Ruth Ellen Brosseau
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NDP MP for Berthier—Maskinongé (Québec)
Won her last election, in 2011, with 39.60% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Committees of the House June 19th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed the passionate speech from my colleague, as well as all the work she does for the environment and with the environment team.
I wonder if the member could comment on—when we form government in 2015, because the Conservatives are considered an endangered species nowadays—what she would put top of mind, along with climate change?
I would also like to note that there are a lot of students here and youth in the galleries listening to us. I know environment is very top of mind, preserving our country and making it a better place, making sure we do our best and address climate change.
I wonder if the member could comment on what she would do as environment minister, potentially, in 2015.
Dairy Producers June 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am proud and pleased to rise today in the House during the second hour of debate on Motion No. 496, which supports dairy and cheese producers. I sincerely wish to thank all those who have taken part today in this important debate.
The motion that I brought forward seeks to mitigate the impact of the CETA on the dairy and cheese industries and to support Canada’s supply management system, which guarantees stable and fair prices. It comes in response to the demands of dairy and cheese producers from across Canada.
The Canadian government maintains that concessions to the dairy industry would represent annually 4% of the overall market, an amount that in its view could be easily recovered. Dairy producers on the other hand argue that 4% represents a market in excess of $300 million annually.
After speaking to producers and to Canadians, I know that they trust the supply management system. This system has truly stood the test of time. It does not cost the government or the taxpayers anything because producers do not receive any subsidies. Producers would like to see a compensation framework in place to protect supply management, which was introduced in the early 1970s to offset price instability. For the past 40 years, dairy producers have been able to rely on a stable environment and to weather the challenges of changing market conditions.
The intent here is not to initiate a debate on supply management but rather to remind the government of its importance. The agreement in principle will give the EU greater access to the Canadian cheese market, which operates under supply management. It will directly weaken one of the pillars of supply management, namely import controls, and at the same time, the effectiveness of supply management will be put at risk. The stability afforded by supply management allows producers to reinvest in their farms and to draw an income without having to rely on government assistance.
Supply management does not involve subsidies since dairy producers do not receive any kind of government assistance. By comparison, certain European producers receive government subsidies of up to 60%. Our dairy producers are therefore not on an equal footing with their European counterparts. All across the country, flourishing dairy and cheese industries are a boon to local economies. Canada produces 133,270 tons of specialty cheeses, a by no means insignificant amount. This is the end result of many years of work and innovative practices. However, I cannot help but be concerned. For every European cheese sold in our supermarkets, one Canadian cheese loses its spot on store shelves.
My motion ensures that Canadian cheese producers will receive the support they need to compete with European cheeses. It is not a question of providing financial compensation, but rather of giving them much needed support.
I want to point out that 2014 has been designated as the International Year of Family Farming. As a result of government policies, Canada has lost over 8,000 family farms since 2006. Now is not the time to bury our heads in the sand. We must take steps to ensure the survival of our farms and farm labour. Producers reinvest in their farms and in so doing, they support local suppliers and businesses, all of which helps sustain the country’s overall economy.
I know that this has already been mentioned several times this evening, but I will say it again. My motion has received the support of the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec, the Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Producteurs de lait du Québec, the Association des fromagers artisans du Québec, the UPA, Solidarité rurale du Québec and the Association des transporteurs de lait du Québec.
These groups agree that we need a long-term vision for agriculture and dairy and cheese producers. During the first hour of debate on May 28, my colleagues on the other side of the House spoke in favour of my proposal. I hope they will act accordingly.
Housing June 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, 600 victims affected by pyrrhotite came together in Trois-Rivières to discuss the outcome of the Superior Court ruling. The ruling was very clear, and agreed with the victims on every point. The judge based his decision on the consensus of experts and he is calling for changes to the regulations. The standards fall under federal jurisdiction. The federal government therefore needs to stop off-loading the problem onto Quebec City.
When will the government read the ruling and review the regulations to protect the public?
Agricultural Growth Act June 17th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by congratulating my colleague on his fine speech.
