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House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not mind if the finance minister would like to maybe finish his time, but there are House rules about the splitting of time particularly if the member does not give notice at the beginning of the speech. The Chair has occasionally asked during the middle of the speech, but after we have had questions and comments, I believe the rule is clear. If you could please check with the table, I believe the time for that slot has expired.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, I think we could solve the dilemma here by just being collegial, as we like to be in a minority Parliament. I would suggest that you simply ask for unanimous consent that the request to share the time be granted.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. Minister of Finance have the unanimous consent of the House to share his time?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to speak in support of the 2007 Speech from the Throne. From the moment the speech started, I knew that it was a defining moment for not only our government, but also all Canadians. And I was not disappointed with the vision this government has for Canada's future.

Canadians have every reason to be proud of their country and of what we have accomplished. We have worked together to build a nation that serves as model for the rest of the world. Advantage Canada, our government's long-term economic plan, is based on sound fiscal management. Canadians now want a government that will help them build on this heritage, a government that sets clear objectives and that gets real results.

To meet those expectations, our government set out in the Speech from the Throne, its vision of a Canada based on the following five priorities: strengthening Canada’s sovereignty and place in the world; strengthening the federation and our democratic institutions; providing effective economic leadership for a prosperous future; tackling crime and strengthening the security of Canadians; improving the environment and the health of Canadians. In the final analysis, Canadians want a government that will be accountable for its actions and their results. They want a government that gives priority to Canadians and their families.

Today, Canadians are holding on to a bigger share of their income because we have reduced taxes, including income taxes. Families have a real choice in terms of day care thanks to the universal child care benefit. Canadians can now count on a government that is determined to help them receive the medical care they need more quickly, and a government that is tackling crime and strengthening the security of our cities.

All of these matters are of great importance to Canadians. That is why they elected our government: to improve conditions for them and their families. Canadians want a government that gets concrete results. Thanks to the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister, our government is getting those results. The economic and fiscal update this fall will spell out our progress toward achieving those objectives.

Let us stop for a moment to reflect on some of the initiatives launched by our government to show how we are investing in our families. In terms of taxation, for example, we have delivered or announced tax reductions amounting to more than $41 billion over three years for Canadian companies and individuals. The family is the basic unit of our society and our government will continue to support our families and help them to achieve their dreams of a better and more secure future.

One of the first measures taken by our government in its first budget was to honour our promise to reduce the GST. We immediately reduced it to 6%, which was an important step because it really was a reduction with general application. It affects all Canadians, whether individuals or families. In the Speech from the Throne last Tuesday, the government announced that it will deliver the second part of its election promise and will reduce the GST to 5%. Our government keeps its promises.

In the 2006 budget, we also introduced the universal child care benefit to provide support for families.

This plan is giving families the resources to make the choices that will enable them to balance work and family as they see fit, regardless of where they live, their particular circumstances or their preferences.

With Advantage Canada, the government has committed to working with the provinces and territories to do away with the social security trap by implementing the working income tax benefit to make work more profitable for low- and middle-income Canadians.

The working income tax benefit is designed to make work more lucrative and attractive for approximately 1.2 million Canadians who are already part of the workforce and to encourage them to keep working. Moreover, we expect that the working income tax benefit will encourage about 60,000 more people to join the workforce.

In Budget 2007, the government followed up on the group's recommendations by announcing a new registered disability savings plan to help parents save money to ensure the financial security of their severely disabled children. This plan, the first of its kind in Canada, will ensure the financial security of disabled children, improve their quality of life, and bring peace of mind to their parents.

The tax fairness plan allows pension income splitting for pensioners. This initiative will give families a greater incentive to save and invest their money to ensure their financial independence following retirement.

As I said earlier, our government will continue to invest in our families and our future. As we said in the Speech from the Throne, we are committed to helping those who want to escape the hardships of homelessness and poverty. As you know, the new homelessness partnering strategy came into effect on April 1, 2007. The strategy's $269.9 million over two years will promote new structures and support measures to help the homeless and people at risk create a better, safer future for themselves.

