Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was justice.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Ahuntsic (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2008, with 39% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget February 24th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to the comments made by the hon. member opposite, and I find it strange that the remarks are always the same. Regardless of the issue discussed in this House, the observations made by the hon. members opposite never change. They are always making the same comments and every government measure is invariably taken at the expense of the poor and the unemployed. It is clear to me that they have not read the budget and I will simply give you an example to illustrate my point. As regards unemployment insurance, we clearly stated that women with children are going to benefit from the new system to be put in place. And let us not forget that the government also intends to bring in other changes. Of course, it is in their interest to talk about the unemployed and the poor and to mislead the media to get their message across.

In Montreal's newspapers, it was mentioned that senior citizens would lose their pension. I can tell you that I received calls at my office, because people read this inaccurate information released by the opposition, to the effect that the elderly, regardless of their income, would lose their pension, which is not true.

Also, the scenario always being presented by the opposition is not realistic. Again, they did not look at the real figures in the budget and at what we really want to achieve. We do talk about jobs, yes we do. Let us not forget job creation. To what extent will we be able to create these jobs? It will be to the extent that we help small businesses in Quebec, including in Montreal where my riding is and which I know well, because they create jobs.

A few years ago, the city of Montreal conducted a study which showed that small and medium-size businesses were the ones creating jobs. We will help those businesses. We will provide them with the means to create jobs for the poor, as the members opposite keep saying.

Given the narrow vision of the opposition, and given that it keeps saying the same things, I would like to know why these separatists-after all this is their real name-insist on continually misleading Quebecers and not telling them the truth.

National Heritage Day February 21st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address my colleagues in the House on the occasion of National Heritage Day.

The diversity of our country and of its people is expressed in many ways and makes us unique within the community of nations.

Our wealth of cultures, languages and traditions enrich the everyday lives of all Canadians.


National Heritage Day is an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect upon the meaning and richness of their heritage.

On this Heritage Day Canadians should take this opportunity to remember with pride the contributions of those who have helped to form this great land, appreciate and share the diversity in which our heritage is expressed, strengthen and celebrate the multicultural fabric of Canada.

We in this House have much to celebrate since we are very much an example of that multicultural fabric.

Tribute To Senator Marcel Prud'Homme February 10th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute to a man who has devoted 30 years of his life to his country, to his constituents and to French Canadians throughout Canada. Senator Marcel Prud'homme was elected for the first time in 1964 in the riding of Saint-Denis, where his family has lived for many generations. He has won the friendship, respect and devotion of every man and woman in my riding. He has fought for the rights and freedoms of the most disadvantaged people in the world.

He has helped bring together the French Canadian majority and the various cultural communities and new Canadians. If the people of Saint-Denis live in peace and harmony today, it is thanks to him. Needless to say, I am honoured to follow in the footsteps of such a distinguished man, especially since he was the first person to encourage me to pursue a career in politics.

I invite all my colleagues to join me in congratulating the hon. senator Marcel Prud'homme on his thirtieth year in Parliament.

I ask my colleagues to join me in wishing Senator Marcel Prud'homme many more years of service to the Quebec and Canadian people.

The International Year Of The Family February 4th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, as an MP and the mother of two daughters, Athena and Vasilike, who are here today, I would like to draw the House's attention, as many members have done already, to the International Year of the Family.

It is a very significant event and I would encourage all members to organize events in their ridings to promote the UN efforts in favour of the family unit. Contrary to a commonly held belief, regardless of its make-up, the family is alive and well. It remains the corner-stone of society.

If we are here today, it is thanks to our families' efforts and sacrifices. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family for its support: my father Ioannis, my mother Vasilike, my sister Anastasia, my brother Bill, and last but not least, my husband, Constantinos Geropapas.

I call upon my colleagues to do their part in organizing events like single parent family support groups, family picnics and other activities to ensure that the International Year of the Family is celebrated throughout our country.

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

As a Quebecer and as a member of a community that is not one of the country's two founding communities, I get the feeling from the hon. member that he thinks the people on this side of the House-and let us not forget that we are all well off-that we come from a segment of society that does not understand the problems of the less fortunate. I was rather insulted by what he said because I believe that the Liberal Party of Canada and its leader tried to field candidates who represented all segments, races, languages and economic levels of our society. When our party speaks, it does so not only on behalf of the wealthy. It speaks for everyone.

Besides, who said anything about cuts? We have not yet made any decisions about cuts in this House. The Minister of Human Resources Development has yet to make any announcements about cuts. Instead, he has welcomed a debate on this issue. He has asked members to think about the future of the services provided here in Canada. The hon. member has already decided that we are going to make cuts, but we have not yet decided anything of the sort. We are in the process of holding consultations. We have not yet made any decisions. We want to consult all Canadians, not just one group or one province, but all Canadians. Then we will make our decisions.

We are not going to reduce pensions. If the hon. member had taken the time to read the Liberal Party's red book, he would have seen that we stated clearly that we would not cut pensions or target the most disadvantaged members of our society.

Social Security System February 2nd, 1994

Madam Speaker, I listened very attentively to the remarks of the hon. member opposite, and I was somewhat surprised. Surprised because the words never change. We are always covering the same ground in this debate.

I want to ask the hon. member who gave him the right to say that only his party speaks for the most disadvantaged in society? His party represents only a portion of this country. The Liberal

Party of Canada represents all Canadians and all of the disadvantaged people in this country.

Foreign Affairs January 25th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, this being my first speech in the House, I would like to start by congratulating you on your appointment to the chair. I would also like to thank my constituents of Saint-Denis for giving me their support. I am very proud as a Canadian and Quebecer of Greek origin-the first woman of Greek origin to be elected to this House-to be representing them here, today.

