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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 December 12th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it has been five week since Canadian fighter jets started bombing Iraq. It is difficult to believe, especially considering the government's silence.
There has been no update on the costs or the possibility of extending the mission past the original six-month timeframe. We do not even know if the mission is achieving the objectives set by the government. In fact, we do not even know what those objectives are.
Why are the Conservatives refusing to be accountable to Canadians regarding their military mission in Iraq?
Claude Huot Award December 12th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, on December 10, the sixth Claude Huot award ceremony was held in Saint-Raymond-de-Portneuf. This award, created by the Saint-Raymond heritage society, acknowledges efforts to protect and conserve heritage buildings in the municipality.
I want to congratulate the 2013 award winners, Marcel Gilbert and Pierrette Genois, the proud owners of a magnificent, eclectic Victorian home built in the 1920s.
This year, the award ceremony was especially moving because the man who inspired it passed away on September 29 at the age of 89.
I want to offer my deepest condolences to Daniel Dion, the mayor of Saint-Raymond, and Christiane Huot, Mr. Dion's spouse and Mr. Huot's daughter, and their entire family.
Claude Huot was passionate about history and geography and was the founder of the Saint-Raymond heritage society. He was known for his phenomenal memory and his great love for his home town, which he shared with us through his many writings. We paid a rather emotional tribute to him on December 10.
Thank you for everything, Mr. Huot. Through the Saint-Raymond heritage society, your work will live on.
Petitions December 9th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, like my colleagues from the greater Quebec City area, I too have the pleasure of presenting a petition to ensure the longevity of the Quebec Bridge.
The people of the south shore are represented by Conservative government members, but apparently not well represented. I have a petition asking decision-makers to sit down together, get the discussion going without delay, and do the necessary work to ensure the longevity of a piece of infrastructure that is essential to the greater Quebec City region.
Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to know that my colleague knows where my riding is and which military base is there. My grandfather served there. I come from a military family. So I clearly understand about the service and the sacrifices that the members of our Canadian Forces are asked to make. Wanting to protect them is one of my priorities.
On the other hand, when we listen to this government, we cannot just talk about protection and the importance of security agencies. We must ensure that they are given the resources they need to carry out their mandate. When we look into what the Conservatives have done since they came into power, we note that in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, CSIS had to reduce its budget by $15 million. This year, from now until 2015, their budget will be cut by $24.5 million. That is on top of the cuts of $687.9 million by 2015. They will have cuts to their budget over three consecutive years. I will take no lessons from the Conservative government on protecting Canadians. They are not able to give the necessary resources to the organizations that are in charge of doing that.
Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank my Liberal colleague for his question.
I am very happy to hear him speak on behalf of his colleagues in favour of civilian oversight at CSIS. It would have been nice to hear more Liberal members say so today in the House. I think it is too bad to see this member rise and speak on behalf of all of his colleagues. There is time allocated for debate in the House, and that is the time to rise.
As for the rest, the NDP has stressed the importance of increased oversight at CSIS, and we are working to achieve this. We need to ensure that there is oversight, whether it is by parliamentarians or civilians. As I mentioned earlier, we tried to increase the existing civilian oversight in committee, more specifically with respect to the qualifications of the members on the oversight committee.
There are different things we could do now to improve oversight, without necessarily creating another committee. That is something to look at, of course. I am always open to debate. That is what the House is for—debating.
However, the most important issue for us is that we want to increase civilian oversight of CSIS.
Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join my colleagues in debating a bill on a very important subject. This bill would modernize the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for the purpose of increasing its powers.
However, as several of my colleagues pointed out, adopting the bill as written could have very serious consequences for our citizens and change the way things are done in this country. This bill is deeply flawed, and it is unconstitutional.
That being the case, it is impossible for me and the rest of my colleagues to support such a fundamentally flawed bill. We had hoped for a more co-operative approach in committee so that we could amend the more problematic elements and ensure that the bill truly met Canada's needs. However, the Conservatives exhibited their usual rigidity and dogmatic blindness and flatly rejected all of the good amendments that were proposed. That is how we ended up with the flawed document before us today.
In short, Bill C-44 proposes three major changes to the powers of CSIS. It clarifies the legal authority of CSIS to conduct operations abroad. It is basically a legal confirmation of what is already being done. It confirms the jurisdiction of the Federal Court to issue warrants that have effect outside Canada and it makes changes to the protection of the identity of CSIS human intelligence sources in judicial proceedings. In other words, the proposed changes will significantly increase CSIS's powers.
However, as per the criticisms my colleagues have expressed here in the House, this bill does not contain any provisions to strengthen civilian oversight of CSIS even though that is an essential principle that should be defended by all members of the House, regardless of what party they belong to. Nevertheless, we have heard very little from the Liberals and I have a hard time imagining that a Conservative backbencher would question a measure presented by the eloquent Minister of Public Safety or any other Conservative frontbencher.
Any new power bestowed on an oversight body such as CSIS must be accompanied by increased civilian oversight. That is very simple, but such oversight offers better protection for Canadians. We understand that the role of CSIS is to try to protect Canadians through its various activities, but we also have a responsibility as parliamentarians to protect Canadians from various invasions of their privacy. This bill seems to completely ignore that responsibility, which is nevertheless an integral part of our mandate.
Right now, the Security Intelligence Review Committee serves as the oversight body for CSIS. The members of this committee work part time, are unelected and are appointed by the Prime Minister. Since we know how he appoints senators, we all have reason to be concerned.
The interim chair used to be a Reform MP, which does not really inspire confidence either. What is more, two of the five seats on this committee are vacant. This committee is clearly deficient and needs to be improved, but there is no mention of that in Bill C-44.
