

Never before have so many people of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles spoken out against draconian cuts to their essential services. I am one of the thousands of people in my community who find these decisions repugnant. The NDP will keep fighting so that these people can have a decent, viable public postal system.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the situation is serious. Our families are carrying too much debt, and the Conservatives laugh and heckle during question period when we talk about the decline in the manufacturing industry or when we talk about the middle class.

Could my colleague tell us whether we should not be taking care of the middle class and the manufacturing industry in this country in order to create jobs?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, cancelling the hiring tax credit is bad for businesses. Not putting a cap on credit card interest rates is also bad for retail businesses. Furthermore, the government's excise tax increases in recent budgets are bad for our businesses, too.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we know how research and development can aid a society's development, as well as the development of small, medium and large businesses.

We see this in very specific sectors like health and education. It is very important for chemical discoveries and the development of new projects.

Our universities must be better subsidized when it comes to research and development. Education is under provincial jurisdiction and the government looks after higher education, but investments are crucial to research and development. We cannot abandon the regions as the Conservative government is doing.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

People are not happy that the government is hiding all kinds of sub-measures in a massive bill, so that they do not know what the effects will be. The Conservatives do not give the public enough information, so the public cannot take action.

For example, SMEs will lose the hiring credit, but they will have no way of knowing because the government will not make a big announcement about that. The government is taking away that subsidy, but has hidden that in a bill.

This massive bill eliminates all kinds of measures that helped SMEs, local and regional development, and Canadian society.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for York South—Weston.

I will use my time today to express my general disagreement with yet another omnibus bill, now the trademark of the Conservatives, unfortunately. I will talk specifically about some provisions in the bill that are particularly worrisome and disappointing to the people in my riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

First of all, I would like to loudly and clearly denounce much of the content of the bill and the process used by the Conservatives to make radical legislative changes at lightning speed. Not only does the budget implementation bill contain no real job creation measures, but Parliament cannot do its job, given that the Conservatives introduce omnibus bills and use gag orders to excess.

How can Canadians expect us to do our jobs thoroughly and be able to measure up to their expectations if the government is constantly cutting off the debates we are supposed to have here in the House? Why has the Conservative government imposed gag orders 60 times since the beginning of this Parliament, if not to muzzle parliamentarians and Canadians, in addition to setting the sad record of having the highest number of gag orders in Canadian history? How can we look our constituents in the eye when they know that it is impossible to thoroughly examine the changes that the government is imposing because it is burying them in bills that are more than 350 pages long and amend over 500 sections and dozens of acts?

Once again, the bill is about to drastically change the face of Canadian legislation, and it deserves to be studied carefully by parliamentarians, together with civil society and experts who must be consulted. This is something the government seems to ignore every time it introduces a new bill. In addition to omnibus bills, the second trademark of the Conservatives seems to be imposing unilateral decisions, without consulting anyone other than perhaps Kijiji when the time comes to justify their misguided economic policies.

That said, in recent weeks, I have spent a lot of time in my riding taking the pulse of the constituents and finding out what their real concerns are. The first of their real concerns is that the government continues to impose radical austerity measures, simply because the Conservatives want to balance the budget on the backs of taxpayers and the provinces just in time for the next election. My constituents know very well that all the cuts and the austerity measures are basically all about electioneering and do nothing to improve our standard of living in the long run.

The constituents of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles are also concerned about employment, health and the economy. In my constituency, many small businesses are struggling to grow, be profitable and contribute to the economy of our community. However, the government is not renewing the hiring tax credit for small business that the NDP first proposed in 2011. Moreover, the Conservatives still have no strategy to propose that will help the 1.3 million Canadians who are currently without jobs.

The government can blow its own horn about being a champion of economic policies, but the figures are clear. We have 6.3 unemployed Canadians for each available job; in the Atlantic provinces, that figure rises to 10 for each available job.

My constituents want good, full-time jobs with salaries that can provide a decent standard of living. However, from what I hear in the street, they are having more and more difficulty making ends meet. They often have to turn to credit so that they can make it to the end of the month, because their salaries are stagnant, their costs are going up, and they are not able to provide themselves with a cushion in case of unforeseen expenses.

The debt-to-GDP ratio has climbed by almost 10% since 1999. During that time, credit card and car loan debt has doubled, and debt held in lines of credit has quadrupled. The government just twiddles its thumbs, though. Why has it not adopted the measures proposed by the NDP, designed to make life more affordable and to reduce household debt by means of solid regulations that will put a stop to the abusive practices of banks, money lenders and credit card companies?

The budget implementation bill also unfortunately highlights the fact that the Conservatives have grasped nothing and have learned no lessons from the tragic accident in Lac-Mégantic last summer. Whole families were shattered forever and the community had to endure one of the worst railway disasters that Canada has ever seen.

