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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Independent MP for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2008, with 5% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Privilege May 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I will very briefly explain why I am raising a question of privilege concerning the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development. Yesterday evening, during the adjournment debate, in response to something I had said, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development said, and I am quoting directly from Hansard:

It must have been frustrating for the member during her three years with the Bloc Québécois when she had to sit idly by while it was completely incapable of accomplishing a single goal on the seniors file.

The Conservative government and all its spokespeople routinely disparage the other parties in this House, and this is tolerated. However, it is unacceptable, in my opinion. I will let the parties decide whether or not to take action. However, when the parliamentary secretary directly disparages a member, namely me, in a mean and calculated manner, it is a personal and collective affront to the people I legitimately represent in this House.

This sort of insidious and damaging remark, which reflects on a member's reputation and was made in this House, should not be tolerated. I therefore ask the parliamentary secretary to retract her comments.

May 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I reject the first remark made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, although it does not surprise me. I reject it because no member of this House is more important than any other. I have no doubt that we all have the best interests of our constituents at heart. It is quite unpleasant to hear what she just said to me.

As for seniors, as everyone knows, our debt ranks as the lowest among industrialized countries. The Conservatives will not stop boasting about it. So why did they not use the surplus to help seniors, in particular, instead of using that money to pay down the debt? It is the responsibility of a government to redistribute wealth and take care of the common good. Why did the Conservatives fail to do so, when they had the perfect opportunity?

May 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, just before the budget was presented, I asked the Minister of Finance if he planned on putting in place measures that would really make a difference for seniors living in poverty.

Seniors whose only income consists of old age security combined with the guaranteed income supplement are living below the poverty line. All of us in this House and I believe the majority of Canadians and Quebeckers know that. In my region and elsewhere, these individuals barely manage to balance a modest budget that covers only necessities. The poor are becoming poorer and their sad plight will not improve on its own. Quite the contrary.

The Conservatives often respond with statistics—I imagine that is what they will do shortly—when confronted by human misery. However, statistics can be used to downplay the harsh realities. According to observers, although the poverty rate has fallen among seniors, the cost of basic needs is rising and is placing seniors in an increasingly critical situation.

Take, for example, the growing number of seniors who are forced to use food banks. This is not an urban legend. It is really happening. The price of basic goods is rising and the cost of getting from place to place is going up—think of the price of a litre of gas—as is the cost of housing, food, medications and other basic necessities.

The Conservative government is responsible for enabling seniors to meet their basic needs and to live with dignity. The government must honour that responsibility.

The budget did not really improve living conditions for the people I am talking about, except for those who continue to work after turning 65. These people will still be penalized, but a little less so than before. My motion, which was agreed to by a majority of the members of this House, would have improved things for seniors by 50% more than what the government did, but because I always applaud small steps in the right direction, I supported what the government did.

The budget failed to resolve the biggest problem with respect to seniors living in poverty. We know that there is a class—I hate using the word, but it is the one that fits—of seniors, those who are alone, who are having an even harder time than others, and who are mostly women.

Many groups and experts have asked the government to do something about this problem. We have a simple tool, the guaranteed income supplement. We know that this is a benefit for people who do not have private retirement fund income and for whom the government pension is not enough. The motion proposed raising the supplement for people who are single, widowed or divorced. We need to focus on helping our poorest seniors and women.

It met an urgent need, and I do not think that, as a society, we can allow ourselves to ignore these people who really need our help. The government did not help them in its budget. It still has a chance to help with the release of its next economic statement. I would like to remind the government that this is what a majority of members of the House want and that it should act now.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act May 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am voting against this motion.

Canada Post Corporation Act May 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I will keep my question short to allow other members of this House to put their questions.

My hon. colleague has no doubt heard, as I did, Liberal and Conservative members shout themselves hoarse defending 10,000 jobs. I am not saying that we should not shout ourselves horse defending jobs in this country. But did the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi who just spoke notice that, regarding the manufacturing and forestry sectors, both of which are going through a real crisis, while the people across the way were in a position to address the issue, they did not make any noise about 10,000, 15,000 or 20,000 jobs?

All of a sudden, they bring up this totally opportunistic argument.

Canada Post Corporation Act May 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member who just spoke if he could assure us that the purpose of this bill is absolutely not, directly or indirectly, to start deregulation. That is my first question.

My second question is: why tinker with a universal service? Some companies, for whatever reason, acted illegally. The court ruled that they had six months to shut down their business. The Conservative government decided to take away Canada Post's chances to potentially make $80 million.

