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Crucial Fact

  • 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

Criminal Code June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to contribute to the debate on Bill C-590, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (blood alcohol content).

Today, in Canada, it is a crime to drive with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. It is a crime under paragraph 253(1)(b) of the Criminal Code. Offenders can be sentenced to 18 months to five years in prison, depending on the nature of the offence.

Bill C-590 seeks to amend section 255 of the Criminal Code to establish more severe penalties for offences committed under section 253. The result of the amendment would be that when the offender has a blood alcohol content that exceeds 160 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or double the legal limit, the offender would be found guilty of an indictable offence.

In 2009, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights examined the issue of drunk driving. Witnesses who appeared before the committee made it clear that impaired driving, which can be caused by alcohol, remains the number one criminal cause of death in Canada. The Canadian Police Association indicated that, despite our collective best efforts and intentions, it is apparent that the problem of impaired driving is worsening in Canada and we are losing ground in our efforts to eliminate the problem.

In light of this, the approach of the member for Prince Albert is a step in the right direction. We will support this bill so that it can be studied in more detail, since we must ensure that these new measures will be effective in putting an end to impaired driving, a problem that costs far too many Canadians their lives each year. Every day in this country, on average, four people die and 175 others are injured in collisions that are directly related to drug- or alcohol-impaired driving.

Other figures back up their statements. Canadian police reported more than 90,000 incidents of impaired driving in Canada in 2011, which is approximately 3,000 more than in 2010. The rate of 260 incidents per 100,000 people was 2% higher than in 2010, the fourth increase in the last five years. Faced with these facts, one cannot help but want to do something to decrease these alarming numbers.

Before we rush into anything, we need to ask the right questions. Will this bill help to eliminate this problem? Is the bill consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Canada's criminal law? Bill C-590, which was introduced by the member for Prince Albert, seeks to make our roads safer by imposing minimum sentences.

I am worried that these minimum sentences are not the way to go. Generally speaking, minimum sentences become the default sentence, meaning that they could become automatic and may be applied to every offender, no matter how serious the crime. Someone who is caught driving with 161 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood and someone else who is caught with 250 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood could potentially be given the same sentence. The minimum sentence is 60 days for a first offence. We can expect that type of outcome with the amendment set out in Bill C-590.

I would like to raise another point that came to me as I was reading this bill.

The bill amends section 255 of the Criminal Code to create stiffer penalties for the offence set out in section 253 when the offender's blood alcohol content exceeds 160 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. Many families of victims are calling for stiffer penalties for all drinking and driving offences. Why not increase the penalties when the offender's blood alcohol content exceeds 80 milligrams?

Once again, this does not go far enough. This bill is consistent with the Conservative ideology of law and order, the backbone of which is the fight against crime. However, drinking and driving is a problem that must be considered in its entirety, and the discussion around it should not be limited to penalties. We also need to know what effect these amendments will have on the length of sentences.

According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, close to 70% of impaired drivers killed in car accidents have a blood alcohol content that exceeds 100 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. Will this bill lower that percentage?

I have already mentioned the study on alcohol-impaired driving by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which emphasized the need to bolster prevention. I am going to emphasize prevention based on the 2011 Statistics Canada report on impaired driving in Canada. This report reveals that one-half of impaired driving incidents reported by police take place at night, between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., and that the peak is reached after the bars close.

The authorities, police forces and organizations that promote safe driving must continue and even increase their efforts. The goal is not to discourage good drivers and those who are reasonable, but to ensure that every driver always keeps in mind that they must be sober and always vigilant when they get behind the wheel. Drivers have a tendency to be overconfident at 3 a.m.

We must not forget that provincial and territorial road safety laws govern issues related to drivers with a blood alcohol concentration below the allowable limit. Nine out of the 13 provinces and territories impose administrative licence suspensions on drivers with a blood alcohol concentration equal to or lower than 0.05.

In general, provincial and territorial laws are intended as a quick and effective administrative means of reinforcing the Criminal Code sanctions, which are slow to be applied and are not always imposed, even when Criminal Code charges are laid.

Would it not be better to consider a possible amendment to shorten timeframes rather than extend them with sentences and increase fines?

