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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was public.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 31.90% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Citizenship and Immigration March 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, beyond the ethical problems with the minister's clumsy fundraising appeal, his very strategy is concerning. A government should show more respect to Canadians, not simply see them as votes up for grabs.

New Canadians who are looking for reasons to call this country their home and to feel welcome here should not be treated like commodities to be won or lost. What are new Canadians and ethnic minorities to think of this? What does “very ethnic” mean anyway?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may not have any legal training, but she clearly has a legal mind. I would suggest that she take a law program if she is looking to do some courses. The faculty of political science and law at the Université du Québec à Montréal would be an excellent place for that. The program is available at other Université du Québec campuses as well. I graduated from that program, and I found both the law course and the political science course to be excellent.

Since some of the charges against the two Conservative senators and two high-ranking officials in the Conservative Party—or maybe I should talk about the Prime Minister's party, since he wants to attach his name to everything—concern the falsification or production of fake invoices, maybe the management at Retail Media Group should have the offenders arrested for falsifying the company's property. Invoices carrying the company's legal name belong to Retail Media Group. But it seems that some of the charges against these four high-ranking Conservatives, including two sitting senators, have to do with producing fake invoices.

That is an excellent question.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I take note of your admonishment. I will make every effort to respect that admonishment and to adhere to the rules of the House of Commons in terms of use of sitting members' family names or first names when taking part in debates or rising to speak in the House.

I do, however, warn that it may be difficult if I am citing from an official government document and that document adheres to the written instructions of the sitting Prime Minister that the term “Government of Canada” should no longer be used; it should be his last name in front of the word “government”. It might be difficult, but I will make every effort to adhere to the rules of the House.

When I talk about Government of Canada in my debate, I will make every effort not to use the Prime Minister's name, although he has requested all public civil servants that it is no longer the Government of Canada, it is his government.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chen had to incur significant legal costs in order to defend himself under the current provisions of the Criminal Code. Thankfully, he was acquitted, as were the two other individuals who worked for him in October of 2010.

If we heed the words of the Minister of Justice, did the government at that time bring forth amendments to the Criminal Code provisions which deal with citizens' arrests? No, it did not. It had months and months in which to do so. It had two private members' bills, both sitting members, who had tabled their respective private members' bills and had offered the government to take them over, table them in the government's name and they and their caucuses would be supportive.

It is yet another example of how the government under the sitting Prime Minister, who now wants the Government of Canada to be called his government, uses real issues that can have a real impact, sometimes devastating, on citizens' lives as a political football. The Conservatives are now worried about possibly the vote in that particular section of Toronto and perhaps in other areas of Canada, so now all of a sudden the issue has become important to the them and a priority.

The Liberals will not stand in the way of getting Bill C-60 to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights quickly. If any member of the government were to stand in future debate and make that insinuation, they would be wrong and they would be making that false insinuation knowingly, because it has been stated here by the justice critic of the official opposition.

My colleague from British Columbia rose and asked a question of the minister. The minister brushed off his question. I wonder why the minister and his colleagues, whose party forms the Government of Canada--I am getting too close to violating again, I was tempted to use the sitting Prime Minister's preferred term--brushed it off.

At committee we wish to make clear and certain that there are no unintended consequences with this legislation and with the proposed amendments, so we need to ensure that the term “reasonable grounds” is clear and the reasonable time after the commission of a criminal offence or reasonable grounds that there was the commission or the attempt to commit a criminal offence and the time in which the citizen's arrest is effected is also well defined.

The other issue is we want to make sure it appears that if a citizen has reasonable grounds to believe that another individual is either committing an offence against the owner's property or the person who has legal possession of that property and effects a citizen's arrest, in some cases using reasonable force, and it turns out the person was mistaken, the individual who was presumed to be a culprit and committing a criminal offence or to have committed a criminal offence in a reasonable timeframe wherein the citizen's arrest could be effected, the person effecting the arrest is protected.

I believe it is clear that individuals are protected. If they are in fact the owners of the property or duly authorized to be in possession of the property and had reasonable grounds to believe another individual was attempting to commit a criminal offence against that property and within a reasonable time effected a citizen's arrest using reasonable force, then that person is protected.

However, clearly there is nothing in the provisions for the individual who is the subject of the suspicions and ultimately the citizen's arrest if it turns out he or she was not committing an offence. Individuals who may have been subjected to damages to their reputation or their own belongings may have civil remedies available and it will be interesting to hear the minister speak to that when he appears before committee.

