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  • Her favourite word is health.

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

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

Statements in the House

National Volunteer Week April 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as we mark Volunteer Week, I would like to acknowledge the work of more than two million volunteers who contribute their time and effort to various organizations in Quebec. I have always considered volunteering to be the selfless art of giving of one's love, work and time.

The Centre d'action bénévole de Saint-Hubert and the Centre d'action bénévole “Les P'tits bonheurs” in Saint-Bruno, as well as the Centre de soutien entr'Aidants, the organization Au Second Lieu and our two youth centres, to name just a few, can count on a team of volunteers who want to give back to their community and make a difference.

The riding of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert is fortunate to be able to count on people whose generosity is matched only by their dedication.

On behalf of my community, I would like to salute their exceptional contribution and thank them.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we made it very clear that we are against proposals that are not in the best interests of all Canadian families.

The Conservatives are talking about tax credits for people who want to take music lessons, play piano and so on. I do not think that a family on social assistance can take advantage of that tax credit. This is just one example. The Conservatives work for wealthy families and not for all Canadians. The NDP, on the other hand, takes everyone into consideration, regardless of their family status.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her relevant question. I also thank her for the work she does on her committee.

Canadian families are our priority at the NDP. I reiterated that this government is not doing anything for Canadian families. It does not even want to listen to them. It is completely disconnected from reality. We want to give these families a break.

For example, we want to lower credit card interest rates and we want to bring the age of eligibility for pensions back to what it originally was. We are primarily thinking of Canadian families and of the reality they face. We also want to help small and medium-sized businesses. We want to help the manufacturing sector, which has lost 400,000 jobs under the Conservative government.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for such a relevant question. As I said in my speech, ever since I was elected in 2011, this government has repeatedly introduced omnibus bills that contain everything but the kitchen sink. The government has put anything and everything in there, in a deliberate attempt to keep Canadians in the dark and impede our work.

We are in Parliament. In French, the word “parlement” contains the word “parle” or “talk”. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening. We know nothing about funding for this bridge. We know that there is a public-private partnership, but the amount of the government contribution is unknown. We have no information about it.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell you how disappointed I am with this bill. After all this time, one might think that we are accustomed to this kind of bill, which is so bad for Canadians, but I am not. Bill C-31 is a very important reminder of that reality.

I rise today to denounce the Conservative government's arbitrary tactics. Last Friday, the government introduced Bill C-31, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 11, 2014 and other measures. The problem is that this bill is another omnibus bill. It is over 360 pages long and includes a wide range of complex measures.

I would also like to remind any Canadians who are watching that we are debating this bill under a time allocation motion.

Once again, the Conservatives are trying to keep Canadians in the dark and make changes to many laws without any consultation or parliamentary oversight.

Among the laws affected or created by the many provisions, such as the Old Age Security Act and the Administrative Tribunals Act, there is the new bridge for the St. Lawrence act, regarding a bridge linking Montreal with the south shore.

It should be noted that the Champlain Bridge legislation is well hidden in the 360 pages, and for good reason: we can see right off the bat that the bridge will not be subject to the User Fees Act or the Bridges Act. These two laws that provide consumer protection and safety guarantees will not apply to the Champlain Bridge.

What that means is that safety and inspection provisions of the Bridges Act will not apply to the Champlain Bridge. In other words, it will not have to meet the same safety standards as other bridges. That is very alarming.

Who will be responsible for monitoring the safety of this bridge?

Furthermore, the new bridge for the St. Lawrence act will not require the holding of mandatory consultations on user fees established by a regulating authority. This means that the obligations to notify and consult people, justify the fees and create an independent advisory panel to address complaints will not apply to the Champlain Bridge. That is incredible.

In other words, the government is casually deciding to make taxpayers pay for using the new Champlain Bridge, but is taking away from them the means to have a say in the matter. This is confirmed in section 9, which states:

9. Any owner of a vehicle using the bridge must pay any toll, fee or other charge that is applicable to the vehicle under this Act.

We do not yet know what the toll will be for vehicles, and it might be higher than other tolls because the User Fees Act will not apply.

The law that the government wants to impose is unfair and totally arbitrary. We are going to find ourselves in a situation where people are going to pay to use the new bridge, but would pay nothing if they used the Victoria Bridge, for example. Does the government not see that it is going to shift traffic with these measures?

That is really going to impact mobility in the region.

According to the Agence métropolitaine de transport, 200,000 people travel across this bridge each day. The toll will not only stifle Montreal's economic development, but it will also have an impact on household expenses. Since the Conservatives came to power, they have not stopped imposing taxes on households. They do not let up. The toll the government plans to levy proves once again that it is incapable of listening to Canadians and plans to keep making them pay.

The government talks about the need to get people involved in the bridge construction but has not given us any information about funding for the project. The government likes to boast that it is implementing a public-private partnership contract but has not told us how much it will contribute. There is a lack of transparency when it comes to this project.

