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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

World Food Crisis April 30th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, speculation, the use of food sources to produce biofuels, and our irresponsible energy consumption have contributed to the world food crisis.

Increasing our financial aid by $50 million is not enough, although it may ease our conscience. We have to help populations in crisis to produce their own food. The government's international energy assistance policy must take this reality into account.

What is the Conservative government waiting for to take action, to develop a comprehensive strategy and become a partner in global fairness?

Business of Supply April 29th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, last Sunday, during an interview on the program Les coulisses du pouvoir, the minister answered questions from the interviewer, Mr. Lessard, by saying that none of the payments for advertisements involved taxpayers' money.

I would like to give him this opportunity to clarify or amend his thinking. Given that the expenses of any candidate, of any political stripe, qualify for a reimbursement of 60%—of taxpayers' money, we all agree—if that candidate receives 10% of the votes, would the minister now like to correct the information he gave and that his colleague, whose name and constituency I have forgotten, the one who has just tabled a document, repeated yesterday by saying that it was no big deal because it was not taxpayers' money?

I am offended, on behalf of the people I represent, to hear such misinformation.

Business of Supply April 29th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, my question for the hon. member is very short and simple.

In and out scheme aside, do the member and her party think that a candidate can legitimately and legally pay for national advertising, and then obtain or request that 60% be reimbursed as election expenses?

April 28th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, when I ask a question during an adjournment debate, I always do so in a non-partisan manner. I do not need to be lectured by any parliamentary secretary. I have studied this file. I took part in the debate and I remember it quite well. It was almost 11 p.m. on the last night and I voted in favour of this non-partisan motion. I would appreciate not being lectured in this House. I do not lecture others either.

The motion has been debated. I agree that it is non-partisan, but the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the Minister of International Cooperation will nonetheless acknowledge that this is a governmental obligation. It is not up to Parliament to run the UN-NATO mission in Afghanistan. That is the government's responsibility.

Why was the government not transparent before the motion was adopted? Why did it not tell us that it knew since 2006 that 1,000 more soldiers were needed? Why did it not give us the right budget figures? Why was it not transparent? Why was it not truly accountable? That is what we were promised in the motion.

I seriously question the way I was informed—

April 28th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, this evening I would like to go back to the question I asked on March 3 about respecting the specific conditions and obligations in the motion that was passed concerning the Canadian armed forces mission in Afghanistan.

We explained our stance on a motion that required the Conservative government to orient the armed forces' mission toward overall reconstruction of the Afghan state and to withdraw from going after the Taliban after 2009. As we know, the purpose will be to establish legal, security and economic institutions in a country ravaged by war for over 40 years.

That motion also called on the government to coordinate with the departments and agencies involved in reconstruction in the province of Kandahar. We still do not know how the cabinet committee on Afghanistan will carry out that mandate on the ground.

The wording of the motion committed the government to greater transparency and accountability toward citizens and Parliament with respect to the three parts of the mission. As planned, the government created a special committee of the House, but up to now, we have been hearing anything but good news.

We learned from General Hillier that NATO had known since 2006 that we needed at least 1,000 more soldiers to secure the province of Kandahar. This information was not originally taken into account, because members were not informed during the debates held recently. This probably meant that the Taliban was able to carry out more attacks on the troops in that region. It is probably one thing that limited Canada's chances for success.

Another 1,000 soldiers will fight alongside us, and we learned that they will be Americans. So there will be 1,000 more soldiers. However, based on what we know about them, will they respect the spirit of the motion adopted by the House of Commons? Do they even know about it? Will they adapt their strategies to take into account their Canadian comrades in arms and the role given to them by Parliament?

Will the Canada-U.S. forces work on rebuilding and on securing roads and villages to enable Afghans to live in peace, or will they continue their hunt for the Taliban?

We also learned that the cost of the mission had been hidden from Canadians and their representatives. The military budget for Afghanistan went from $402 million in 2005-06 to $803 million in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the cost of the mission will surpass $1 billion.

