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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word is conservatives.

NDP MP for Saint-Lambert (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 42.60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Citizenship and Immigration December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in Canada, we consider everyone to be equal, no matter what their religion. We do not turn our backs on people in need simply because they do not share the same religion.

The Conservatives want to choose refugees based on their religion, but no matter what they think, all Syrians need our help. Their approach is shameful and outrageous.

Will the minister commit to accepting more Syrians refugees without imposing religious conditions?

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

He said that once this bill is passed, Parks Canada will be in a position to manage the park very constructively and positively. He left out the fact that in 2012, the Conservatives announced $29 million in cuts to Parks Canada's funding, which led to the elimination of over 600 jobs and reduced Parks Canada's scientific capacity by one-third.

My question is simple: how can my colleague really believe his government's promise to manage the park properly now that such big cuts have been made?

Citizenship and Immigration December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, 28 countries expressed their solidarity with Syrian refugees. Germany has already taken in 20,000 refugees and Sweden has taken in 30,000. Winter is approaching for these people. They need our help.

The United Nations refugee agency representative in Ottawa called on Canada to answer the UN's call.

Will the minister finally commit to accepting more Syrian refugees?

Citizenship and Immigration December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today, the High Commissioner for Refugees is organizing a meeting in Geneva to promote the relocation of 100,000 refugees of the Syrian civil war. The United Nations is calling on Canada to do its part. So far, only 163 refugees sponsored by private groups have arrived in Canada.

Why are the Conservatives refusing to heed the call of the United Nations? Why are they refusing to help the Syrian people?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her speech.

She spoke about public safety as well as rights and protection of civil liberties. On October 28, the Prime Minister said this:

Canadians do not have effective rights unless we can ensure their security...

Would the hon. member like to comment on the Prime Minister's remarks?

Social Development December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, members of the Social Security Tribunal are making $100,000, yet they stayed at home and did nothing since the new tribunal was not active. This is further proof of the Conservatives' incompetence.

While the minister was recently boasting about his experience with clearing up backlogs and tribunal members were being paid to do nothing, thousands of seniors, persons with disabilities and terminally ill patients waited months for justice.

When will the minister get serious about clearing up backlogs?

Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations December 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour for me to rise and address the House, especially on a topic that I care about as deeply as the issue of forced marriage and, on a broader level, women's rights.

While the government majority is once again showing off its ability to muddy the debate and create confusion, I will try, through this intervention, to bring a little clarity to our discussion. It is always important to remember the philosophers who have interpreted the world in the past, in order to learn from their reflections and extract the principles that guide our political action. Thus, we learn from Albert Camus that to call things by incorrect names is to add to the world's misery.

That expression perfectly sums up the four years of Conservative government majority: adding confusion to misery and suspicion to distress, pretending to act when really they just run around in circles, mixing up words and forgetting the facts. Once again, the text of this motion is a glaring example of this government's intellectual dishonesty when it comes to immigration. I witnessed this first-hand as deputy critic for immigration for three years, and I see the same deficiencies in this motion.

The motion confuses some rather specific and complex concepts, such as forced marriage, arranged marriage and marriage by proxy. It is important to clarify these concepts and to define the terms of the debate by pointing out some fundamental notions.

A forced marriage means that one of the spouses is forced to marry against their will. This is something I witnessed when I worked as a social worker, and I can tell you how horrible it is. This practice is an untenable attack on human dignity, on the dignity of women and in particular on the humanist values set out in section 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which we support.

In the case of arranged marriages, families get together to set up a marriage. Even though this practice may seem outdated to us, at least both spouses are consenting parties. With marriage by proxy, both spouses are also consenting parties. This practice enables two spouses who are separated by circumstance, often in war-torn countries, to get married remotely, but they are both willing, at all times. I think it is terrible that the Conservatives continue to mix up these three practices in their speeches.

As we heard from the witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, forced marriages are very rarely conducted by proxy.

With its majority, the government claims to want to fight forced marriage outside of Canada. Okay, that is great. As I said, I think it is an appalling practice that has no place in Canada or anywhere else. However, if the government really intends to prevent forced marriages, why is it attacking proxy marriages? Once again, the government is attacking a problem that does not even exist with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop. I am quite sure that this document will eventually be added to the endless list of government laws and motions that serve no purpose. There are three reasons for that.