I would like to know the reasons behind this decision, when rural areas are suffering the consequences. A number of members in this House see this situation every day as they represent their constituents.

Sister Germaine Belles-Isles May 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, today, May 6, 2008, Sister Germaine Belles-Isles of the Ursuline community in Rimouski celebrates her 107th birthday. The most senior member of the congregation in Quebec, Sister Belles-Isles is known for her vitality and cordiality. She is an active member of her community and often its heart and soul.

Sister Belles-Isles' memories span an entire century, making her invaluable to her community and richly deserving of the tributes and affection she receives.

I pay tribute to her dedication and hope she will continue to brighten her companions' days.

I thank her for devoting her life to helping, guiding and advising the people around her.

I wish her many more years of shared joy and happiness.

Public Transit May 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, citizens who live in our regions are sick and tired of breaking the bank every time they fill up the tank. They have no choice but to use their cars to get around. The government does not set the price of gas, but it is responsible for helping people become less dependent on oil.

In rural regions like mine, public transit is virtually non-existent, and consumers can hardly be blamed for feeling that they have been taken hostage.

Will the government do more to help municipalities in the regions quickly set up the infrastructure they need to reduce oil dependency?

April 30th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my constituents, I always jump on the opportunity provided by an adjournment debate to reiterate all of my questions because I am asking these questions for them. Clearly, the parliamentary secretary and the departmental team have not looked into this. It is just as obvious that the parliamentary secretary did not hear me as it is that he was simply reading his speech.

I discussed one single industry: producers operating private woodlots and forests. I did not talk about sawmills; I talked about independent workers. We know that the trust completely ignores them. The government should not be trying to sidetrack us. Their trust would remove foresters from the forest for years to come.

What will happen when they are removed? What will happen in five, six or ten years when the crisis is over? What condition will the forest be in then? Why is the government not using the measures I described earlier to help them stay in the forest and take care of that very important natural resource? That is the real question. Why is the government completely ignoring these people? That is my question.

He should put his speech away and give me a straight answer. What will the Conservative government do to help private woodlot operators?

April 30th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, this adjournment debate gives me the opportunity to come back to the question I asked on February 4 about the complete disregard for private lumber producers in the Conservatives' plan to “save” the forestry industry, or rather to diversify the economies of single-industry regions.

I remind the House that the private lumber industry represents $400 million in sales, $700 million in payroll, $4 billion in processed products, $500 million in tax revenue, 29,000 jobs and 35,000 producers. I also remind the House that these producers have lost $70 million over two years, and are now on the brink of bankruptcy. But the situation facing private lumber producers was completely ignored—and still is—by the Conservative government.

There are many of these producers in my riding and elsewhere, and their demands are legitimate. I will mention a few of them.

The president of the Fédération des producteurs de bois du Québec, Pierre-Maurice Gagnon, and the president of the Syndicat des producteurs forestiers du Bas-Saint-Laurent, Jean-Louis Gagnon, are both worried, and with good reason. I completely agree with their requests, which can be summarized as follows.

First of all, they are calling for lumber producers to be recognized as workers, which would allow them to contribute to employment insurance and thus be eligible for benefits.

They are also calling for tax measures so that, like farmers, they can deduct 100% of their expenses in the year in which they are incurred, not in the year the income is received.

They are also calling for one-off, immediate assistance so that people in the industry can continue to manage the forest despite the crisis, in order to keep our forests healthy, as well as financial assistance for work on the logging road network and improved transportation, given that greater distances have to be covered and that the cost of fuel oil and gas is rising.

When we think of the effect of the crisis on the owners of private woodlots, we must think about all the secondary losses suffered by the people in the industry. This affects people in transportation, people who sell machinery and the employees. All sectors that benefit from the purchasing power of these individuals are also affected indirectly.

In the Lower St. Lawrence region, these producers supply 80% of the material required by the factories. This gives an idea of the importance of this sector for our regions, especially mine, of course.

In the Lower St. Lawrence region, 7% of our producers live exclusively off the forest. The others make 25% of their income from agriculture, the maple syrup industry and the forest. Losing 25% of one's income can often be disastrous. That often makes a great difference for people whose net family income is between $25,000 and $30,000 a year.

I would like to reiterate my question, for I think it is completely relevant. How will the Conservative government help these private wood producers? These are self-employed people who create their own employment and do their work while fully respecting the environment. They are entrepreneurs who bring a crucial dynamic quality to our communities. How could the Conservative government have forgotten them completely and how can it continue to ignore them?