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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
Nuclear Terrorism Act May 10th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, like many of my colleagues, I am rising in the House in support of Bill S-9 on nuclear terrorism.
This bill would amend the Criminal Code in order to add the criminal law requirements found in two international treaties designed to combat nuclear terrorism around the world.
The two treaties in question are the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the CPPNM, and the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.
These international conventions require the signatory states to improve the physical protection of their nuclear facilities as well as the use, storage and transport of nuclear materials. The states are also required to create new criminal offences for acts of terrorism, among other things.
These treaties show that the international community is willing to work together to combat the threats against countries all around the world.
Unfortunately, we are seeing an increasing number of nuclear threats around the world, whether we are talking about Canada, the United States or other countries.
In the past, for example, at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in 2010 and in Seoul in 2012, Canada committed to be legally bound by these conventions and to ratify them.
In 2005, Canada signed the two United Nations treaties, but since then, the Conservatives have unfortunately done nothing.
Bill S-9 would pop up on the order paper from time to time, when they were trying to fill some holes to avoid prorogation. Now, as we approach the end of the session and there are still a few weeks to fill, Bill S-9 is back.
This is an extremely important issue, but Canada has dragged its feet when it comes to honouring the promises and commitments we made to the international community.
Despite everything, I am happy that we are having this debate in the House and that we can maybe move forward with legislation to better protect Canadians and people in other countries, as well as have better relations with the rest of the international community.
At present, we are still unable to keep our promise to ratify those treaties because we do not have a legislative provision in the Criminal Code that criminalizes the offences contained in the two treaties we are discussing today.
If Bill S-9 were passed, it would allow Canada to finally fulfill its international obligations by amending the Criminal Code, which in turn would then meet the requirements of international conventions that the Prime Minister has clearly said he wants Canada to endorse. It is time to keep that promise and to finally achieve the desired result of ensuring everyone's security.
The bill on nuclear terrorism we are debating today includes 10 clauses that would create four new offences under part II of the Criminal Code, as well as other amendments that are consequential to these four offences.
They have already been described at length in the House. I will not go over all the legislative provisions contained in this bill. However, it is extremely important that we make these amendments to the Criminal Code.
The NDP firmly believes in the importance of promoting multilateral diplomacy and international co-operation, especially on such an important issue as nuclear terrorism. This is not the kind of file that we can shove into a drawer and come back to when we have more time or at a more opportune moment. It is something that must be dealt with fairly quickly.
Canada signed these treaties back in 2005. A number of years passed before some measures were taken in order to get the wheels turning. That is what I find disappointing about the whole process.
There is something else that I find quite unfortunate. Once again, the Senate was given the responsibility of introducing a bill that is of vital importance.
It should not be the role of the unelected chamber. Still, I have to say that I appreciate the technical work that was done here. It was painstaking and detailed work. The senators even managed to correct at least one shortcoming in the bill. That effort is appreciated. However, I still believe that this bill should have been introduced initially in the House of Commons, which is where we should have been debating it from the start. Of course, we have the opportunity to do so now, but it is getting to us a bit late.
Despite the procedural shortcomings, Canada still has a responsibility to the international community, and we really need to take action. We have to get serious about domestic and international nuclear security, and we have to co-operate more with other countries on strategies to fight nuclear terrorism.
Unfortunately, threats in today's world are increasing in number and diversity. It can be difficult to predict what tragedy may happen if radioactive or nuclear material were to fall into the wrong hands. Small amounts of this material can cause absolutely unbelievable damage. That is why it is so important to pass Bill S-9 and ensure that the steps we are taking here, in Canada, truly meet our needs.
Aside from creating new offences for nuclear terrorism, threats and so on, what I find interesting and important is that the treaties address various aspects of transporting and storing nuclear material, be it nuclear waste or something else. Canada is a significant producer of medical isotopes. We still use nuclear material that is highly enriched, which creates large quantities of waste that must be disposed of safely.