We have accomplished great things, but we still have a lot to do. Our government believes that families, individuals and businesses are still paying too much tax.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to my hon. colleague's speech. I know he is the member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière in Quebec, a region that was affected by the major closures in the manufacturing industry. He is familiar with the reality facing older workers in the Montmagny region, where Whirlpool and other textile companies have closed.

When we passed the first Speech from the Throne after the election, his party accepted one of the Bloc's amendments, which targeted an assistance program for older workers. Last year, in the latest budget, a committee was created in order to eventually establish an income security program for older workers, to help them make it to their retirement. This time, however, there was no mention of this issue in the throne speech.

Some people have been waiting for this program since the last election, for the past year and a half. On many occasions, his colleagues have said that we will eventually see something. In the meantime, people do not have the minimum income they need to get by until their old age pension. Couples are being torn apart and, sadly, some people have even committed suicide.

Can the member explain to me why his government has not shown enough sensitivity to announce, once and for all, an assistance program for older workers? This is a matter of respect for the dignity of these workers who have been supporting their families for the past 30 or 35 years by working for the same company, but who are now forced to rely on social assistance, because of his government's insensitivity.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I take my dear colleague's question as a show of support. Our government is aware of all the problems that can be faced by older workers and we are concerned.

We have already adopted important measures in order to create advantages. At present, Canadians want a government that will help them build on this heritage, a government that will set clear objectives and obtain tangible results.

To meet these expectations, our government announced, in the throne speech, its vision for Canada based on the following five major priorities: strengthening Canada's sovereignty and place in the world, strengthening the federation and our democratic institutions, providing economic leadership for a prosperous future, tackling crime and strengthening the security of Canadians and improving the environment and the health of Canadians.

In the end, Canadians want a government that is proud of its actions and its results.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, with regard to tax reductions and decreasing the GST by 1%, these reductions only continue to diminish the government's capacity to invest in measures to resolve the social imbalance and make strategic investments in the economy.

Given the current budget surpluses, has the time not come to adopt a balanced approach and to reinvest in our future?

The people of my riding have given me a very clear message to deliver to Ottawa. They are demanding that the government reinvest in its citizens, in its communities, and in more affordable education and housing. There are still 1.6 million children living in poverty in Canada.

Is it not time to act?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question, because the measure to reduce the GST from 7% to 6% and from 6% to 5% is the most practical way to help Canada's poorest families. Often, these families pay no tax. As well, our budget included an incentive to help low-income families stay in the workforce.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

I am happy to speak about the throne speech today as my party's critic on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. I would like to talk mainly about the situation in the forestry industry. In this throne speech, the Conservative government completely ignores the crisis the forestry industry is going through.

In the throne speech, the government only briefly mentions the challenges facing an industry that has existed for more than a century in Quebec, perhaps because the crisis does not affect Alberta's interests. In Quebec, the whole economy is being affected by the problems in the forestry industry. Entire regions are suffering because of job losses, unemployment and plant closures.

In my riding, Trois-Rivières, the Kruger paper mill had to close temporarily, laying off 1,000 workers. Many plants north of La Tuque, in Saint-Michel-des-Saints and elsewhere have also been affected. These plants cannot count on the federal government to address the problem, which requires a reorganization of the regional economy.

One of the non-negotiable demands the Bloc Québécois made as a condition of its support for the throne speech was that the federal government introduce tax measures to support the regions of Quebec affected by the forestry crisis.

This means that the federal government will have to fix some of the mistakes it has made. We all remember its refusal to help the forest industry throughout the entire softwood lumber dispute and the major effects this had that are still being felt today. An economic upswing in many parts of Quebec has long been hampered by Ottawa’s refusal to act. The Bloc Québécois demands an end to this Conservative ideology of laissez-faire. The Conservative government must realize the urgency of the situation, act responsibly, and take the necessary action to turn the situation around.

The Bloc Québécois has insisted on a clear mention in the Speech from the Throne of fiscal measures to help the regions affected by the crisis in the forest industry. However, there are no specific measures in this speech to help workers, companies and regions affected by this crisis. Although the government says it is very concerned, the Prime Minister has not provided any solutions or taken any steps to help the industry recover, not to mention any programs to help workers.