The legislation governing the new bridge over the St. Lawrence is merely a reflection of the approach the Conservatives have been using since 2011, an arbitrary and abusive approach that is not in keeping with what the provinces want. To move our country forward, the federal government must work hand in hand with the provinces. On this issue in particular, the government should sit down with elected officials and discuss the progress on the new bridge, since Quebec's situation is special in that it has bridges that fall under federal jurisdiction.

In spite of this, the Conservatives are pretending to listen to what people want and are moving forward without consulting those who are directly involved. Given the urgent need for a new bridge, it is worrisome that the Conservative government is not listening to the Government of Quebec, the mayor of Montreal or the south shore mayors. The federal government should work with provincial and municipal partners, rather than arbitrarily imposing decisions on them.

That is why the NDP and members from the south shore—myself included—will not sit on the sidelines. My constituents and others who are affected by this toll are concerned. We live in a democratic country where the government is elected by the people. Right now, people are saying that they do not want this bill and they do not want this toll. The government needs to listen to them. It needs to listen to reason.

In closing, no other government has ever shown so much contempt for our parliamentary institutions and Canadians. This single bill is over 365 pages long and amends more than 40 laws, making it impossible for MPs to do their jobs properly.

It is obvious that our democracy is suffering. The work being done by parliamentarians in the House of Commons is also suffering. Instead of drafting a mammoth bill that is designed to push hundreds of changes through without in-depth study, the government should be taking care of the needs of Canadians.

There is nothing in this bill to help the 300,000 Canadians who have become unemployed since the recession find work or to replace the 400,000 manufacturing jobs that have been lost under this Conservative government.

Petitions April 8th, 2014

The third petition is about my Bill C-523 on the mandatory disclosure of drug shortages. The people who signed this petition have observed that the Government of Canada's voluntary approach has not reduced the impact of shortages on patients and health care professionals.

Petitions April 8th, 2014

The second is about Canada Post. The people want to know the government's position on the Canada Post Corporation Act.

Petitions April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table three petitions today.

The first is about a public transit strategy.

Election of the Speaker April 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the motion moved by the member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington seeks to amend Standing Order 4 regarding the election of the Speaker of the House of Commons.

We in the NDP are always in favour of examining any parliamentary process that promotes democracy. That is why, like my colleagues, I support Bill C-489 going to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The committee will therefore be mandated to examine the possibility of instituting a single, preferential ballot for the election of the Speaker of the House. I would like to go over the key elements of the proposed preferential ballot system.

Members would receive a ballot paper that contains the full list, in alphabetical order, of the names of those members who are candidates for the position of Speaker. Rather than voting for a single candidate, members would vote for their preferred candidates, in order of preference. The Clerk would then count the number of first preferences recorded in the ballots, and if a candidate had received a majority of first preference votes, then that person would be declared elected.

If, after the first count, no candidate had received a majority of first preference votes, the Clerk would eliminate the candidate who received the least number of first preference votes from further counts. The Clerk would distribute the eliminated ballots based on the second choices, third choices, and so on. This process would continue until a candidate had obtained a majority of the votes. In the event of a tie, another vote would be held with a list of the remaining members.

At present, members vote several times in each round, and the members who received the fewest votes are eliminated, until one member receives a majority of the votes. Ultimately, both methods require that one member obtain the majority of votes in order to be elected Speaker of the House.

However, the preferential ballot system has the advantage of being faster. The election in 2011 took six rounds for a candidate to get the majority of votes. I would remind the House that the Standing Orders require at least an hour to pass between ballots, and the process of balloting itself takes a certain amount of time. As it stands, the election process takes quite some time. With this system, we would have only one round of voting, except to break a tie, which would make the process much more effective and efficient.

However, I would like to qualify my support for the preferential balloting system. Each new federal election brings new MPs to the House of Commons. As a newly elected member in 2011, I can attest to the fact that we have to learn the rules and procedures of the House and become familiar with them very quickly.

The preferential balloting system is very easy to understand; there is no doubt about that. My concern is about the fact that new members do not know the candidates. To vote in order of preference, one has to know something about the candidates. The committee must take that into consideration. How can MPs rank candidates in order of preference if they do not know them very well? For virtually all of us, electing the Speaker at the beginning of each parliament is our first task as parliamentarians. This cannot be taken lightly.

Another concern I have is about the impartiality of the Speaker of the House of Commons. It is always helpful to revisit Parliament's democratic practices and assess which procedural methods are the most democratic. However, we need to ensure that the Speaker of the House of Commons remains impartial, which is why it is important that the committee carefully examine changes to the voting process.

To conclude, I would like to point out that Bill C-489 would instruct the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to study the possibility of adopting a preferential ballot to elect the Speaker and to table a report on the issue within six months of this motion being adopted.

The motion takes a similarly logical approach. It aims to make the process of electing a Speaker more efficient. That is why I am supporting it, and I look forward to reading the report by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Health April 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the government's approach to drug shortages is not working. At present, companies voluntarily record drug shortages in a database managed by the industry. Often it is too late, as we just saw in the case of Ritalin, which was just added. However, the media have been talking about it for three weeks.

Instead of waiting for a new crisis, why is the government not working on finding real solutions?