This bill is extremely important for Canada and Quebec. As deputy critic in this area and together with the member for Welland, I launched a number of consultations on Bill C-18. All we keep hearing are concerns. A number of members have tabled petitions in the House on issues related to Bill C-18. It is really important that this bill be sent to committee.
I would like my colleague to elaborate on the importance of a long-term vision for agriculture and the fact that the NDP is the only party with a Canada-wide agriculture platform and a more balanced approach to agriculture. We know that agriculture represents one in eight jobs.
Agricultural Growth Act June 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his very interesting speech. I learned a lot, and I would like to point out how important it is that we have a proper debate.
Bill C-18 will put more power into the hands of the minister so that he can make changes without consulting Parliament. Does my colleague have any concerns about that? Does he trust the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food?
I would like to hear his comments.
Agricultural Growth Act June 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I sincerely want to thank my colleague for her speech this evening. I know that she works very hard in her riding. She is a strong voice in the House of Commons. We are almost neighbours.
One out of every eight jobs is created in Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector. It is a truly important sector of the economy because it creates jobs in the regions.
I wanted to point out yet again that this is an omnibus bill. We support certain aspects of the bill but, once again, we have fears and concerns. A number of members from all parties in the House presented petitions about adopting the UPOV convention in 1991.
I want to know whether my colleague could comment again on the fact that this is an omnibus bill. Can we really trust this government and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, who bungled a number of files such as XL Foods, listeriosis and grain transportation? Can she elaborate on this subject?
Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am happy the member has been listening to our speeches. I hope he will take into consideration some of what we have said because it is important. I am sad that he finds it is repetitive. He is frustrated by the fact that we are stating the facts. If he is so frustrated, then, why does he not get on his feet and speak to the bill. He still has time. You could give a 10-minute speech like I just did. You have the right to do it.
Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question and comments. This bill is really important, and Canada can take the lead on this issue.
It is hard to believe that six years after signing this treaty, we are here until midnight with almost no one else around, since the official opposition is the only party taking part in tonight's debate. We have to remember that lives are at stake. The victims are often very vulnerable people, civilians and mostly children. As a mother, I feel we can do a lot to improve this bill. It is not too late. However, we seem to be dealing with a rather thick-headed government that is not willing to acknowledge that it may have erred and that we can do better.
I am no expert in cluster munitions, but after reading the documentation and following the recent debates here in the House and in committee, I know that we can truly improve on the bill by deleting clause 11, and we would be saving lives.
Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to join my voice to those of my official opposition colleagues.
We are opposed to Bill C-6 under its current form because it contradicts and undermines the international treaty it is meant to implement. That is unfortunate. We proposed amendments to the bill at committee stage, but, true to form, the Conservatives allowed just one small change. We are again trying to amend the bill at report stage, but if the government does not agree to further improve the content, then we will have no choice but to oppose it.
In November 2013, the NDP called on the government to amend Bill C-6. According to lawyers, representatives of other countries and groups from civil society, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the new legislation would seriously hinder the implementation of the treaty. The Conservatives' bill to implement the convention on cluster munitions is largely recognized as the weakest and worst in the world. It undermines the spirit in which the treaty was created. These inhumane and cruel weapons must be banned. The Canadian legislation allows Canadian soldiers to continue to use these cluster munitions. It is unbelievable.
Canada actively participated in the Oslo process to develop a convention to ban the use of cluster munitions. The Oslo process came on the heels of the successes of the Ottawa Treaty to Ban Landmines. This treaty was very successful and we are very proud of it. I am talking about the treaty to ban landmines. We built on that treaty in order to rid the world of the horrific weapons known as cluster munitions. The convention was signed by 118 countries, which is significant since that represents more than three-quarters of the UN member states. A total of 84 countries ratified it. When the Dublin process and Oslo process negotiations were complete, we implemented a convention that was important in terms of disarmament and ridding the world of these horrific munitions.
The NDP fully supported the creation of a treaty to ban cluster munitions. This bill undermines the convention it is supposed to implement. That is unfortunate. We oppose this bill as it now stands. In committee, we worked hard to improve it with civil society groups. Even if the amendment the Conservatives allowed is an improvement, it is not enough for us to support this bill. At this stage, the best thing to do would be to completely remove clause 11 from the bill, which is what we are proposing.