There are ways to deal with that. I do not think that the materials currently used to make our medical isotopes should still be used. There are alternatives that would produce good results. In the meantime, we need to commit to reducing the quantity of waste we produce from medical isotopes and find better ways to store it. Canada already does this relatively well, but we can always do better and ensure even better protection for the people within our borders.
Some of my colleagues also mentioned the closure of the Gentilly-2 reactor in Quebec, which highlights the importance of proper storage of nuclear materials and proper disposal of waste. Given the closure of that reactor, we need to ensure that we really can dispose of radioactive materials safely when they can no longer be used, in order to ensure that they do not fall into the wrong hands and do not affect the health of Canadians.
I am sure everyone remembers what happened with Bruce Power, an Ontario company, in 2011. It wanted to transport 16 nuclear reactors down the St. Lawrence River and then on to Sweden to decontaminate them, bring them back here and then bury them. It stirred up a great deal of controversy at the time. Mayors of the cities and towns along the river opposed it, and the company had to change its plans. In fact, people were worried about the precedent it would set, about the transportation of this kind of waste increasing considerably on the river, thereby potentially putting our health at risk. Once again, we cannot always predict what will happen with this kind of transportation.
These are all issues that we need to address as parliamentarians. We had the opportunity to do so with Bill S-9. It is critically important that we pass this bill and I hope it receives unanimous support.
Nuclear Terrorism Act May 10th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to thank my colleague and congratulate her on her excellent speech.
My question is very brief. I liked her comments, because they throw light on a particularly important issue, especially given the modern context in which we now live.
Could she say a little more about the provisions in these treaties that concern transportation and storage of nuclear materials, whether waste materials or some other kind?
In the context of Quebec, if we think of the shutting down of Gentilly-2 or other events of this nature, this issue is of particular interest. I would therefore like to hear a little bit more about this facet of the issue.
Ethics May 10th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, once again we see that the government is prepared to move heaven and earth to protect its dishonest senators.
We in the NDP do not think it right that Senator Duffy received privileged information, while he was under investigation, from the senator who was conducting the investigation.
We can see that when senators investigate other senators, accountability gets lost in the fog, rather like that $3.1 billion.
Will the Conservatives do the honourable thing and ask the RCMP to investigate?
Ethics May 10th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it is simply absurd that a senator can get away with such a thing. The Senate's so-called honour system is not working.
It certainly never prevented Mike Duffy from playing his shell game over and over without any consequences. A system that allows such shenanigans to go on until someone is finally caught—that has to go.
Do the Conservatives think it is acceptable that Senator Duffy did not have to file his income tax return in the region he was supposed to be representing?
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
In fact, the NDP has been criticizing the Conservatives for a long time for spending millions of dollars on party propaganda. Quite frankly, these advertisements are not providing the public with any new information, apart from the fact that they tell us a little more about the Conservatives' ideology.
The purpose of these advertisements is supposed to be to provide information to the public; however, in practical terms, that is not what the Conservative advertising does. The Conservative ads are pure and simple propaganda. The Conservatives are spending millions of dollars in public money on this advertising when there are crying needs elsewhere, such as in infrastructure. I am thinking of water systems, for example.
In the last budget, the government did not present a single practical measure with regard to the strategy to implement and manage municipal waste water systems. In my riding, 1,400 residents need water lines built. They are unable to cover the cost of this work, and there is nothing in the budget for that.
Rather than spending millions of dollars on propaganda advertising, why not invest it to give municipalities the resources they need to actually meet the needs of their residents?
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and his kind comments about the good work I do on the committee. I thank him for welcoming me when I arrived.
To get back to the question, the jobs created by the government—the ones that have really been created, since jobs are also being lost—are precarious and are often part-time jobs. They are not of the same quality of the jobs that existed before, and that is very unfortunate. Obviously, the Conservatives do not really have much of a strategy.
I was just talking about a case in my riding relating to employment insurance. That case is a perfect example of what I am describing. Some sectors of the economy are being undermined to try to replace some Canadians who had a job where their expertise was being put to use. That was very beneficial to the company they were working for.