First, the quantitative scope of this phenomenon is extremely limited. I will quote the director general of the immigration branch:

Forced marriages are something...difficult to quantify. The known incidence of forced marriages in the immigration system is quite small, and the instances tend to be anecdotal.

This motion is not supported by any credible data or statistics. Second, this motion establishes a systematic correlation between forced marriage and proxy marriage. Many researchers and workers on the ground have told us that has absolutely no basis in fact.

Ms. Korteweg, a professor of sociology at the University of Toronto, told the committee that the problems of forced marriage cannot be addressed through this motion and that forced marriages are not caused by marriage by proxy.

Basically, this motion would prohibit something that is actually already prohibited. Forced marriages are already prohibited in Canada, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations already require Citizenship and Immigration Canada to carry out thorough investigations into spousal sponsorships to verify the sincerity of marriages.

To sum up, this motion is not based on any concrete data or statistics and it condemns a non-existent practice that is already prohibited. However, not only is this motion useless, it is actually harmful on many levels.

Despite all the witnesses heard in committee, the Conservatives are using the victims of forced marriage as a pretext for further limiting spousal sponsorships.

This motion confuses facts that have nothing to do with condemning forced marriages. It heaps shame on communities whose culture and traditions are different from our own, even though they don't practice forced marriage.

This motion is problematic because it amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations yet again. I must point out that the current government has amended these regulations roughly every three months since 2008.

The best way to deal with forced marriages in Canada is to give CIC officers the necessary resources to conduct investigations. These are lengthy and costly investigations that require patience, time and effort. There is no guarantee that they will protect against every case of fraud, but every case of fraud will go undetected without them.

However, how are these officers supposed to work with the requisite equanimity when the government cuts budgets at every turn and changes the regulations every three months? The government is well aware of the adverse effects of its constant tinkering, but it does not care. It prefers to indulge in its penchant for making policy based on back-page stories and then denounce the misfortunes born of its own mismanagement.

We, the members of the NDP, are responsible people. We are getting ready to form the first social democratic government in Canada, and that is why we have clear, concrete proposals on this issue.

Before I list those proposals, I wish to remind the House that we firmly believe that a marriage must be entered into with the free and full consent of both parties. It is unacceptable that a practice as barbaric as forced marriage could take place in a country like Canada. That is why the NDP is calling on the government to invest the material and human resources needed to hear spousal sponsorship applications under the right conditions.

We are also formulating three proposals to effectively strengthen protection for women in our immigration system. The government should start by acknowledging that violence against women goes well beyond forced marriage.

We are also asking that a procedure be put in place to inform potential partners of their legal rights before they arrive in Canada—when they go to the Canadian consulate to ask for their immigration documents, for example.

We believe that the concept of conditional permanent residence should be eliminated for sponsored spouses. Regardless of the intention behind this measure, the practice is disastrous. Although there are exceptions in cases of violence, witnesses told us that this conditional permanent residence endangers the lives of sponsored women who suffer abuse because they prefer to stay quiet for two years rather than running the risk of losing their permanent residence.

That is the essence of our immigration policy: no delusional thinking, no tolerance for outdated practices such as forced marriage, but understanding and help for those who need it.

This motion creates confusion, fuels prejudice and breeds mistrust. Consequently, I will not support it.

Persons with Disabilities December 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today is the 23rd International Day of Disabled Persons. One in six Canadians live with a disability and they are three times more likely to live in poverty. Canada has signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, yet the government has done nothing to fulfill its obligations.

Why is the government making cuts to affordable housing and door-to-door mail delivery instead of putting a plan in place to respond to the needs of those living with a disability?

Social Development December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, people with terminal cancer, people who have had organ transplants, people with severe depression and people who are in debt are among the 14,000 Canadians who are still waiting for their case to be heard by the Social Security Tribunal, which has an ever-growing backlog.

Does the minister think it is acceptable that thousands of Canadians have been waiting for years to get the disability benefits to which they are entitled? What is he going to do to rectify the situation?

Business of Supply November 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is requesting that the division be deferred until Monday, December 1, 2014, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.