I have been pretty good so far. I have avoided using the sitting Prime Minister's surname in front of the word “government”, as he has requested be done by all public servants and in any official communication going out from any government department or agency. I have been good about that, however difficult and tempting it has been.

My colleague asked the question about what, if any, protections there are for citizens who become the object of suspicion by another and placed under citizen's arrest, which turns out to be a false arrest because the individual thought to be a criminal is not and has every right to the property in question. Those are issues that need to be dealt with because we do not want to create another category of victims.

We want citizens in lawful possession of property to be able, in reasonable circumstances with reasonable grounds, to protect it. However, we also do not wish to create a category of new victims where people do not understand because we have not done the work.

It is not just the opposition. The Government of Canada will have to conduct clear educational advertising, and not like it did with its economic plan which was disguised political partisan advertising. This needs to be clear educational advertising so that everybody in Canada understands what these new provisions mean, what they allow and do not allow, and what can be lawfully done in different circumstances. Hopefully these provisions will provide very clear limits.

I will conclude by saying that Liberals have been calling for this bill for months, if not over a year, since the time that Mr. Chen was originally arrested by the police for trying to defend his property. We are pleased that the government has finally brought forth a piece of legislation. We are anxious to see it in committee so that we can ensure that it does not go beyond what it should and that it does not, in any way, shape, or form create the unintended consequence of vigilantism.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I understand that it is against the rules of the House to use the names of other sitting members, but when a sitting member instructs the employees of the Government of Canada in their public communications to no longer use the term “Government of Canada” but instead to use his family name in conjunction with the word “government”, then it is a little difficult for members of Parliament to properly--

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act March 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-60 as official opposition critic.

I managed to hear most of the speech by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and I noticed that he was calling for this bill to be fast-tracked through the House. The Liberals agree with quickly sending this bill to committee to be studied.

The bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to allow private citizens who own or have lawful possession of property to arrest a person whom they find committing a criminal offence, or in relation to that criminal offence on or in relation to that property within a reasonable amount of time. This power of arrest is permitted only in circumstances where there are reasonable grounds to believe that it is not feasible for the person to call in law enforcement to make the arrest.

All of this stems from a very high-profile case, that of a shopkeeper in the Toronto area, David Chen. There was a thief, a repeat offender, a small-time petty thief, who had been arrested and convicted on at least one previous occasion and who had charges of theft pending against him. He was victimizing shopkeepers in Chinatown. This particular shopkeeper had been the victim of a theft by this petty thief, whom the police patrolling the area were well aware of.

On this occasion, the person came into his shop and Mr. Chen effected a citizen's arrest with the assistance of a family member and an employee. When law enforcement actually showed up, Mr. Chen, his family member and his employee were the ones who were arrested and charged. I believe some of the charges brought against Mr. Chen were unlawful, forcible confinement, the use of force, et cetera. That is because under the current provisions of the Criminal Code, a citizen may make an arrest only when a criminal offence is being committed, or has been committed and the alleged criminal is in the process of fleeing, for instance.

However, if a citizen is aware that he or she has been a victim of theft, perhaps destruction of their property, and knows there are reasonable grounds to suspect a specific person and then sees that person at a later time when it is not feasible to call law enforcement, or when law enforcement would not arrive in time before the person flees from the premises or location, that citizen effects an arrest.

Under the current provision, if time has passed and it is the next day, that citizen cannot legally effect a citizen's arrest and cannot use force to restrain the alleged culprit.

Mr. Chen was charged.

A Liberal member called on the government, in the name of all Liberals, to immediately enact provisions to protect citizens in those circumstances. It is unfortunate that the government did not move at that time. That Liberal member tabled a private member's bill that would, in fact, have made those changes and ensured the protection of citizens.

An NDP member, on behalf of the NDP, also called on the government at that time to move to act. When the government did not do so, that NDP member also tabled a private member's bill.

Mr. Chen had to hire legal counsel and appear in court, as did the two other people charged alongside him. He incurred legal fees. He had to take time away from his business. He is a small business owner who has created some employment, including for members of his family and other residents of Canada. He pays taxes to the municipal government, to the provincial government and to the Government of Canada, or should I use the term that the Prime Minister has now instructed government employees to use, the “Harper Government”--

Judiciary February 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Immigration escalated his attack on the judiciary. He said that Canadian courts do not allow the law to be enforced.

