- Her favourite word was quebec.
Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Compton—Stanstead (Québec)
Lost her last election, in 2011, with 26.00% of the vote.
Statements in the House
St. Patrick's Day March 11th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, next week we will celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the national day of the Irish people.
Quebeckers of Irish descent make up the second-largest cultural community, after those of French descent. It is estimated that up to 40% of Quebeckers have Irish ancestors. The first Irish arrived in North America in the 16th century, but the majority immigrated in the 19th century, during the potato famine.
The oldest St. Patrick's Day parade in North America takes place each year in Montreal, Quebec. Year after year, hundreds of thousands of people join in the fun.
On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, as someone of Irish ancestry on my mother's side, I would like to wish all Quebeckers of Irish descent a happy St. Patrick's Day.
Competition Act March 10th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in the House on Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Competition Act (inquiry into industry sector) introduced by my colleague from Shefford.
Bill C-452 proposes to amend the Competition Act to give more power to the Competition Bureau. I would like to start by congratulating my colleague for this fine and very important private member’s bill. I think this is a subject that is dear to his heart and I want to salute the quality of the work he has done.
The amendment proposed by my colleague from Shefford will allow the Commissioner of Competition to initiate inquiries of his own accord into fluctuations in the price of gasoline, if there are reasonable grounds for doing so. It will therefore no longer be necessary to wait for complaints to be filed before making an inquiry. If this bill is enacted, the Competition Bureau will be better equipped to combat companies that might profit from their dominant market position to pick consumers’ pockets.
Every time gas prices rise, the governments hands us the same answer: nothing can be done, the Competition Bureau has concluded there was no agreement among the oil companies to fix prices. The truth is that there are a number of flaws in the present act. It does not allow the Competition Bureau to initiate inquiries. And when there is an inquiry, the Competition Bureau cannot really do anything with them because at present it cannot compel the production of documents or protect witnesses. Bill C-452 would eliminate these flaws by allowing the Bureau to initiate inquiries and allowing the federal Trade Tribunal to protect witnesses and seize relevant documents.
If the act is not amended, gas prices will continue to fluctuate with no justification, as is the case at present. And it will again, and still, be consumers who will continue to pay for the more dubious practices on the part of the oil companies.
Gas prices fluctuating is one thing. It is another thing when they rise stealthily and without justification. Recently, prices at the pump rose because of the political instability in north Africa. In just a few hours, prices rose spectacularly. That is completely bizarre, when we know that the events that occurred in north Africa had at that point not yet had any impact on the cost of refined gasoline that was already in Quebec. That practice is nothing more nor less than a way of making even more money on the backs of consumers, and there is a lot. It is estimated that because of collusion, retailers have overcharged Quebec consumers by as much as $100 million.
The Bloc Québécois recently supported Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and the Weights and Measures Act, to fix price errors at the pump. But that bill does not solve the problems of collusion like the ones recently disclosed in Quebec and does not prevent sudden increases in the price of gas. The Conservative government claims that its initiative will save the public a lot of money. Gas consumption in Canada, calculated over a full year, is so high that it is completely foolish to think that bill can have any impact on consumers’ wallets. That is why we in the Bloc Québécois believe that in order to respond effectively to gas price increases, Bill C-452 must be enacted. This bill is the only thing that will have a real impact on prices at the pump.
For years, the Bloc Québécois has been pressuring the federal government to finally take action to address the rising cost of petroleum products. It has dogged the Liberal government of the day so that it would follow up on the recommendations made in 2003 by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. In October 2005, just before the election, the federal government finally listened to the Bloc Québécois' arguments and decided to amend the Competition Act through Bill C-19. That legislation broadened the Competition Bureau's authority to investigate and increased the maximum penalty for conspiracy. However, Bill C-19 did not follow up on all the committee's recommendations. As we know, that legislation, which was only an election ploy, died on the order paper with the election call, and we certainly could not count on the Conservative government to bring it back.
In 2007, the Bloc Québécois introduced Bill C-454, which also died on the order paper, when the election of 2008 was called.
