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

Quarantine Act May 5th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to know that you have been very vigilant and quick in your decision so we can continue with this excellent piece of legislation. I move:

That this question be now put.

Quarantine Act May 5th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is truly a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-12 today.

I have to say right off I find it deplorable that we have a fairly important piece of legislation in public health terms and, because of the official opposition, are obliged to play very political and partisan games. It is unfortunate because the public has long been awaiting a review of such a bill, which is very relevant, as all my colleagues in this House have already said.

I remember that when the former opposition party was known as the Reform Party and it came to the House, it came to do things differently. Well, we have seen how it does things differently in terms of blocking government legislation and also playing very partisan political games in order to stall.

Bill C-12 is an act to prevent the introduction and spread of a communicable disease. It comes to us from the other chamber and it speaks about migration health and its relationship to the rapid spread of disease in today's globalized world. As other speakers before me have said, we do live in a global community where the spread of disease can happen very rapidly.

With advances in technology and rapid air travel, which is now a common practice in the daily lives of individuals replacing the days of long voyages on ships, this new age of jet travel is paving the way for increased population mobility and subsequently accelerated rates in the spread of disease on both the domestic and international fronts.

From a pan-Canadian perspective, migration health and its related consequences pose a threat to the health and safety of all Canadians. A serious communicable disease can now spread to any part of the globe in less than 24 hours, which is less time than the average incubation period for most diseases. We know this firsthand from our recent experience, and as other speakers have said on this side of the House, through SARS.

This means a person incubating an infectious disease can board a plane, travel 12,000 miles, pass unnoticed through customs with no visible signs of illness, take several domestic carriers to their final destination in Canada and still not develop symptoms for several days, thus infecting many other people in their journey before the conditions becomes detected. This was the case in terms of SARS.

The concept of superspreading events further illustrates the magnitude of concern of public health experts. This concept has been used to describe situations in which a single person has directly infected a large number of other people. For example, 103 of the first 210 probable cases to be reported in the Singapore SARS epidemic were infected by just five sources.

This new migration health reality is becoming a cross-border issue of growing importance with numerous ramifications for public health, including implications to the social and economic fibre of our society. Further, the international community remains at risk if the appropriate measures are not administered to stem the spread of disease.

With the looming threat of an influenza pandemic, the impact to the global world may be catastrophic. The nature of this outbreak has the potential to be exponentially worse than SARS in its capacity to cause human suffering. In Canada alone, it is estimated that 5 to 10 million people could become clinically ill.

Once inside Canada, this public health emergency will place enormous strain on our front line workers and the local delivery of health care services. Economic and social upheaval will ensue as provinces and territories are stretched beyond their jurisdictional capacity.

While the principle of uncertainty prevails in global health care, officials do know that economic and psychosocial upheaval is contingent on how virulent the virus is, how rapidly it spreads from one person to another, the capacity for early detection, and how effective and available preventive and control measures prove to be.

The challenge is containment. How do we keep this confined to a small group, which was not the case as we know with the SARS epidemic? Mitigating the threat at hand will depend on vigilant border control activities, often the first line of defence in public health.

It will also rely on the collaborative efforts from cross-jurisdictional partners to stop the spread of disease, including the hospital isolation of infected people, voluntary home quarantine of close contacts, and the quarantine of anyone potentially exposed.

To manage emerging and re-emerging public health threats, legislative measures need to be considered across all levels of government. There is an urgent need for updated legislation to mitigate the heightened risk of global disease transmission and support modern public health practices in times of crisis. Legal preparedness remains a critical component when managing migration health related consequences.

In his report on Canada's recent experiences with SARS, Dr. Naylor highlighted the limitations of Canada's current quarantine legislation and health surveillance. The report recommended that Canada's governments seek to harmonize federal, provincial and territorial public health legislation with specific attention to health emergencies.

To date, existing federal powers under the Quarantine Act are limited in scope and do not reflect the changing face of emergency preparedness and response in the 21st century.

The Quarantine Act prevents the importation and spread of a communicable disease at points of entry. However, it does not address the domestic spread of an infectious disease once inside Canada.

The modernization of public health protection legislation so that it reflects today's realities is an ongoing Government of Canada objective, most recently demonstrated by the creation of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the appointment of the first Chief Public Health Officer last fall, and the commitment to support the work of the agency as found in this year's budget.

Another important step is Bill C-12, the modernization of the Quarantine Act. The Quarantine Act was created in 1872. As we know, much has changed in the last 133 years, including the mode of disease transmission. Problems in the current act include many outdated and redundant provisions, and the lack of harmonization with proposed revisions to the international health regulations.

Further, an order in council is required to amend the schedule of listed diseases, which hinders the ability of the minister to act--

Quarantine Act May 5th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that because I think it is a very important issue in the context of, as I said, examples at which we have looked. Especially during the crisis of SARS, there were questions about employees who were in quarantine.

Those employees obviously could not work. They could not have employment benefits because they were under quarantine. I am sure the hon. member would like to let the House know that there are provisions within the legislation. The Senate has taken into account in studying the legislation what happens when one is put under quarantine and his or her livelihood or employment is affected by it. Is that covered by Bill C-12?

Quarantine Act May 5th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest in what the hon. member for Peterborough had to say. There was one area that the hon. member perhaps would like to address, and that is what happens, in our zeal to protect the public, to individual rights? Is there any question in Bill C-12? There is the question of the charter. I can give a perfect example of what happened recently in Montreal.