Instead of enhancing rail safety measures, the government is now allowing many rail safety regulations to be changed or repealed without public notice. This might involve engineering standards, employee training, hours of work, maintenance or performance.

Worse yet, cabinet decisions on changing safety standards for the transportation of dangerous goods will be kept secret from now on. This might involve the classification of dangerous goods, inspector skills and training, or rules on importing and exporting such goods.

From now on, with these changes, the public will not be informed when the Conservatives water down safety measures, and experts will not be able to provide their opinion to the department before the changes come into effect.

This change is rather ironic considering that at the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, of which I am a member, we are currently studying ways of improving access to government data in order to promote economic development. In my opinion, this is a rather underhanded way of applying a double standard on data sharing. From what I understand, the government wants more transparency when that suits its agenda, but it is tightening its grip on information that should be available to the public. After all, it is their safety we are talking about.

Still with the dangerous goods registry, this bill makes substantial amendments to the Hazardous Products Act, in order to harmonize it with American laws and apply only some of the new international standards in the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. I think consumers and workers have the right to know what is in the products that they use every day. I cannot imagine why the government is refusing to apply the strictest international standards.

All these changes are in Bill C-31, and they do not meet the needs of the people of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. My constituents are also exasperated with other measures being introduced by this government, such as the electoral “deform”, which is grossly undermining our democracy, the senseless cuts to Canada Post, and the Conservatives' inaction on important issues such as the Quebec Bridge, the environment, and the tax havens where well-off Canadians are hiding their money.

Let us not forget the $36 billion in cuts to health, which will have a huge impact on the quality of the services provided to individuals and our seniors.

All these things combined are causing the public to become disillusioned with our role as parliamentarians and with our institutions. Unfortunately, this is creating cynicism that only the Conservatives can take pride in fuelling.

Before I finish my speech, I would like to repeat what the NDP thinks makes sense in terms of public policy and, at the same time, what should be in a budget when Canada is facing the kind of economic, environmental and social challenges we are facing today. Unfortunately, our recommendations fell on deaf ears during the budget consultations.

In the NDP, we believe that the government needs to invest in innovation, economic development and high-quality jobs for the middle class. It needs to work with the private sector to help Canadian businesses grow, create jobs and increase their exports. It should continue to use the current job creation credit for SMEs.

Canada should also work with the provinces to develop a comprehensive strategy to tackle unemployment and recurring structural underemployment among young people and strengthen sectors where labour shortages are anticipated.

In terms of energy, Canada would benefit from doing a study on ways to increase value-added domestic production. The government would also do well to reintroduce the eco-energy retrofit--homes program, which was very popular and helped homeowners save money while protecting the environment.

With respect to workers at the end of their career, the retirement age needs to be brought back to 65. People who have worked hard all their lives need to be given access to old age security benefits and the guaranteed income supplement so that they can have a decent retirement.

Once again, is the government going to listen to Canadians and agree to what they are asking for? I wonder. In the meantime, I can only fiercely oppose this bill, which offers nothing that will help the people of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles prosper and improve their situation.

Business of Supply March 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am rising because I would like to speak to the member and congratulate her on her excellent speech about something that I witnessed not too long ago.

The incident in question involved seniors living in a residence where there was a polling station. They went to that polling station. In Quebec, health cards do not have an address or photograph on them. A gentleman came to the polling station with his health card. He did not have a driver's licence; he was living in a senior's residence and his licence had been taken away. That was the case for a number of people living in the residence where I was observing the proceedings. He was unable to vote. He was sent to get the documents on the list. He came back but the document he had was not accepted. He returned a second time and said that he would not come back again and that his decision was final.

Voter turnout is already very low. The government is going to require more from people when voter identification cards make things so simple. Voters are used to them. Voter cards were sent to people based on census data. People were identified and received their card. There is perhaps a certain margin of error—there always is—but voters were used to this process and were used to going to the polling station with the card, which was valid and accepted. Right now, there is confusion at the polling stations as to who will be allowed to vote and who will not, and the government is not giving polling station workers additional training.

Does the member believe that even fewer people will turn out to vote in the next election?

Business of Supply March 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk to the members about my personal experience with the last by-elections.

Not everyone in Quebec has to have a photo on their health card. People living in a senior's residence no longer have a driver's licence and there is no photo on their health card. People were sent back to their apartments once or twice so that they would have a piece of ID to show at the polling station.

The new process creates a lot of confusion. As the Chief Electoral Officer said, we need more time to prepare the people who will be working at the polling stations so that they do not exclude poor people or someone belonging to a minority group. The number of people who vote is dropping right now, not increasing.

I would like to hear the member's opinion on that.