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NDP MP for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier (Québec)
Won her last election, in 2011, with 42.70% of the vote.
Statements in the House
National Defence September 18th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, Canadians do not believe the Minister of National Defence's vague promises anymore. They need a minister who stands up and takes responsibility for the Conservatives' failure when it comes to the mental health of our soldiers.
With the number of soldiers who have committed suicide now higher than the number of soldiers killed in combat in Afghanistan, how does the Minister of National Defence explain that 10% of positions for mental health staff in his department remain vacant?
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I can assure my Liberal colleague that as the government, we would never make a unilateral decision like this. We would bring the issue before the House of Commons for debate, which is what should happen, and we would hold a debate among all the parties, which is appropriate, to try and come to the best solution possible.
I am hearing these comments coming from the Liberal Party, which has a tendency to throw its support behind the government and then ask for details. We saw it with the free trade agreement with the European Union, and we are seeing it again with the current situation in Iraq. The Liberals say that it is an excellent idea and they give the government their support, but once they have said yes, then they ask for details and want to be in the know.
The NDP believes that we should have that information beforehand, that we should debate first and then vote, which is what happens in any good parliamentary democracy.
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.
In fact, all of the points he brought up could have been questions raised during a debate in Parliament before a vote on this mission. The points he raised are closely tied to the humanitarian aid that the NDP and the Iraqi government have been calling for. Those aspects were discussed a great deal by my colleagues during previous debates.
What my colleague is trying to do—and we see this all the time with the Conservative government—is obscure the facts and downplay the importance of debate in the House. The fact that the government has a majority does not negate its responsibility to work with other members and bring these issues before Parliament so that we can vote on them and speak to them. The NDP has already called for humanitarian aid. Statements and comments to that effect were made in committee on September 9. My colleagues made the request multiple times.
What I am not hearing from the Conservative members is any objection to the fact that their Prime Minister broke a promise that he made to Canadians in 2009. That is what I would like to debate. If we want to be able to have confidence in this government to conduct foreign operations, we first need to be able to have confidence that it can manage things on home soil.
Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to join with my colleagues in this very important debate we are having in the House tonight on Canada's response to the situation currently raging in Iraq.
Before I begin, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.
The debate in the House this evening is of the utmost importance because the situation that the people of Iraq are currently facing is frankly intolerable. That has been mentioned by members of all parties in the House this evening. The terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has committed acts of violence that are absolutely disgusting. Civilian populations are being massacred. Civilians are the targets of extremist strikes. There is sexual violence against women, children and members of Iraq's minority communities. Many thousands of Iraqi citizens have had to flee their homes in the face of the escalation of the violence currently raging in their country.
Each of us in the House agrees on one fact. ISIL represents a humanitarian and security threat and the acts currently being committed in Iraq are likely to destabilize the region. The intensity and the nature of the acts of violence are a direct attack on human rights and the freedoms of religion, belief and association. As well, the humanitarian aid needs in Iraq are staggering. Indeed that was the government of Iraq's request to Canada. The first thing the country needs at the moment is rapid humanitarian aid for the thousands, the millions, of displaced civilians who need material support and other kinds of assistance right away.
All parties agree on those elements. Where we disagree—and this is the crux of tonight's debate—is on the Conservative government's unilateral decision to send Canadian troops to Iraq with no consultation with Parliament or even a vote here in the House. I heard people say that our party had an entire opposition day to discuss the issue and force a vote in Parliament. Beyond that, the government has completely neglected part of its responsibility here. It was the government's obligation to consult members of all parties. Each of us represents Canadians who are concerned by the current situation in Iraq. They are wondering what will be the role assigned to the Canadian troops on the ground. People still remember what happened in Afghanistan. It is very fresh in their memories.
I represent the riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, which is home to the Valcartier military base. Many of the soldiers from that base were deployed to Afghanistan. Some never made it home, while others came back with physical or psychological injuries that they still have today. Soldiers and their families want details. They want to know what the Canadian government is sending them into, and the place for such a debate is here in the House of Commons, not behind closed doors with a just a few cabinet ministers. We are told that the information was sent to the Leader of the Opposition who was supposed to share it with his MPs. That is not a debate; that is not consulting Parliament; that is simply getting second-hand information. The government only tells us what it wants to tell us, and then it expects that that information will be shared among the members, and we are supposed to believe we were consulted. That is not at all the kind of work the people of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier sent me to the House of Commons to do.
Once again, the government made a unilateral decision that further undermines the democratic principles that are the very foundation of our country. I heard the Conservatives talking about the importance of sending Canadian troops to spread Canadian values abroad. The current Conservative government is completely incapable of living those values in the day to day. Thus, every day, we see many abuses of the democratic principles that are supposed to be the foundation of our society. Personally, I find it a little hypocritical to hear the Conservatives saying they want to send our soldiers to spread Canadian values and principles, when they themselves are not capable of respecting them.
This is not the first time the Prime Minister has broken his promise to consult Parliament before sending Canadian soldiers overseas. When the Conservatives were still campaigning in 2005-06, the Prime Minister campaigned on a promise to ask for Parliament's consent before deploying Canadian troops. It is written in black and white in the Conservative Party election platform at the time. It was an election promise, so it is easy to say that it was just rhetoric.
When he was elected in August 2009, the Prime Minister also stated unequivocally that his government would henceforth demand that any military deployment be supported by the Parliament of Canada. However, this is at least the second time that he has done otherwise.
During the mission in Libya, we saw that the government broke this promise, and now, for the mission in Iraq it is simply forgetting its promise. The government claims that the issue is more critical, that it has a majority and it does not need to consult with the other members of Parliament.
In my view, this is a direct affront to democracy. As an elected representative, am I supposed to read in the papers that the government has decided to send troops to Iraq, including possibly some of my constituents, while I have absolutely no information about where the troops will come from or what their role will be?