Today, Service Canada is threatening that these people will lose their benefits if they do not change industries. These are the situations I am describing. It all goes to show that the Conservatives basically do not have a strategy.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, today I join my NDP colleagues in opposing Bill C-60, the Conservatives' latest budget implementation bill.
As has unfortunately become a trend in the House, we once again have an omnibus bill that is smaller than previous ones in terms of pages, but is just as devastating.
Bill C-60 amends nearly 50 Canadian laws and even creates a new one: the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act.
Bill C-60 also proposes a number of complex measures that require extensive study in committee or in the House, particularly with respect to the temporary foreign worker program, but the Conservatives are trying to rush them through after abuse was revealed as a result of their poor management of the program and the excessive flexibility.
It is completely unacceptable that the Conservatives are trying to hide their poor decisions from the Canadian public and prevent members from examining the bill, hence avoiding the oversight that all MPs should be providing, whether they are on the government or opposition side. These parliamentarians were sent here by their constituents to represent them and be their voice in the House. They should be able to carefully examine the budget implementation bill without having the Conservative government impose time restrictions as soon as it can.
Although previous omnibus bills were heavily criticized and thousands of Canadians voiced their disapproval, including many from my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, the Conservatives keep persisting. They are doing everything possible to avoid an extensive study in committee, because they know very well that a close study of their bill would highlight the budget's many flaws and their gross incompetence at managing public finances.
As we already know, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance has already suggested limiting the time allotted for studying this bill in committee. The practice in the House, that is, limiting the time allowed for debate, is being reflected in committee. In committee, we find the Conservatives have the same attitude and the same bad faith, as they are still limiting parliamentarians’ opportunities to do their work and represent their constituents properly.
The Conservatives are trying to make Canadians believe that they are the only ones equipped to manage Canada’s economy properly, but if we take a look at their record to date, obviously this makes no sense, and Canadians across the country are well aware of it.
It is not just NDP members or members of the other opposition parties that are making these kinds of comments. Last weekend when I was walking around in my riding, the subject that was brought up most frequently by the constituents I met was the $3.1 billion that mysteriously disappeared under this government’s watch. Frankly, that has shocked and horrified people.
That is why we should be able to take a closer look at the bills this government is introducing, whether they have a direct impact on the economy or not. The Conservatives put on a great show, but if you scratch the surface a little, their façade falls apart quite quickly. The Conservatives do not have the abilities they are bragging about.
Instead of bringing in a budget with concrete measures to create jobs and stimulate the economy, the government is doing exactly the opposite. In fact, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Conservative government’s 2013 budget is more likely to eliminate thousands of jobs, reduce direct program spending and significantly diminish growth in Canada’s gross domestic product.
Canada's economic recovery is already happening more slowly than anticipated. The Minister of Finance even had to revise his predictions, before being quickly chastised by the Prime Minister, who is only thinking about the 2015 election, as though he had blinders on. On reading this budget, it is obvious that the Conservatives are only thinking about the 2015 election and that they forget that the cuts they make now will have a drastic impact on Canadians.
I do not even need to go back to my riding to hear this. I just have to walk around Parliament Hill. Since all parliamentarians use taxis, if you just take a few minutes to talk with the drivers, you quickly realize that the cuts that the Conservatives have been making ever since they came into power are having a major impact.
Taxi drivers already have fewer hours and fewer clients. Their income is lower, as is their chance of contributing to the economy. The same thing is happening in the restaurant business and in all the other small businesses in the national capital region. The situation in Ottawa will be matched in other cities throughout Canada. All those lost jobs mean lower incomes for families, who will have fewer and fewer opportunities to contribute to the economy.
The equation is very simple. This government is already finding it difficult to reduce its spending. Consequently, it will be cutting the delivery of essential services to Canadians. Despite it all, the Conservatives are unable to replenish their coffers because they are giving huge tax credits and all kinds of gifts to their friends in big oil companies, the gas industry and the big banks. Then they end up with deficits. We know that this government has record deficits. This charade that the Conservatives put on every day is absolutely pointless. Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of what they are doing.