In 2009, the Conservatives took part of the bill and included it in the budget implementation act. However, they did not see fit to allow the Competition Bureau to initiate investigations. That is why the hon. member for Shefford came back again with Bill C-452. The recent years clearly show that neither the Conservatives, nor the Liberals acted to protect consumers. By contrast, the Bloc Québécois is taking action.
For the Bloc Québécois, the only effective way to deal with the rising cost of gas is to use a global strategy. That strategy is three-pronged: to bring the industry into line, to make it contribute, and to reduce our dependency on oil.
First, we must bring the oil industry into line. The initiative of my colleague for Shefford supports that approach. It is also necessary to set up a true monitoring agency for the oil sector.
Second, the oil industry must make a contribution. With the increase of costs and oil company profits, it is important that the latter pay their fair share of taxes. How can we accept that consumers are getting poorer, while oil companies are getting richer?
Despite the recent recession and despite the rise in the price of gas, oil companies are posting record sales. In 1995, the Canadian oil and gas sector posted combined sales of $25 billion. By 2008, this figure had climbed to $148 billion. That is an increase of nearly 600%.
Now let us talk about profits. In 2003, Canada's oil sector made $17.6 billion in profits. In 2008, it made $79 billion. In other words, the net profits of Canada's oil sector more than quadrupled in just five years. The Bloc members feel that the party must end for the oil companies.
But obviously the Conservatives do not feel that way. In 2003, they supported the Liberal government's move to reduce the overall tax rate for oil companies from 28% to 21%. With the changes brought in by the Liberals, supported by the Conservatives, taxes for Canada's oil sector became more advantageous than in Texas.
But that is not enough. In 2007, in their economic statement, the Conservatives introduced tax cuts for oil companies that would see their tax rates drop to 15% in 2012. These tax cuts will enable the oil companies to pocket approximately $3.6 billion in 2012. These figures make it clear that the federal government chooses to give priority to the interests of the oil companies, at the expense of consumers.
I do not know how the Conservative members justify this to their constituents, but I know that when I meet my constituents from Compton—Stanstead, not a single one tells me that the gifts to the oil companies are justified. On the contrary, the people I meet feel cheated by this Conservative government, a government that is in league with an industry that exploits consumers' dependence on oil.
The third component of the approach proposed by the Bloc Québécois has to do with reducing consumers' dependence on oil. This makes sense and it is perfectly in line with Quebec's efforts to fight global warming. The less gas that we consume, the less money the industry will pocket and the better off our planet will be.
Business of Supply March 10th, 2011
Good grief, Mr. Speaker, I would have a hard time putting myself in the mind of a Conservative. I do not think I could do it.
If they are afraid to give this information, it is because they are lying. They fear the truth. They are afraid to tell it the way it is. When I watch them, I have the feeling I am in Texas where cowboys walk around pretending they are the greatest. That is their attitude. They despise democracy. They despise the Access to Information Act. It is obvious. They have been in government for five years and they have become champions of underhand dealings. Why are they not revealing this information? Because that is part of their culture. They need to conceal everything. I think lack of transparency is part of their DNA.
Business of Supply March 10th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his brilliant question.
During the 2006 election, a Conservative candidate ran against me. He was the first one to testify because of his conscience and values. I congratulated him on his honesty. Today, Mr. Caldwell can walk with his head held high.
The most disgusting aspect of all this is that in 2005-06, we saw a Prime Minister promise, with his hand on his heart, that his government would be transparent, that it would be a government of the people, that it would be honest and would not do what the Liberals did. It was indeed different. Instead of taking 13 years to resort to propaganda and ideology, the Conservatives needed just two years. They are a bit cleverer than the Liberals but not cleverer than many citizens.
This government is not any better than the previous one.
Business of Supply March 10th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time there has been mention of the cynicism that reigns within society. People are disillusioned and are increasingly abandoning politics.
In the last federal election, the voter turnout was only 58.8%, according to the Chief Electoral Officer. Thus, less than one-quarter of all voters elected the government. This is a very sad record, since we would need to go back to the 19th century to find a turnout so low.
This sad situation might be explained by a number of reasons. People may have the impression that politicians believe they are above the law, that politicians show a lot of partisanship and that they make misleading statements. Do you not find that this describes the Conservative government's actions very well?