On September 9, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade held a special meeting to provide some clarifications. What a surprise. Once again, theMinister of National Defence was unable to answer the questions of the members of the opposition.
Fortunately, the Minister of Foreign Affairs was there and was able to answer some questions. However, the Minister of National Defence was completely lost. He had no details at all and was unable to do his job in the committee and inform the members.
Technically, the purpose of tonight's debate was also supposedly to provide more details to MPs on the current mission in Iraq. However, once again, the government was generous with its rhetoric and obscurantism, but shared no answers. We have many questions, but we still do not know how many troops will be deployed in total. For now, the government is saying 69. The numbers are somewhat vague. We have no concrete idea.
What will they do exactly to advise and help the Kurdish forces? We still have no idea. What is the mandate and objective of this mission for Canada? We still have no idea.
Unfortunately, we are completely missing the point of tonight's debate because we are still in the same spot. We hear the young people talk about key principles, Canadian values and the advisory role that our troops could play. However, other than that, I still have no concrete information to help me take a stand as an MP, which is what the NDP is asking.
I heard people from different sides of the House ask the NDP members what their position would be. First, we need the details; we need to know what is the mission and what are the objectives. There are a multitude of questions to be answered and, for the time being, the information is sorely lacking.
In addition, we are being told that the Conservative government is reserving the right to re-evaluate the mission in 30 days and to determine what it will do next—once again without involving Parliament and MPs.
A little earlier, my Conservative colleague from Yukon said something interesting. He told us just how important it was to arrive at a consensus in the House and to have all parties support a common position. I would really like to know how we can do that if the opposition members do not have a say in debate.
How can my colleague from Yukon think we can achieve consensus and make a decision in the House when the contribution of opposition members is completely ignored by presenting them with a fait accompli and telling them that it is up to their leader to inform them of decisions made by the government? That makes absolutely no sense.
I have not abdicated my responsibilities as an MP. The citizens of my riding, Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, expect me to take part in the debate and to represent the civilians and the soldiers who live in my riding because they could be directly involved in this mission. However, no one has more information. We have nothing.
We must remember our soldiers' return from Afghanistan before we possibly engage in a mission that could go on forever and about which we know very little. I heard some of my colleagues talk about mission creep. We are currently facing that situation.
I find it deplorable that no vote is being held in Parliament. It is not the opposition's responsibility to devote an opposition day to this issue. The government promised to consult Parliament before deploying the military and they have broken that promise.
It is the Conservative government, not the opposition, that is responsible for this state of affairs.
National Defence September 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, more soldiers have been lost to suicide since 2002 than died in combat in Afghanistan. According to National Defence statistics, 178 soldiers have committed suicide since 2002.That is right, 178. It is obvious that the Conservative government has abandoned our soldiers, our veterans and their caregivers.
How many more deaths will it take in order for the government to realize that it has a crisis on its hands?
National Defence September 15th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, both the Conservatives and the Liberals botched the bidding process to replace the CF-18s.
The process had to be restarted as a result of their improvisation, secrecy and inability to control costs. At this rate, it will be decades before we will have a new fighter jet in operation.
How do the Conservatives plan to replace the CF-18s? Are they going to ransack museums to find spare parts?
Victims Bill of Rights Act June 18th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I will begin by condemning the frankly contemptuous and disgraceful tone taken by the Minister of Justice, as well as the words he used to describe my colleagues from all parties and the work we do in the House. He holds a supposedly honourable position but does not at all act the way Canadians expect him to. If I were him, I would be ashamed of treating the people sitting in the House the way he does. We were all elected by Canadians, who put their trust in us. Each of us deserves the same respect. I am really ashamed to hear him speak.
We know very well why the Conservatives have moved their 75th time allocation motion. They want to have total control in committee. We know how things work in committee; Canadians are not fooled. The Conservatives control the number of witnesses and the testimony. They want to control what is in the report and cover up all the information.
I want the minister to promise not to limit the number of witnesses who will appear before the committee or the time allotted for the study. Is the minister prepared to promise that?
National Defence June 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, first we had Bill Graham and David Pratt, two former Liberal ministers who never hid their enthusiasm for the American missile defence shield. Now a committee of Liberal and Conservative senators is recommending that Canada join the missile defence program.
Unelected people are taking a position and the Liberal leader is dodging questions while the Prime Minister is being very vague about his intentions. Either the Conservatives want in or they do not. There are no half measures here.
In the midst of slashing services to the public, are the Conservatives really going to spend billions on this questionable project?
Public Works and Government Services June 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, according to the Department of Defence's timeline, the contract to replace the CF-18s will not be finalized until 2018. That is the best-case scenario. The department has also acknowledged the possibility that the contract might not be signed until 2020. That gives the department plenty of time to launch a bidding process to get the best value for money and maximize spinoffs for aerospace industry workers.
Why does the Conservative government want to give billions of dollars to Lockheed Martin without even launching a bidding process to replace the CF-18s?
Agricultural Growth Act June 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for that excellent question.
To ask the question is to answer it. As we have seen, we cannot trust this government, and we can trust the minister even less. My colleague spoke about the various crises that Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has experienced since 2011 alone. This government has been in power for far too long, and that is not the first crisis we have faced.
Giving more discretionary power to this government and to the current minister is ridiculous. He has demonstrated his incompetence on more than one occasion. I recently heard him direct some absolutely disgusting comments to my colleague from Alfred-Pellan in response to one of her questions. This colleague represents a riding that is both rural and urban, and he did not seem to get that at all. If he does not understand that, I do not see how he could logically and sensibly exercise the discretionary powers that he would have under Bill C-18. I hope that we can review this provision and amend it as quickly as possible.