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  • Her favourite word is colleague.

NDP MP for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 44.60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Red Tape Reduction Act October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my colleague did an incredible job summarizing the facts and the reality. I had the opportunity to attend the États généraux entrepreneurials de la Rive-Sud. Business owners, including entrepreneurs, consultants and the organizations that govern them, cannot believe that in this computer age, small business owners must go from one organization to another with the same piece of paper filled out 10 times with the same information: the business's name, address and number.

Does my colleague think this government will ever realize that there are some basic things to be done in this computer age?

International Development October 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the World Health Organization has urgently asked Canada to send 300,000 face shields to protect those working on the ground to contain the Ebola virus.

So far, only 128,000 of those face shields have been sent to West Africa because the Conservative government is unable to find an aircraft to transport the equipment.

How can the Conservatives justify not being able to find an airplane to transport this equipment and save lives?

Citizenship Week October 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be talking about Citizenship Week today. I would like to congratulate the new Canadians in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert once again. In September, 74 people in Saint-Hubert and Saint-Bruno were granted Canadian citizenship. Canada has built a reputation as a country of broad cultural diversity, and it has maintained that reputation on the international stage.

Despite our obvious wealth, there are still too many people waiting for Canadian citizenship. Processing delays for sponsorship and family reunification applications are still too often preventing people like you and me from starting a life in Canada. The government needs to know that by working together we can enhance Canada's reputation as a country that welcomes newcomers. Let us build our history together.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very relevant question.

I have experienced the same thing as him. For me, it was a privilege. For him, it must have been difficult to live in a war zone. However, I repeat that air strikes are not going to solve the problem. There will always be civilians who are affected by such actions, since these terrorist groups have already left their bases and blended into the population.

We are saying no to the atrocities and the attacks against minorities, women and others. We want to use other means to help these people. The local authorities never asked for fighter jets.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform my colleague that I should have said “the member for Outremont” when referring to our leader. I am so passionate about this topic that I made a mistake. I am sorry.

I do not know whether my colleague was asking a question or making a comment. I said in my speech that this radical Islamist group was committing atrocities. I condemn everything it is doing. The NDP does not want to fight violence with violence. There are other ways of doing things. If my colleague is concerned about minorities, women, children and seniors, that is what I spoke about. In military jargon, these people are referred to as collateral damage. Unfortunately, they are civilians. We do not believe that air strikes are the right way to resolve this conflict.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to say that I will sharing my time with the hon. member for Trois-Rivières.

I am very pleased to rise today to participate in the debate on the motion concerning a military contribution to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. After weeks of silence, the Conservative government finally decided to reveal its plan. Yes, it agreed to a debate in the House of Commons, but it has already made up its mind, unfortunately. The government wants Canada to engage in war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and it has decided to do just that.

We know that the Islamic State is responsible for violent atrocities against the peoples of Iraq and Syria. It represents a genuine humanitarian and security threat for civilians. Their day-to-day lives are controlled by fear and threats because of the horrors they have witnessed and experienced. The Islamic State has taken advantage of how powerless the people feel and is spreading its oppression over an ever-expanding area, plunging the region into a genuine humanitarian crisis.

I of course believe that we should be providing assistance to local populations. However, the Conservative government plans to join the military mission against ISIL in Iraq, using air strikes. Military measures are likely to have very little impact, because the terrorists, having been warned that this will be a short mission, could simply go into hiding and wait it out, coming out again after most of the aerial bombings are over. Sources on the ground have already said that the jihadists have left the official bases and are temporarily hiding amongst the civilian population. Air strikes will therefore not have the desired effect.

As a doctor myself, I worked for the Red Crescent during the first Persian Gulf war. I witnessed first-hand the ravages of the war led by George Bush Sr., a war that was supposed to be like a surgical procedure. It was an operation based primarily on air strikes targeting the Saddam Hussein government. I was on the ground and I can assure this House that that mission was not a success. The reality was quite different. The air strikes affected seniors, women and children. In military jargon, this is known as collateral damage. The losses were primarily civilian. There is one image I will never forget: a daycare centre that was bombed by the allies. There was nothing left but the charred remains of infants, babies and children.