The Bloc Québécois finds that this government's ideology is an affront to democracy. For the Conservative Party, the House of Commons is the equivalent of a monkey wrench stuck in the gears of the Conservative strategy, which aims only to keep the party in power. This shows its entire lack of respect for the principles that form the basis of our democracy.
Sine the Conservatives came to power in 2006, a number of ministers have found themselves in embarrassing situations. Their exaggerated partisanship and their attempts to control information are the reasons for that.
On March 3, 2011, an employee of the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism used the public resources of his office. The minister's director of multicultural affairs mistakenly sent a member of the NDP a fundraising letter for a Conservative advertising campaign. The letter provided a detailed outline of the Conservatives' strategy, and we learned that only certain cultural communities were being targeted. The minister's government letterhead was used, which violates the rules.
The minister also adopts a client-centric approach although he is responsible for all newcomers. It is absolutely unacceptable. The Minister of Immigration has been mixed up in a number of cases that highlight this government's questionable strategy. A government certificate bearing the immense logo of the Conservative Party and sending an ultra-partisan email to a refugee defence agency can be added to the list of the minister's ideological actions. But the minister does not even have the courage to assume his responsibilities. He refuses to leave office and places the blame on his former employee.
In December 2010, the minister responsible for CIDA was asked a question in committee about who had altered a document coming from the agency. By adding the word “not”, someone had cancelled the decision made by officials to grant financing in the amount of $7 million to the KAIROS organization. However, the minister admitted in February that she herself had altered the document in order to cancel the KAIROS financing.
This action reflects the Conservatives’ lack of sensitivity towards the causes defended by this organization. But, more importantly, the minister lied to the committee and misled the representatives of the people. Since then, she has not been allowed by her one and only big boss, the Prime Minister, to answer any questions from the opposition. When she answers a question relating to this matter, she simply reads a memo from one of her assistants about the situation in another country. So she is just deflecting questions.
The Speaker of the House said yesterday that the minister has violated parliamentary privilege. She may be declared to be in contempt of Parliament. This depends on the actions of the opposition in the coming days.
Regardless of how this case ends, it is the duty of every parliamentarian to denounce this reactionary behaviour. When members of the cabinet violate the rules of the House as she did, it only increases the cynicism felt towards politicians.
Late in 2010, public servants received a directive ordering them to replace “Government of Canada” with “Preparation H Government”. The Prime Minister is thus trying to show that he is the government and that he is the master of Parliament. How can we avoid comparing him to Big Brother, the omnipresent fictional character who rules the state? You might also feel that you are living in a storybook world of wizards, in which the state is run by a Government Who Must Not Be Named.
Some public administration experts make a parallel with King Louis XIV, who said “I am the State”. I should point out that Louis XIV reigned over France during the 17th and 18th centuries. This is what we call a regressive ideology.
While we are on the issue information monitoring and control, I must mention the obstruction by the Minister of Natural Resources and his lack of transparency. Back in October, one of the minister's assistants resigned—another one—when the media revealed that he had tried on three occasions to prevent the disclosure of government information. Around the middle of December 2010, we learned that two other assistants of the minister had also tried to block an authorized access to information request. While he was the Minister of Public Works, the minister's office impeded the disclosure of information on the asbestos issue and on the preparations for the U.S. president's visit, in 2009.
With these numerous cases of obstruction and lack of transparency, we can no longer talk about isolated incidents but, rather, a true culture of secrecy. The minister gives a lot of work to the Information Commissioner's investigators. We also have doubts about the minister's defence, who pleaded ignorance. This is yet another cabinet member who refused to resign despite those wrongdoings.
The circumvention of election campaign rules by the Conservatives is certainly the best example of the Conservative government's behaviour. This government will do anything to remain in office and to promote its partisan interests. A few days ago, the Federal Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the Federal Court, which supported the Conservatives' view on their election financing scheme. This issue dates back to 2006. To better understand its impact, I am going to mention the facts surrounding this controversy.