The government even has the crust to boast about what it has done to support the industry and the people working in it. There is no truth to any of it. The only thing the government has done is cut the community assistance programs and leave the workers who lost their jobs at the mercy of the crisis. The only promise in this speech is that the government will continue doing nothing to offset the effects of the crisis in the forest industry.

We in the Bloc have proposed a number of measures. One of them, for example, is to bring back the fund to diversify forest economies that was eliminated by the Conservatives, although the management of this fund would be turned over to local stakeholders. The Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec did away with this fund on the excuse that it was not being used properly.

Instead of relaxing Ottawa’s inappropriate and bureaucratic criteria, decentralizing the program, and making the regions responsible for managing it in accordance with their own needs, the minister simply eliminated the program, thereby depriving the regions that needed it most in order to diversify their economies. Like a lot of federal programs, this fund was more suited to meeting Ottawa’s objectives than the real needs of the regions affected by the crisis.

For these reasons, the Bloc Québécois wants the fund brought back, although the management of it should be turned over to local stakeholders. It is local people, as we have always said, who know what is needed. They are best placed to determine who needs this fund, why they need it, and how to get the regions out of the economic quagmire in which they find themselves.

The second measure would set up a loan and loan-guarantee program to help finance investment in production equipment. There is nothing about this in the Speech from the Throne. The federal government has done nothing to help the industry caught up in the softwood lumber crisis.

The Bloc Québécois has been constantly asking the government for many years—

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I must interrupt the hon. member for Trois-Rivières. She will be able to resume her speech later for five minutes in order to finish it.

It is time now for statements by members. The hon. member for Tobique—Mactaquac has the floor.

Young Leaders in Rural Canada AwardsStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, today, the Secretary of State (Agriculture) announced the recipients of the Young Leaders in Rural Canada Awards.

The winner of the leadership award for outstanding contribution to a rural community is Meghan Detheridge of Sydney, Nova Scotia, who raised over $200,000 for a local world-class skateboard park.

The winner of the partnership award for developing and emphasizing community collaboration, is one of my constituents, François St-Amand, from St. Andrews, New Brunswick, who worked hard to make the school a part of the community and helped build a local park, open a free child care centre and develop an after-school program.

It is inspiring to have such motivated individuals who are committed to improving the lives of rural citizens and I am pleased to stand here today to recognize the achievement of these fine young Canadians. These young people, like our government, believe in getting things done for rural Canadians. I congratulate them and say bravo.

Eunice GraysonStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to pay tribute to Eunice Grayson, an extraordinary volunteer, visionary and community leader. Sadly, last week Eunice left us, passing away peacefully at her home.

In our community, Eunice was best known for pioneering the Learning Enrichment Foundation. As the LEF's founding executive director, Eunice worked tirelessly to ensure that new and less fortunate members of our community had access to job training, language classes, child care, skills improvement and, above all, hope.

Today, the Learning Enrichment Foundation is a nationally recognized leader in the holistic approach to community economic development.

Eunice was a kind and caring soul, a citizen I was proud to represent in this House and a lady I was fortunate enough to count as a friend.

Eunice was born with the maiden name Service, a most fitting name for she gave so much of herself for the benefit of the less fortunate in our community. Her service, her sacrifice and her name will be fondly remembered in York South—Weston.

I know the hon. members of this House will join me in celebrating the remarkable life of Eunice and extending condolences to her family on her passing.

MusiCan AwardStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 13, Bernard Hébert, a music teacher at École polyvalente Nicolas-Gatineau, was presented with the MusiCan Teacher of the Year Award by Céline Dion in Las Vegas. Mr. Hébert is the first francophone teacher to receive this award.

The award came as no surprise to the administrators at École polyvalente Nicolas-Gatineau. They were the ones who nominated Mr. Hébert to MusiCan last year in recognition of his 32 years teaching music.

The mission of MusiCan, which was created by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, is to ensure that young people have access to a comprehensive music program through their school system.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I would like to congratulate Bernard Hébert for this award, which recognizes the passion for teaching music that he maintains to this day.

Lord Selkirk Boy Scout Pipe BandStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I recently attended the 50th anniversary reunion of Winnipeg's Lord Selkirk Boy Scout Pipe Band. It was a great event but, as an alumni, the best part was the fact that the founding pipe major and instructor, Pipe Major Robert Fraser, was on hand to help us celebrate.