For the past few weeks, people have been talking about how the 2013 budget will increase Canadians’ tax burden by raising taxes on just about everything that exists, such as safety deposit boxes, baby strollers, bicycles, wigs for people who have cancer, parking at hospitals, and I could go on. The list is so long that I would squander my entire speech listing all the tax hikes in this budget.
I hear such nonsense from the other side of the House. The Conservatives talk about the carbon tax of $20 billion or $21 billion, sometimes $19 billion—we do not really know anymore. Someone in the Prime Minister’s Office must get his numbers mixed up sometimes. We do not have a carbon tax in our platform, but the government is accusing us of wanting to impose it. The measures in this budget are mind-boggling; the government failed to meet the public's expectations. I am almost speechless at its talent for hiding the truth from Canadians by controlling debate in the House, by limiting the time available for study of a bill in committee and by hiding tax measures that would be unacceptable to most Canadians in the countless pages of the budget.
I am frankly overwhelmed by the hypocrisy shown by this government, especially when I read the budget. The NDP cannot but vote against most of the measures put forward. But we must show some good faith: there are a few good things in the budget. Some money has been and will potentially be set aside for the repair of federal infrastructure, such as wharves. I am thinking that the Percé wharf may benefit, as may the wharf in Portneuf, in my riding, which is the longest deep-water wharf in Canada and one that is badly in need of repair. These funds may help my community, if, of course, political issues do not block access to funds that are critically important, both to my region and that of my colleague from Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
Despite these positive steps, most of the measures in the budget oblige us to vote against it. The Conservatives have the upper hand, saying that the NDP votes against all the measures that the Conservatives put forward, but when they wrap them in such an appalling package, we as the opposition have no choice but to speak up to defend the real priorities of Canadians and do the job for which we were sent to this House.
Let us take a look at all the measures taken by the Conservative government: withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol; crippling our environmental legislation; eliminating protection for thousands of lakes and rivers throughout Canada, several hundred, perhaps even several thousand, of which are in my own riding; increasing the retirement age to 67; and reforming employment insurance. I was talking about a case in my riding where experienced employees were threatened by Service Canada with losing their benefits if they did not give up their current seasonal jobs and take full-time jobs somewhere else. They are trying to hollow out the seasonal industries and shut down entire sectors of our economy.
When these kinds of decisions are made so dogmatically and by keeping people in the dark, it is obvious that Canadians will be better served by the NDP in 2015.
Employment Insurance May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' EI reform is wreaking havoc in my riding. Service Canada ordered an employee who had been at a summer camp for 17 years to leave his seasonal job or else lose his EI benefits. The camp owner is worried that he will lose employees and their valuable expertise.
This is not an isolated example. What will happen to the seasonal industries if the Conservatives threaten all of their skilled workers? What other kinds of abuse will we see before the Conservatives understand that they need to cancel this reform?
National Defence April 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' attitude on this file is unacceptable, just as unacceptable as the attitude of the Minister of National Defence who refuses to answer any questions regarding why soldiers posted in Mazar-e-Sharif do not receive the same danger pay as those posted in Kabul. Once again, the minister refuses to accept responsibility. He blames his public servants, as though he had absolutely no control over his department.
After the lesson he learned yesterday from the House Leader of the Official Opposition, can the Minister of National Defence now explain why he is not treating all soldiers posted in Afghanistan equally?
National Defence April 24th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, let us talk more about issues that showcase Conservative incompetence.
Yesterday, the Minister of National Defence blamed the army for cutting the danger pay of soldiers in Afghanistan. However, he is the minister. He is responsible, and he must have signed off on this directive. He could have opposed this directive as soon as it was suggested, but he did not do so.
If the minister does not know what is happening in his department and is not responsible for what happens, then what good is he?