This is a serious and unprecedented charge that must be explained. The Minister of Justice has a responsibility to defend the independence of our judges and our Canadian court system. Why has he been silent?

Why is the Minister of Justice allowing his colleague to intimidate our judges and our court system? Why?

Judiciary February 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the Minister of Immigration launched an attack on the judiciary. According to him, judges make up excuses to allow foreign criminals to stay in Canada. He described judges' rulings as capricious and he deplored what he called their misplaced clemency.

Will the minister give us the name of a single judge who has acted in this way or will he allow his disgusting comments to tarnish the reputation of every judge in Canada?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 11th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would not say that words fail me just because I will not be debating the bill itself. I want to debate the motion that would prevent any discussion of the substance of the bill. I find it rather odd that the Bloc supports the government's attempt to stop any possibility of debating the substance of the bill.

No one in the House can accuse the Liberals of not supporting the proposal to abolish one-sixth accelerated parole for white collar criminals. Two years ago, my colleague from Bourassa, our candidate in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, and the member for Lac-Saint-Louis participated in a press conference with a number of Earl Jones' victims to urge the government to quickly introduce a bill to eliminate eligibility for one-sixth accelerated parole for white collar criminals, especially those who commit major fraud and have many victims. No one can accuse the Liberals of not supporting this idea. I find it shameful that the government is making these types of accusations when it is fully aware of the Liberal position. That is my first point.

Second, I want to talk about the debate and the possibility that there will be closure. Barely seven months ago, the Bloc members rose in the House to criticize this government for doing what it is about to do with Bill C-59. The government had moved a motion to prevent debate. The Bloc member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain rose in the House last June to admonish the government because it moved a motion to prevent debate on the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. The Bloc member for Hochelaga also rose to oppose the government's time allocation motion to prevent debate on the Jobs and Economics Growth Act, Bill C-9.

We oppose this time allocation motion because we believe that this is an important matter. In addition, the Liberals have been asking the government for two years to abolish one-sixth accelerated parole for white collar criminals such as Earl Jones, Vincent Lacroix and others. I find it regrettable that the Conservatives are trying to make people believe that the Liberals do not care about the victims. That is not true.

As I mentioned, when the government introduced Bill C-21 regarding white collar criminals and it was sent to committee, I proposed an amendment to eliminate the one-sixth accelerated parole rule for white collar criminals. The Conservative and Bloc members defeated the motion.

It is a matter of responsibility. Every member has the right to speak about the bills that the government introduces in the House. This is an extremely important issue.

We would like to hear from experts. It is possible that experts will tell us that we should eliminate the possibility of parole after one-sixth of a sentence for white collar criminals who committed a crime over a certain amount or if there were multiple victims. But for white collar crime that is not fraud, we believe evidence shows that parole after one-sixth of the sentence is served is very effective and that the recidivism rate is lower. I do not know. With this motion to limit debate, we will perhaps never know before we are asked to vote on this bill.

The Liberals are against this motion to limit debate. It is not justified, and we are sorry to see that the Bloc has decided to join the Conservatives to limit debate on this bill. As for the substance of the bill, up until today, no one could accuse the Liberals of not showing their support for eliminating the one-sixth accelerated parole rule for white collar criminals.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 11th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would also ask the member whether or not he has actually checked his government figures on the financing of victims support programs and the fact his government has cut its financing of those programs by almost half.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act February 11th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I urge the parliamentary secretary to read the transcripts of the hearings that the justice committee held on Bill C-21, the white collar bill.

First, he will find that the Liberals supported the bill. He might want to also check the media coverage of a press conference held over two years ago in which Liberals called on the government to remove the one-sixth accelerated parole release for white collar criminals.

In the justice committee this past fall, when the white collar crime bill was being examined, it was a Liberal member who brought in an amendment that would in fact have eliminated the one-sixth accelerated release or early parole release, as it is commonly called, for white collar criminals and major fraudsters. Guess what? A Conservative chair ruled it out of order. I challenged the chair and the Conservative and Bloc members voted to uphold the chair's ruling. Therefore, they voted against eliminating the one-sixth early parole. The member may wish to check his facts before he says that Liberals do not support victims.

The second point—