Bob Fraser, originally from Arbroath, Scotland, is still an instructor with the band at 85 years of age and has taught literally hundreds of boys over the years to play the great highland bagpipe, all without any fee ever being charged because, in his view, passing on a culture is something one does for the sheer joy of it.

Bob Fraser also passes on to his students the example of his patience, good humour and all around gentlemanly way of being.

I congratulate the band but, even more so, I send a great big thanks to Bob Fraser. Lang may his lum reek.

Canadian Fertilizer InstituteStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to welcome members of the Canadian Fertilizer Institute as they gather in Ottawa this week.

This industry employs some 12,000 people and contributes $7 billion a year to Canada's economy. We provide 12% of the world's fertilizer materials and export to more than 50 countries.

The fertilizer industry helps farmers provide safe and nutritious food to the world's growing population. Fertilizers have enabled farmers to triple crop production in the past four decades.

The industry can also take pride in its environmental record by reducing emission levels 10% while it increased total production by 39% since 1993. Increasing fertilizer use means more carbon dioxide is taken from the atmosphere by plant growth.

Surely, the Canadian fertilizer industry rates among the most efficient in the world.

I encourage all my colleagues to learn more about this essential industry while Ottawa is honoured to host the Canadian Fertilizer Institute.

York Regional PoliceStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently the York Regional Police received the Webber Seavey Award for Quality in Law Enforcement by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

York Regional Police were recognized for their proactive approach in tackling concerns about youth and gang crime. The police agency partnered with community groups, parent associations, faith groups and athletic leagues to create an anti-gang strategy. Working with the community, York Regional Police have implemented new youth programs, offered free transportation to community centres and engaged young police officers in youth mentoring programs. Through this strategy, York Regional Police have significantly reduced the street level crime associated with youth.

I congratulate Chief Armand La Barge and the front line officers for their outstanding leadership.The efforts of the York Regional Police are a model for police agencies across Canada and around the world and demonstrate that the first step in the battle against crime is prevention.

AgricultureStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute the valiant efforts that Canada's farmers put forth every day to produce the best, healthiest food in the world.

Canadian agriculture and agri-food drives 8.2% of our GDP, employs about two million Canadians and accounts for $28 billion of our international trade. That is why agriculture is a priority for this government. Through measures in budget 2006 and budget 2007, a total of $4.5 billion in new funding is flowing to the agricultural sector.

Our government is listening to farmers and is taking steps to respond to their concerns.

This government will continue to put farmers first by working toward a stronger, more vibrant farm gate and by helping the sector capture some of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

Forestry IndustryStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, even though the forestry crisis plaguing the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region and a number of other regions in Quebec is far from being resolved, the Conservative government is boasting about its achievements.

Several thousand jobs have now been lost, mainly because of this government's inertia. When the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec cut $50 million from the diversification fund that would have helped regions affected by the forestry crisis, he exacerbated the decline of the industry.

The Bloc Québécois has proposed real solutions to help the industry, such as bringing back a fund to diversify the forestry economy, a loan program for investment in production material, a tax credit to promote business development and an income support program for older workers.

Once again, the Conservative government's inertia is making it clear that the Bloc Québécois has an essential role to play here.

A Capital ExperienceStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a special group of high school students here today. They are participating in a program I call a “Capital Experience”. Each October, two student leaders from each of the seven high schools in my riding come to Ottawa for three days to learn about career opportunities in public life.

They have visited Parliament, the Korean Embassy, Amnesty International, the Department of Foreign Affairs, CHUM studios, the Prime Minister's Office, the Press Gallery and SUMMA Strategies.

I wish to thank those who shared their time with these students. I also thank the businesses and service clubs who sponsored them.

Today I welcome to Parliament: Cathryn Woodrow and Mac Adams from Fenelon Falls; Kassy Smith and Dylan Robichaud from St. Thomas Aquinas; Bethany Snelgrove and William Prentesco from Haliburton; Amanda Franco-Brooks and Monique Elliot from Brock; Rebecca Reeds and Meaghan Williams from I.E. Weldon; Amber Flynn and Nathan Dinnick from Crestwood; and Andrea Hawkridge from Lakefield.