During the 2006 election campaign, the Conservative Party exceeded the spending limit by one million dollars. Four major Conservative organizers were involved in that illegal scheme, including two who are now senators. That is probably a prerequisite. I am referring to the in and out scheme used by the party's strategists. The Conservatives tried to circumvent the rules by involving local organizations in their calculations of election expenses to pay for national ads. In 2007, the Conservative Party took Elections Canada to court. That takes some nerve. The arm's length body refused to pay back the election expenses claimed by 67 candidates, of which more than one third are Quebec candidates.
Last Tuesday's ruling supports Elections Canada's stand. The organization says that the Conservatives divided over $1 million among candidates who had not yet reached their individual spending limit.
When it comes to spending limits, the Canada Elections Act is essential to the health of our democracy. It ensures a level playing field among candidates, so that money is not the overriding factor in an election campaign. However, as we know, the Conservatives are a little too fond of the American model. They would like to see the day when spending limits are abolished. Remember their attempts to abolish public financing for political parties, so as to muzzle opposition parties. In its decision, the Federal Court of Appeal points out on a number of occasions the Conservative Party's wrongdoings.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that this government has no intention of respecting the will of the people's representatives who are gathered in this House. There are a number of reasons to denounce the conduct of the government, namely: the unacceptable actions of several of its ministers; its self-promotion through government communications; the circumvention of the election rules by its party; and its blatant lack of transparency, despite putting its hand on its heart.
For these reasons, I am asking all members of this House to support the Bloc Québécois' motion.
Status of Women March 8th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs' sneak attack on the members of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women is symptomatic of the government's attitude in general. In recent years, the Conservatives have slashed Status of Women Canada's budget, cut funding to numerous women's rights organizations and abolished the court challenges program. As a female Conservative senator said, with the Conservatives, women had best shut up.
When will this government stop attacking those who promote women's rights?
Bernard Bureau March 4th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, Bernard Bureau has received a prestigious lifetime achievement award. He won the 2010 Homage Award from the Association des camps certifiés du Québec
Mr. Bureau is the director general of Camps Espaces Jeunesse and has been heading up Camp Val-Estrie in Waterville since 1987 and Camp de Portneuf since 1994. Camp Val-Estrie is known throughout Quebec for its hospitality and its fine activities and is a model for all the vacation camps in Quebec. Every year, thousands of people go to Camp Val-Estrie and take part in its wide range of activities.
I want to congratulate Bernard Bureau on everything he has done. Mr. Bureau is contributing to the advancement and development of the tourist industry in the RCM of Coaticook and throughout the Eastern Townships.
Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 4th, 2011
Mr. Speaker, I am not a lawyer, and since Bill C-60 seems complex, I would like my colleague to help me understand by answering a question that came to my mind this morning.
Would this bill allow me, as a private citizen, to arrest one or more individuals suspected of committing election fraud?
Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act March 2nd, 2011
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government needs to stop saying that the Bloc Québécois does not support veterans. I have a message for the Conservatives: I am the daughter of a veteran. My father fought in England, as did my uncle and aunt. My father came back with tuberculosis; my uncle, with a leg missing; and my aunt, with only half of her head. It is very important to me that Bill C-55 about veterans be well thought out and well crafted. My father had tuberculosis and received a monthly pension to help him move past the depression, the ordeal and the horror he had gone through in the war.
Why does the government still insist on not providing a monthly pension to those returning from war, those who defend democracy? These are our parents, our brothers, our sisters. I would like to understand why the government is being so stubborn about the monthly disability pension. Why does my colleague think?
Wulftec March 1st, 2011
Mr. Speaker, certain companies contribute to the economic prosperity of a region and make it proud. One such company is Wulftec, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in December 2010. Over the years, Wulftec has become a true pillar of development in Ayer's Cliff. With its innovative processes, Wulftec stands out as a global leader in the manufacture of stretch wrappers, strapping machinery and conveyors.
Wulftec's 175 employees can attest to the respect they receive from their employer, for Wulftec's personnel retention rate is 96%. Few companies in the industrial sector can boast such a rate.
On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I am very honoured and proud to sincerely congratulate Wulftec in Ayer's Cliff.