Even though the government had this information, it waited for the motion to be voted on before giving it to us. So much for the transparency and accountability referred to in the motion.

Only later did we learn that the cost of the mission was increasing and that the Canadian government was hiding this fact from us. Everyone will agree that this was nonetheless an important factor to consider in an honest vote on the motion, like the one my colleagues and I took part in in this House.

In the end, our unbelievable Minister of Foreign Affairs ruined months of work by calling for the resignation of a governor, interfering in something that diplomats were handling perfectly well and thereby seriously damaging our diplomatic credibility.

I am beginning to think that the extraordinary work of the soldiers, aid workers and government officials is being undermined by the federal government's incompetence and I must ask, once again, in concrete terms, what difference will we make in Afghanistan?

Canada Consumer Product Safety Act April 28th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska and I appreciated his speech. My question is very simple. He painted a complete picture. I understand why he talked more specifically about inspection needs. It was really necessary to talk about contaminated food not only for dogs, but also for other animals, and about the issue of toys that do not even come close to meeting our standards.

My question is entirely related to agriculture and to the fact that we have here, in Quebec particularly and in the rest of Canada, very strict standards as far as production is concerned. In Quebec, we have mechanisms, including traceability and others, to ensure that the food that appears on our plates and goes into our bodies will be totally safe.

My question is very simple. Why are the Government of Canada and the parliamentarians in this House not imposing standards as binding, as strict and as safe for our people? For imported foods and ingredients to be used in food products, why do not we require at the source the same quality and the same standards that we apply here? Obviously, there would be quality controls and inspections. Why do we accept less than what we demand here, at the price it costs here? We would have a good quality, absolutely safe food basket at a reasonable price.

Petitions April 14th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table another petition in support of my motion M-383, which was recently debated and adopted by a majority of the House.

This petition has signatures from 700 residents of eastern Quebec, who are calling on the government to improve the guaranteed income supplement for our least fortunate seniors, so that their combined benefits bring them above the poverty line. This petition also requests that guaranteed income supplement recipients be allowed to work the equivalent of 15 hours per week at the minimum wage of their province of residence.

I would like to thank everyone who signed the petition, and who joined together to ensure that the Conservative government takes care of our seniors and provides them with meaningful benefits.

Federal Protected Areas April 14th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the Pointe-au-Père national wildlife area has been completely abandoned by the federal government—the sewers are overflowing, dogs run loose and migratory birds have deserted it.

In his report, the environment commissioner states that a number of federal protected areas are in danger due to a lack of management and sufficient resources. I would add a lack of political will as well.

Will the government stop claiming to protect natural environments and finally act responsibly? And above all, will it restore the Pointe-au-Père site?

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague.

I have often noticed that when our colleagues from the New Democratic Party speak, one of their recurring themes is reducing poverty throughout the country. On behalf of the people, I applaud that.

As an independent member, I am always hesitant to tell the government what to do. To me, the most important thing is to remind it that it has the means. The first thing the government must do if it wishes to fight or reduce poverty, for everyone from children to seniors, is invest the necessary funds in existing programs.

In answer to my colleague's question, in my opinion, the second thing the government must do—while respecting the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces, of course—is hand over significant sums of money—within the framework of the existing system—so that those who are closest to the people can take provincial and territorial realities into account.

As everyone knows, sovereignty is dear to my heart, so I am sure my answer will not surprise the hon. member.

Budget Implementation Act, 2008 April 9th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, obviously I plan to talk about the whole issue of the amendment, but I will also take this opportunity to speak on Bill C-50, the budget implementation bill, and share some more general but, I believe, nonetheless very important thoughts.

Coming on the heels of a budget that is timid, to say the least, Bill C-50, Budget Implementation Act, 2008, confirms this government's vision and essentially incorporates a bill on immigration that is totally unacceptable in terms of both its content and the way it is being introduced.