It was in the news that in Montreal a package was suspect. Immediately when the authorities came in, to protect the public, people were stripped and hosed down. Should we be concerned, with what is provided in Bill C-12, that the Charter of Rights of individuals will be protected? I am assuming this is the case after having read the bill. I am sure the hon. member will let the House know that protection does exist within Bill C-12.

Dalai Lama April 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to point out that today is the first anniversary of the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Canada.

A year ago millions of Canadians were deeply touched and moved by the visit of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Many of us here in this House took part in this incredibly memorable visit to Parliament Hill. His reception at the Centre Block is remembered as one of the most powerful receptions for a world leader in recent times.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner, a relentless campaigner for freedom and human dignity, a respected spiritual leader, and figurehead of the pacifist movement, he has successfully led his people in the field of education and the preservation of their ancient and unique Tibetan culture.

To mark this anniversary, the representatives of the Tibetan community, who are here today and to whom I extend greetings, have distributed khatas—a Tibetan ceremonial scarf symbolizing peace and friendship—to all the MPs. I invite my fellow parliamentarians to wear them with the humility and peace they represent.

The Armenian People April 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me today to draw attention to the first anniversary of the recognition by this House of the Armenian genocide, in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottomans.

The 20th century has seen two world wars and numerous historic conflicts. In spite of this, crimes against humanity are not a thing of the past but continue, unfortunately, to be daily occurrences in many countries.

We witness the persecution of minorities on the basis of their political opinion, race and religion. Some are well-known, such as the Armenian genocide, others, such as the 1922 genocide of the Pontian Greeks, are not so well-known.

In recognizing this historical event as a crime against humanity, as genocide, Canadian parliamentarians have affirmed that crimes of genocide, both past and present, will not be tolerated nor will they be forgotten.

I thank all members of Parliament who supported the motion last year. I invite them to join the Canada-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group and members of the Canadian Armenian Society this afternoon to mark this anniversary.

Long live their memory. We will never forget.

Archbishop Iakovos April 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we were deeply saddened to learn of the death, last Sunday, of the former archbishop of the Greek Orthodoxarchdiocese of North and South America, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos.

The enthronement of Archbishop Iakovos in 1959 ushered in a new era for Greek Orthodoxy in North America and South America. Deeply respected by all religious leaders when he retired in 1996, Archbishop Iakovos offered 37 years of service, which were distinguished by his leadership in furthering religious unity, revitalizing Christian worship and championing human and civil rights.

In the 1960s he had the courage to walk hand in hand with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at a time when few others in the outside world did, standing up for both civil and human rights when it was not in vogue to do so, courageously supporting the freedom movement and continuously supporting the non-violent movement against poverty, racism and violence throughout his life.

Archbishop Iakovos was an admirable role model for Greek Orthodox Christians on the American continent, myself included, further affirming the importance of my faith, in my daily actions--

Supply April 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that Mr. Gagliano was recalled by the Prime Minister. I would like to put my question again. Will the process that has been put in place and for which someone, namely the Prime Minister, has assumed responsibility be respected?

Supply April 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I have said in another question to one of the Bloc members. The Prime Minister said time and again that if the Gomery commission that he has set up, or the special counsel whom he has appointed, conclude that sponsorship money was paid to the Liberal Party, that money will be repaid in full. I am surprised that the Bloc Québécois, which usually has respect for justice and for the procedures established by the Prime Minister, is looking at allegations made by people involved in another criminal process. I would like to quote what the Prime minister said on April 13, 2005 to journalists here outside this House:

Doing the right thing doesn't mean much when the right thing is easy to do. The true test of character is whether you do the right thing when it's difficult. I believe that Canadians look to their political leaders to take responsibility and to show character, and as Prime Minister, I accept my responsibility, and I am accountable. And I have taken the hard, the difficult decisions, and we need to hear Mr. Justice Gomery's conclusions. Establishing the Gomery commission has cost me and my party political support, but it was and remains the right thing to do, because it is needed to defend and protect the integrity of our political process.

And I would add “of our judicial process” as well. That matters a great deal more than the ambitions of any political leader, be it Stephen Harper, Gilles Duceppe or Jack Layton. I would like to know from the member if he will respect the judicial process or if he will accept Mr. Brault's allegations.

Supply April 14th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have been involved in Quebec politics for a long time and one thing I have always noticed about my opponents is that they respect the law and the judicial process. This is precisely what we also want.

We want to know the truth, just like our colleagues. I think the reputation of all elected representatives is being tarnished. I too care about democracy, and I find it important to go to the bottom of things. These are allegations made before the Gomery commission.

I want to mention who took the initiative in this regard and what that person did. The Prime Minister abolished the sponsorship program. He developed the new code of conduct and guidelines for ministers, senior managers and board members; he created an ethics committee totally independent from the House of Commons and the Senate; he undertook a reform of the government's activities relating to advertising, to ensure a more rigorous, competitive and transparent process; he also, of course, established the Gomery commission.

We have always said that, in order to respect the judicial process in a democratic country, it is necessary to wait until that process is fully completed. We must not continually report allegations—as all political parties have already done—regarding individuals, including those who cannot enjoy the protection of the rules of this House.

I also remind the hon. member that the Prime Minister said on numerous occasions, both in and out of the House, that if the Gomery commission or the counsel finds that moneys allocated to the sponsorship program were paid to the Liberal Party, they would be fully refunded.

We cannot support this motion. First, it cannot be the government. The Bloc Québécois is trying to circumvent the rules of the House of Commons by asking the government to establish a trust account, because it is well aware that it cannot present a resolution aimed at a political party. However, this issue has nothing to do with the government.

The Prime Minister made that promise and he will respect it.