The riding of Saint-Denis is in many ways a microcosm of what Canada is today. With cultural communities representing every corner of the globe, the issue of peacemaking or peacekeeping is of great concern to my constituents and the reason that I rise before you today.

I am convinced that the Canadian peacekeepers presently in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, and especially in Bosnia, should not be withdrawn.

Canada has a very important role to play in resolving this conflict. To pull out now would be abandoning our responsibility to the international community and moreover abandoning our ideals as a nation which pioneered the concept of peacekeeping. We have come a long way from the failure of the League of Nations in preventing global conflict to the far more successful formula for peacekeeping established in the United Nations. Crises will exist but we must never give up searching for solutions to prevent conflict.

With its long and distinguished tradition of peacekeeping, Canada has a moral responsibility to help bring about a solution by easing the level of tension and mistrust that has plagued the former Yugoslavia. No enemies are irreconcilable if they can learn to know and respect each other.

It is a well known fact that the United Nations peacekeeping operations are in serious trouble in some places, the former Yugoslavia and Somalia in particular. However, we can say that, on the whole, peacekeeping operations have had a positive effect. For example, while Mogadishu remains tense and unstable, the rest of Somalia is demonstrating a tremendous recovery capacity. Is it not marvellous to realize that, thanks to the United Nations peacekeeping operation, Somalis are no longer dying of starvation? And what about the remarkable success in Cambodia? That country went through a long and traumatic period, but can now look forward to a better future.

As I mentioned, there are several difficulties that UN peacekeepers and especially our own troops are encountering in the former Yugoslavia. Perseverance, not withdrawal will lead to a positive outcome, the outcome that we have been working toward for nearly two years.

Our peacekeepers are now playing an essential role, preventing bloodbaths. There would no doubt have been many more civilian casualties had it not been for them. To pull them out at this time would trigger an escalation of violence.

Besides, in assessing the value of our peacekeeping action, we will have to be careful not to trigger hostilities which would only get our troops bogged down in that conflict.

The action in December of the four European union states which established diplomatic relations with the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia have increased the possibility of yet another outbreak of violence in the Balkans. It is the same premature recognition of Bosnia-Hercegovina that contributed

to its political disintegration and to the armed conflict that continues to this day.

Let us be cautious in extending diplomatic relations so quickly lest we find ourselves once again in the same difficult position. We must avoid having to stretch our forces any further in the former Yugoslavia.

The European union continues to lack a coherent and unified approach to solving the conflict in the Balkans. Canada must rise above this and it will not be done by pulling out our troops at this very crucial time.

Canada is renewing its support for the UN and the CSCE. Our country is committed to strengthening the North Atlantic Alliance, which plays such an important part in peacekeeping operations.

NATO was created in order to counter the very real threats which the Soviet Union under Stalin was making against western Europe. Since those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them, let us not abandon too quickly this excellent instrument which has served us so well over more than four decades. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO must assume a new role in the international forum and Canada has an integral part in helping to define what that role is.

NATO's primary role must remain deterrence; not aggression, but deterrence. NATO is also indispensable in terms of providing logistic support for peacekeeping and humanitarian actions.

Last but not least, NATO is the only existing institution which is capable of receiving most east European states with proper status and a tested framework for regional collective security.

The real issue as far as NATO is concerned is not to decide whether or not it is not relevant any more, a thing of the past, but rather what shape to give it now. That is what we must examine in the general context of peacekeeping operations.

Several important lessons can be learned from the recent past and applied to our peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia. First, distinguish where one can be useful and where one cannot. It is sometimes better to limit one's intervention to the strict minimum humanitarian intervention when one knows that the adversaries are not amenable to any form of wisdom. In the case of Bosnia it is our duty to protect and help the innocent victims and minimize the bloodshed as much as possible.

Second, we must be patient. Some conflicts cannot be solved in weeks or even years. They take decades of patient effort to bring the opponents closer and for them to learn to respect each other.

Third, minimize effectiveness under a clear leadership and with precise objectives in mind. Compare the effectiveness of the coalition forces in the Gulf war with the irresolution and inefficiencies of the situation in Bosnia.

Fourth, play by the rules of collective security. National pride or prejudice cannot be allowed to have priority over the necessities of an efficient security system. The French, Germans and British are now bitterly regretting their haste and their differences and their botched attempts to keep peace in the former Yugoslavia.

Fifth, better safe than sorry. The proliferation of nuclear technologies and know-how must be a constant reminder of the troubling fact that someday prevention may be the only thing keeping us from a nuclear apocalypse happening in our own backyard.

The world today is a very different place from five years ago. Who would have believed in January 1989 that the Berlin wall would come tumbling down and soon after that the Soviet empire. Likewise that Israel would be talking peace with the PLO or that there would be multiracial elections in South Africa.

As the Governor General said in the throne speech last week our hopes for global peace have been raised and, in many places, shattered. In some countries today democracy is under stress, its future uncertain.

I was born in Greece, the cradle of democracy. My parents emigrated to Canada because of its reputation as a country where democracy is very highly respected. It is in this tradition that Canadians today continue their unwavering commitment to peacekeeping.

It is up to Canada to play a responsible role in seeing the resolution of this conflict. Pulling out our Canadian troops will not solve this conflict, but greater concessions among the international community and organizations like the UN and NATO will.

We will have to keep doing our share to ensure that, once the conflicts have been resolved, our peacekeepers can get their due share of the credit for restoring peace in this troubled area.