On reading budget 2008, I felt that seniors and the poor were the big losers. I voted against this budget largely for this reason. Now, by adding immigration clauses, the government has done something totally unacceptable, in my opinion. These clauses give the minister absolutely extraordinary discretionary powers. There will be other big losers if we accept this. If this goes through, all newcomers to Canada, especially people who want to sponsor family members, will have a hard time living with the new reality of arbitrary decisions.

I want to talk about more general issues, as I said previously. In this Budget Implementation Act, 2008, regional economies—an issue I feel strongly about and one that will always be close to my heart—and environmental concerns are really given short shrift. The measures in the bill are too timid to give clear, targeted help to the thousands of people across Canada with urgent, pressing needs. It is shameful that, once again, the government has not chosen to act for the common good and redistribute wealth when it can.

The government has chosen to use $10 billion to pay down the debt instead of looking after the people for whom it is responsible and redistributing wealth. Because it has decided to pay down the debt, the government is using smoke and mirrors and more often than not presenting us with budget measures spread over two years—measures it is not giving much attention to. Sometimes, the figures look quite promising, but when they are cut in half, they are much less attractive.

Very few people are fooled by this scheme. As I said last fall in criticizing the economic statement, it is precisely because, quite frankly, there was not much to it and nothing substantial for seniors and businesses in our region that I obviously decided to vote against the statement, as I did against this budget and as I will continue to do against this budget implementation bill, which I find unacceptable. It is only logical.

Today, the government is implementing some of the claims regarding provincial jurisdictions. We had questions about the elimination of the millennium scholarship and the creation of an independent employment insurance commission. All these steps taken by the government are baby steps and their significance should not be exaggerated, as it is quite limited. The people in our regions want to see real, detailed changes, which they do not often see from this government.

The people who need help from this government, people in my riding and throughout Quebec, are truly being left out in the cold by this budget and this budget implementation bill. I am talking about seniors and forestry workers in particular.

As far as seniors are concerned, this government recently had the opportunity, as many in this House will recall, to take a look at our least fortunate seniors and study the entire issue through the motion I presented, which, I am happy to report, was adopted by a majority vote. The only members who voted against the motion were the Conservative members.

The government thus had an opportunity to address the issue, to do things differently, to try to eliminate poverty among our seniors, those who built our regions, our country, our nation of Quebec and the rest of Canada. It had an opportunity to lift these people above the poverty line.

My motion did not ask for much. In it I asked that our seniors be lifted above the poverty line and be allowed to work 15 hours a week at the minimum wage established by their province of residence without being penalized with respect to the guaranteed income supplement. It was not much, but it was well-meaning. We know what this government decided to do.

The Conservatives have taken some measures. No one can be against the good things or against virtue. They announced $13 million to fight violence against seniors; that in itself is important. Furthermore, they announced the creation of a TFSA, that special account. This is good, if the seniors have any money. My main focus was help for poor seniors. If seniors can save a maximum of $5,000 per year in a special savings account, good for them.

But before helping those who have resources and pensions, the government's responsibility and obligation is to take care of the people who need it most. In this case, I will continue to hammer home my demands, the demands of the people, of seniors and of those who fight for seniors' rights and needs, because they need more than what the government offered in its budget.

I will not have a chance to discuss all the sectors of the Quebec economy, but there is one in particular that affects everyone, at least on this side of the House: the manufacturing and forestry sector.

It is completely unacceptable that despite the creation of a special fund intended to help these regions and sectors where many manufacturing and forestry companies are experiencing a crisis, there are still huge job losses. The government had the opportunity to help these foresters and to give them a boost.

In my region and in Quebec in particular, I am thinking about private woodlots and the foresters who own them, who cultivate our forests, who look after them competently, successfully taking environmental concerns into consideration. The Conservative government completely forgot about them. It completely ignored the reality in the forestry sector, and particularly the private forestry sector, in Quebec and elsewhere.

For all the reasons I mentioned—and I am sorry I must stop, because I could have talked for 20 minutes—it is clear that I cannot support this budget implementation bill, and will vote against it.