From the beginning, the government has been saying that we have to be good citizens and support this motion. It forgot to mention that there will be dozens if not hundreds of civilian lives lost in collateral damage, as is always the case with air strikes. Has the government planned for that obvious reality? I do not think so. It seems to care more about pleasing the United States by sending fighter jets than it does about the requests of local authorities and local populations. I would remind the House that Kurdish and Iraqi authorities have not asked for these fighter jets to be sent in.

The Prime Minister wants to take part in the conflict not under the UN, but rather as part of a coalition put together by the United States for the sole purpose of legitimizing its attacks.

More western intervention in the region will not stop the tragedy in Iraq and Syria. The tragedy will stop when we help the people of Iraq and Syria build the political institutions and security forces they need to counter these threats themselves.

The Conservative government seems to have forgotten that terrorism is not just a military undertaking. It is also a fearsome propaganda tool that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant fighters have learned to use in a depraved but savvy way by filming hostage executions and issuing diatribes against western mobilization.

Canada must provide immediate aid to local populations. They are in desperate need of any humanitarian aid we can offer, be it building refugee camps, fighting sexual abuse, protecting minorities or hunting down alleged war criminals.

Yesterday, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said that we had to support this mission because that is the Canadian way. The Canadian way is not to rush headlong into a quagmire in Iraq; it is to help local people, establish peace and keep people safe.

We played a leadership role in creating the UN peacekeepers. We should continue to adhere to those principles and remain leaders in conflict resolution, specifically in the conflict we are talking about today.

Personally, I believe that before the government makes a decision, it should consult Parliament and hold a vote. It should also provide the necessary information and answer questions about the Canadian Armed Forces' participation in this conflict. However, the government has already sent members of the forces without consulting anyone or holding a vote beforehand.

This evening we must vote on a six-month deployment of 600 troops. The debate is once again being cut short by the Conservative government, which keeps us in the dark and continues to muzzle us. Its objective is to prevent debate that would force the government to reveal all the parameters of this mission, including the financial terms. The government cuts public services, but manages to find money for a war. How much will this war cost Canadians? If the government was truly concerned about Canadians, it would have invested this money where the people need it most. It would invest in health, where there have been many cuts this year once again. It would invest in programs for veterans and for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, who saw nine offices being closed. Finally, it would invest in job creation.

For all these reasons, I oppose the government's motion and I invite my colleagues to vote for the amendment proposed by our leader, the Hon. Thomas Mulcair.

Instruction to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women (violence against women) September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am quite honoured to rise here today to speak to Motion No. M-504 by my colleague from Sault Ste. Marie. As a feminist and member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I care deeply about the issue of preventing violence against women.

Before I get to the main part of my speech, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the excellent work being done in my riding. Last Friday I met with the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale de Montarville, the Carrefour pour elle, the Centre des femmes de Longueuil, L'Envol, the Conseil central de la Montérégie CSN and Com'Femme.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend them for the work they do in our community. Thanks to organizations like these, we can improve the social and economic situations of many women. I spoke with representatives from these organizations at length, and they told me about some of the difficulties they are up against. Their concerns confirm my own.

On the one hand, the government has not clearly identified its priorities when it comes to the status of women, and on the other hand, it is not providing these organizations with the resources to meet the needs of target communities. With the cuts to Status of Women Canada, subsidies have become very limited. In order to receive those subsidies, the organizations have to group themselves together by themes. This does not correspond to the reality on the ground. An organization fighting violence against women in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert does not face the same reality as an organization in Greenfield Park or Sault Ste. Marie. This is a real problem. How can these organizations carry out their mission with these kinds of administrative roadblocks getting in the way?

The motion before us this evening reads as follows:

That the Standing Committee on the Status of Women be instructed to undertake a study on the subject of best practices in education and social programs in Canada that prevent violence against women, and report its findings to the House within one year of the study's initiation.

The danger I see in this wording is that we will once again be studying best practices funded by the government. It is too easy to highlight practices that are already in place.

However, I will support the motion so that we can have a detailed study in committee because today, there are still too many women who are assaulted and abused and remain silent, hidden in the shadows. Every day, we are in the presence of victims without knowing it. The silence in which many of them seek refuge should be seen as an alarm signal for the government. In order to correct the situation, we must go further and attack the core of the problem. If we really want to make changes and provide the help they need, we should first look at the underlying causes that prevent these women from reporting the assaults and violence to which they are subjected. Reported cases are too few in relation to actual cases. In order to do as much as we can to eliminate violence against women, we must take tangible measures in order, hopefully, to restore their freedom to these women.