I would like to quote the Canadian Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In their opinion, clause 11 would permit:
...activities that could undermine the object and purpose of the CCM and ultimately contribute to the continued use of cluster munitions rather than further their elimination.
Once the treaty is signed, it has to be implemented, and that takes legislation. This bill has been criticized by many experts and those who strongly believe in ridding the world of cluster munitions. The reason is clause 11 primarily, but also other provisions. Clause 11 allows the Canadian Forces to be in theatre when cluster munitions are used. That goes against what we did in the land mines treaty wherein, if we were in theatre with any country that had not signed on to the Ottawa treaty, we would not participate in joint operations with them while they were using those particular weapons.
This bill has a loophole, which basically says that we can be in theatre when one of our allies is using cluster munitions. That is unacceptable
At the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, the NDP supported the Canadian and foreign organizations demanding that the bill be amended. We worked closely with the government, publicly and directly, and were able to convince it to expressly prohibit the use of cluster munitions by Canadian soldiers.
Unfortunately, there remain flaws in the bill. If they are not corrected, Canada will only be able to superficially honour its commitment to ban cluster munitions. In fact, if Bill C-6 is not amended, it could even undermine the convention internationally, in that the withdrawal options and exemptions it contains could be invoked as precedents by other countries.
Canada should show more leadership and meet its commitments. The government has shown its lack of vision in other matters as well. In this regard, I will quote Malcolm Fraser, the former Australian prime minister:
It is a pity the [current] Canadian government, in relation to cluster munitions, does not provide any real lead to the world. Its approach is timid, inadequate and regressive.
I would like to remind the House that 98% of the victims of cluster munitions are civilians, innocent people, mostly children. That is why the world wanted to ban these munitions. Why is the government trying to destroy these efforts?
Moreover, in 2006, 22 Canadian Forces members were killed and 112 wounded in Afghanistan as a result of landmines, cluster munitions, and other explosive devices. Children and adults were maimed and killed by these weapons. We have wanted to get rid of cluster munitions for a long time.
The bill was also condemned by Earl Turcotte, the head of the DFAIT delegation that negotiated the convention. He resigned a few years later in protest against the Conservative government's watered-down version of the convention. Mr. Turcotte said that the proposed legislation is the worst of any country that has ratified or acceded to the convention on cluster munitions to date.
Why is the government refusing to hear what the experts have to say? It is not the first time we have seen that. It is like déjà vu. On several key issues, the government turns a deaf ear. In this case, though, human lives are at stake, which is why I feel that the government should work constructively to amend the bill.
In an open letter published last year, Mr. Turcotte stated that the bill betrays the trust of sister states who negotiated the treaty in good faith. I want to conclude by quoting from an article by Marc Thibodeau in La Presse on June 15, 2013:
After playing a leading role in the fight against landmines, Canada is now being chastised for not fulfilling its commitments in the current campaign to get rid of cluster munitions.
In the same article, Paul Hannon, executive director of Mines Action Canada, says that there are no logical reasons to explain why Ottawa would act this way. He thinks that “the situation is tarnishing Canada's reputation as a leader on humanitarian issues”.
He really gets at the heart of what is becoming a very palpable reality: Canada's international reputation. We have to stop playing and start acting. We need to take a leadership role so that innocent people are no longer killed. We have a job to do. We can resolve this right now. We are here until midnight and we are trying to use this time to have a proper debate.
As was mentioned earlier, we are the only party taking part in tonight's debate. There is still time to amend the bill and delete clause 11. I am confident that we will be able to do something good with this bill.
Housing June 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the pyrrhotite problem is a serious one. It is quite troubling to see the Conservatives refuse to assume their responsibilities. Homes in the greater Mauricie region are ruined. Families have to cover the very high cost of these renovations.
It is not just the NDP calling on the government to do something about this. A judge is ordering the government to take action. Will the Conservatives respect the court ruling and update the standards?