Furthermore, in the Conservative budget 2012, they eliminated the position of inspector general of CSIS. The individual in that position was responsible for the internal oversight of CSIS, ensuring that the service's activities complied with the law. Now all we have is a puppet review committee that can be stacked with whoever the governing party wants. Past appointments to the position of chair of that committee have been less than inspiring.
Consider, for example, Arthur Porter and Chuck Strahl. Those names are not associated with generally commendable actions. However, that is the kind of committee that is currently overseeing CSIS's activities. The Conservatives want to give it even greater powers, but have no interest in addressing the problems that exist within the review committee.
We in the NDP have a serious problem with that. We take our duty to protect Canadians' civil liberties very seriously, but that unfortunately does not appear to be the case for the other parties of this House. We proposed a number of amendments in committee to try to strengthen the civilian oversight of CSIS, but as usual, the Conservatives unfortunately would not listen.
In fact, it is far worse: they ignored all the amendments presented even though they were all justified. Experts submitted their evidence in committee even though they were given very little time. They suggested to the government different ways to ensure that the legislation is constitutional and that the civil liberties of Canadians are protected. The Conservatives believe that because they have been elected and have a majority, they do not have to do anything with the proposals, even though they are based on many years of experience and research in the area. They tell themselves that they know better. They presented the current bill before us and chose to completely ignore any piece of advice that ran counter to their ideas.
Quite frankly, I have trouble understanding this attitude. We see it at every committee and in every parliamentary debate. I have lost track of the number of time allocation motions that have been introduced in the House and the number of in camera committee meetings where we were unable to make various submissions, even in respect to the witnesses that were to appear before a committee. It is quite difficult for opposition parties to make sure certain of their witnesses are heard in committee, just because the government is somewhat of a control freak. If someone knows the right French term, let me know.
Nevertheless, that is the context we are working in and it is frankly too bad, especially when we are dealing with a bill as important as Bill C-44. We all agree that we have to take measures to protect Canadians and fight terrorism, both abroad and at home. I talk to the people in my riding and they are concerned about what is happening in the world and what is happening here at home. Nonetheless, they also still want to live under the rule of law, as we do now. These laws are being eroded all the time under the current government. Still, everyone in the country is concerned about this. The government should listen to these concerns and take them into account. This should be reflected in one way or another in the bills it introduces in the House.
When expert witnesses are given just four hours in committee hearings, the various opinions of Canadian citizens are not being taken into consideration. These witnesses know the subject matter and care deeply for the common good of their fellow citizens. The government completely ignored these testimonies when it could have benefited from them. It might have saved itself a tremendous amount in legal fees. Those are coming.
In any event, the Conservatives do not seem to be particularly concerned about this. They found a way to balance the budget. They will simply not spend the money that is allocated for veterans or others, which will leave more money to cover the legal fees when various bills are challenged. I am thinking about their prostitution bill, or Bill C-44, which will inevitably end up before the courts. This awareness does not seem to be part of the Conservative mindset, and that is too bad.
One of the NDP's main concerns is protecting Canadians' civil liberties while guaranteeing their safety. That was our focus when we worked on Bill C-44 in committee and that will continue to be the focus of our work in the House. We tried to improve the bill. Now we will have to see what happens in court. In fact, I think that is where we will end up. I think it is unfortunate that we have to deal with such an attitude. I cannot say it enough.
National Defence December 8th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, there is a reason that most of our allies decided not to carry out air strikes in Syria.
Let me set the record straight. The Prime Minister said that if Canada had clear support from the government, it would proceed with strikes against the Islamic State in Syria.
However, now the Minister of Defence is telling us that he has no plans to take action in Syria.
What exactly does that mean? Bashar al-Assad said no?
Respect for Communities Act December 1st, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague’s speech and quite frankly I found it to be ironic. I heard him say just how much the government cares about the safety and well-being of Canadians, families and communities. He talked at length about how drug use can harm people and their families.
Meanwhile, by introducing this bill, the Conservatives are taking services away from people and endangering not only the health and safety of people with drug problems, but also that of their families and different communities.
My colleague seems to forget that requests for the construction of supervised injection sites are coming from areas of Canada that are already affected by drug use problems. No one is asking for supervised injection sites to be built near schools. The Conservatives are being asked to provide services where they are most needed.
How can my colleague opposite justify closing facilities such as InSite or making it more difficult to open them in areas such as east Vancouver? These are places where people who really need help can turn to. These are not sites where people go to use drugs, but sites where people receive services.
How can he keep saying that he is protecting Canadians' health with a bill that is so flawed and so ridiculous?
National Defence December 1st, 2014
Mr. Speaker, recently released documents reveal that hundreds of cases of sexual assault, harassment and violence have been reported within the the cadet program, which is funded by the federal government. Despite the disclosures, investigations often go nowhere and the aggressors are rarely charged.
Was the minister aware of those reports? What steps have been taken to investigate?
Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act December 1st, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent speech and also for how well he represents the interests of the people of the north. When I see the work that has been done by the Conservative members, particularly the member for Yukon, I think that the people of that part of the country could do a lot better in terms of representation.
Frankly, I find it strange to hear the member opposite calling for consultations and asking to travel all over the country. His government could have consulted the people of Yukon and the other territories a long time ago. Now he stands up in the House to say that the Conservatives need to go and talk to Yukoners. Why did they not do that before? I do not understand. Furthermore, if they really did do any consultation, absolutely none of the comments they received were included in the bill.
Indeed, this appears to be another attempt by this government to put its own interests and the interests of friends ahead of those of Yukoners. There are many natural resource development projects in Yukon, a territory I have been lucky enough to visit many times. There are some very troubling issues, especially around the Peel River watershed.
The bill currently before us is further proof that the government does not respect the people of the north, including Yukoners. I wonder if my colleague could talk a little more about that.