While Motion No. M-504 is well-intentioned, when we realize how widespread violence is in Canada, we feel that it does not go far enough. Half of all Canadian women have been victims of at least one incident of sexual or physical violence after age 16, and the proportion has not changed over the last 40 years.

However, the Conservative government claims to have taken real action to address violence against women. I do not know what figures the Conservative government is looking at, but when one woman in two has reportedly been physically or sexually assaulted after age 16, I do not believe the government can say that the measures taken are effective.

The same Conservative government that congratulates itself on programs to combat violence against women refuses to develop a national action plan, whereas the members of Canadian civil society and service providers to women who have suffered violence are almost unanimous in stating that a national action plan is an urgent necessity. For example, the Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses and some 30 partners are currently working to develop a model for a comprehensive national action plan to deal with the problem. Why would the government not follow the example set by this kind of initiative in driving the development of a national plan?

It is not enough to move a motion and study the issue in committee. There has to be cohesive follow-up to these good intentions. The government has to listen to proposals from the members of civil society who appear before the committee, and it has to implement them. That is not what it is currently doing, though.

In 2006, the government changed the women’s program so that in providing grants to organizations, Status of Women Canada could no longer fund advocacy, lobbying or general research into women’s rights. In addition to that restriction, when grants are awarded to organizations that serve women, it is on a short-term basis. I would also remind the members opposite that 12 of the 16 Status of Women Canada regional offices have been closed.

If the government is concerned about this issue, it should begin by putting an end to the cuts that are preventing local and national organizations from working on behalf of women in our communities.

Today, efforts to address violence against women are hampered by financial insecurity and a lack of resources to provide an effective response to women’s needs. The issue of violence against women is much too important to be used for electoral purposes.

The Conservative government has always refused to support the NDP motion protecting women’s rights. The member for Churchill, with whom I serve on the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, moved Motion No. M-444 in May 2013. It asked the government to consult civil society in order to develop a comprehensive, multisectoral national action plan to address violence against women that would include prevention and education strategies.

It is easy to move motions a year before a general election, but what would be remarkable would be for the government to respond to the motion by my colleague, the member for Churchill. She proposed a practical plan for the federal government. It called for co-operation with the provinces, the territories and civil society as well as the first nations, Métis and Inuit in order to eradicate violence against women.

We must maintain the commitment of the women who struggled before us. We must work to break the cycle of violence against women. We must strive to guarantee economic justice for women. Lastly, we must ensure that women’s rights are respected and reinforced.

I am proud to be a member of a party that fights for gender equality in Canada. Women make up 40% of the New Democratic Party caucus, and we are taking practical steps to honour our commitment to equality.

We are committed to building a stronger Canada in which equality is not just a dream, but a reality.

Canada Post September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, elected officials in the greater Longueuil community are angry about the Conservatives' intransigence and arrogance regarding Canada Post. The people of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, especially seniors and people with disabilities, are very concerned about the arrival of community mailboxes.

How can the government support the elimination of home mail delivery and continue to ignore the unanimous voice of elected officials in the greater Longueuil area?

Business of Supply September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my Liberal colleague's speech. I would like things to be clear in the house. Her party plundered $57 billion from the employment insurance fund, which is funded by employer and employee contributions. The Conservatives legitimized this practice in order to balance their budget.

Once again the Liberal Party does not seem to be embarrassed, and it is presenting a misguided plan. The employment insurance fund ran a deficit for a number of years because the Liberal government siphoned off $57 billion. Why is it acceptable to have annual surpluses when 63% of unemployed workers are not receiving benefits?

Canada Post September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, for months, we have been asking the government to reconsider its position on the Canada Post job cuts and the elimination of the home delivery service. To date, we have collected more than 1,000 signatures, in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert alone, against the elimination of this service. The government is turning a deaf ear.

It is now the municipal officials' turn to mobilize. I congratulate the municipal officials from Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville for taking a firm and clear stand by passing a resolution asking Canada Post to abandon its plan to unilaterally impose the termination of the home delivery service.

What is the government waiting for to finally listen to Canadians and local elected officials too?