I ask my colleagues to join me in wishing these young people seated in the gallery today all the best as they make decisions regarding their future careers.

Knights of ColumbusStatements by Members

October 23rd, 2007 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year, the Knights of Columbus are celebrating their 125th anniversary. At the same time, Aylmer Council 5281 of the Knights of Columbus is marking its 45th anniversary and Saint-Jean-Bosco Council 12189 in Hull is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

I am pleased to commend the contributions made by the Knights of Columbus to the greater human family, and particularly to the Hull-Aylmer area.

Humbly and unassumingly, the Knights of Columbus perform acts of great generosity. They epitomize respect, dignity and selflessness through their daily activities.

The Knights of Columbus fulfill their commitment to the community brilliantly, and provide help and support to so many of their fellow citizens. They are carrying on a long tradition of charitable work and activities.

The members are passing on an important lesson of brotherhood through the ages. I would like to express my warmest thanks to all Knights of Columbus members.

Speech from the ThroneStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne sets our government's directions for the new session and reflects the concerns of the Quebec nation, including the desire to put a stop to crime and make communities safer.

Bill C-2, which tackles violent crime, includes measures that were examined in depth during the last session: minimum sentences for offences involving firearms; raising the age of consent from 14 to 16; declaration of dangerous offenders; reverse onus in cases of firearm-related offences; and drug-impaired driving.

Why is the Bloc planning to vote against these measures? Luckily, the Bloc does nothing but talk and cannot come to power. It would seem the Bloc would protect criminals rather than honest people.

Corporate Tax CutsStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, $60 billion is a very stark figure. It is a lot of money. That sum, $60 billion, has been given in corporate tax cuts to huge corporations, like big banks, since 2000.

I fail to understand why banks that made $19 billion in profits last year will get even more tax breaks according to the Conservatives' throne speech. In all, by 2011 there will be a 10 point drop in the federal corporate tax rate since 2001.

The Liberals and Conservatives give tax breaks to the richest Canadians, but there is nothing for affordable child care. There is nothing to hire more nurses and doctors. There is nothing to invest in our cities, our artists and to improve our public transit.

Just for this year without the big corporate tax cuts, Canada would have had $12.7 billion to invest in ordinary Canadians. To give even more corporate tax cuts after the billions in tax giveaways is insulting to the two-thirds of Canadians who say they are not benefiting from the economic growth. It is wrong and it is unfair.

Fisheries and OceansStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Liberal Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans seems to be missing the point when it comes to trawlers and quotas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He said yesterday about the quotas, “whether they catch it in a dory or in the Queen Mary, it does not make any difference”.

The current uproar in P.E.I. is not related to the quotas. Everybody knows the quotas have not been changed. The uproar is over the use of this specific type of fishing gear which has proven destructive to stocks in other areas.

The minister knows full well that this type of gear has never been used in the gulf for this very reason. Local fishermen are concerned about the safety of the herring and bycatch stocks and have questioned the research methods used by DFO to estimate the health of the stocks.

Until we can be assured that midwater trawlers will not decimate the herring industry, it is best to err on the side of caution, which is what DFO is supposed to do.

If the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans thinks that jigging from a dory is no different from dragging a net the size of five football fields through the ocean, he is obviously very dismissive of the valid concerns of people who make their livings from the sea.

Louise Robert Beaudin and Marie-Josée CloutierStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise today in this House to acknowledge the remarkable work of a farmer in my riding. Louise Robert Beaudin was named “woman farmer of the year” at the 11th annual Val-Jean farm women's union gala on October 6.

Louise Robert Beaudin is the sole proprietor of L.R.B, a large-scale farm in Saint-Jacques-le-Mineur, and she manages the fields, the finances, the land clearing and a number of other jobs. Louise is passionate about farming and she has my deep admiration and sincere congratulations.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Marie-Josée Cloutier on winning the scholarship for excellence in training at the same gala.

These two exceptional women represented the region of Val-Jean at the Saturne gala of the Fédération des agricultrices du Québec on October 20.