This bill raises many questions. We will support it, but we will focus on the proposed measures to determine if they are a step in the right direction that will effectively address drunk driving.

Drug-Free Prisons Act June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my Liberal colleague's remarks.

We all know full well that this bill has a misleading title, and that it will do nothing, in reality, to truly eradicate drugs from our federal prisons. Moreover, Correctional Service Canada said that this was a pipe dream, and that what the Conservatives are seeking to do is unrealistic. I know that when the Liberals were in power, not much was achieved either.

Now, I would like to ask my colleague a sincere question, since we in the NDP believe in a correctional system that provides effective rehabilitation programs, continuing education and drug treatment programs, as well as support for programs that promote the reintegration of inmates and ultimately help make our communities safer.

Does my colleague agree with the NDP's point of view when it comes to public safety, reducing recidivism rates and preventing new crimes from being committed?

Respect for Communities Act June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague's speech, which was very eloquent and relevant. We know that 70% of intravenous drug users who use InSite are less likely to share needles, and reducing needle sharing has been listed as an international best practice to reduce HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. However, since we began debating this bill, we have noticed that our colleagues on the government benches have adopted the ostrich approach, meaning they simply stick their heads in the oil sands instead of thinking about the health and safety of Canadians.

Should they not be more realistic and come back down to earth?

Respect for Communities Act June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent work on this issue.

We know that this is a public health and safety issue. Unfortunately, since being elected, we have noticed that the government does not work for all Canadians. I get the impression that it works for its electoral base. I think it is disappointing that they are using this type of issue that affects all Canadians. We have seen this before with other unconstitutional procedures. However, here we have more evidence of the Conservatives going against the Supreme Court decision on injection sites.

Does my colleague not find this approach undemocratic?

Petitions June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition that is protesting the cuts at Canada Post. The petitioners, from my riding of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, are protesting the elimination of door-to-door delivery and higher stamp prices.

This petition is in addition to the hundreds of signatures that have already been collected. The petitioners are calling on the Conservatives to take action and force Canada Post to serve rural regions and the regions that need it.

Business of Supply June 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my Liberal colleague's speech. If I heard her correctly, the member said that the Liberals were against income splitting. However, her leader agrees with the Conservatives that income splitting is a reasonable idea.

Does the member disagree with her leader or is she against income splitting?

Committees of the House June 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for a very good speech. I would also like to mention that we are on the same committee.

Various witnesses told us about a culture that tolerated harassment in the workplace. Women complained about it. Many witnesses said that the retaliation was worse than the sexual harassment itself. They gave us examples of retaliation that people might experience if they reported harassment. They might be ostracized, isolated in the workplace or transferred to another job outside of the organization. They might get sent on undesirable assignments or be demoted.

Is it not time for the government to show some leadership and take concrete action to eradicate this culture, especially considering that women are being encouraged to pursue positions of responsibility?

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, according to Transparency International, Honduras, the most corrupt country in Central America, is a key player in the drug trade. There are also confirmed ties between government members, the police and drug dealers. Moreover, this country has the greatest income disparity in the region.

Instead of giving preferential treatment to this country, should the government not help it achieve a healthy democracy, understand and respect human rights and labour law, and fight corruption and impunity? Would this not be the best way to help that country? I wonder if my colleague could comment on that.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech, but I would like to remind her that she is not the only woman in the House. The NDP women are also here to stand up for their constituents.

I would like to know why the Liberals want to support and put in place a preferential agreement with a country where there is no democracy, a country with the worst human rights record in the world. It also has the highest rate of journalist murders. It is a major cocaine trafficking centre and it tolerates policies that are harmful to the environment.

I do not understand how the Liberal Party can support an agreement with a country such as that. Does it still want to support it even though, according to the statistics, only 10% of the population benefits from the country's wealth?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal colleague for his pertinent question.

Like all Canadians, we have gotten used to how the Conservatives operate. The more secretive they are on that side, the more we are transparent and tell the truth, on ours. Every time we asked about the CBC, the Minister of Heritage told us that it was all in the CBC's hands, not the government's. We were there, it is on the record. Once again, we are seeing a lack of leadership from this government when the time comes to take a stance in support of Canadians, no matter what the issue.