Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was strategy.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Saint-Lambert (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2004, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply February 13th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you immediately that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Louis-Hébert.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak, because the matter we are debating today strikes me as a vital one.

As the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has pointed out this morning, the most serious threat to privacy is the theft and misuse of a person's identity by another. Identity thefts cost Canadian society $2.5 billion annually, which is why I believe it is important to ask some questions about this.

In November 2002, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration made a proposal. Without introducing any bill in the House of Commons, the minister wanted to open up a debate on the possibility of creating a national identity card.

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, identity has taken on vital importance.

As far as citizenship and immigration are concerned, the Government of Canada has a commitment to ensure the safety and well-being of Canadians. In addition to legislation on immigration and the protection of refugees, which came into effect in the summer of 2002, we are now making progress toward enhanced border security.

What the minister is proposing is to consult Canadians in connection with a national identity card. The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration is going to seek out Canadians' opinions on this and report the results back to the House.

For the moment, the government wishes to hear what Canadians have to say about a national identity card. In short, it is a matter of establishing a proper dialogue between the government and Canadians. In my opinion, such a debate is a very good thing. It is a demonstration of the healthy state of democracy in Canada.

If we enter into this debate with an open mind, privacy must remain a primary concern. Canada continues to play a lead role internationally in promoting human rights, in such forums as the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the Organization of American States. Domestically, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees everyone equal protection and equal benefits.

The Liberals have always been greatly concerned about protecting privacy as well as rights and freedoms. Let us not forget that we owe our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the Liberals.

Many countries around the world already have a national identity card. This is not something the minister invented. France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain all have them. Belgium recently announced that it would be using smart card technology for its national identity card, to protect the integrity of the document and to better protect personal information.

The lessons that we can learn from what countries like Belgium are doing is that new technologies, like biometrics, are able to better protect Canadians' privacy. In today's world, institutions and ideas are undergoing fundamental change.

We must ensure that Canadians do not lag behind. The technologies that will be used, if Canadians so desire, will provide for unique biometric identifiers like fingerprints, facial recognition and iris scans to control people's identity. The precision and effectiveness of these new techniques are very promising.

The security measures used when such cards are issued will allow a considerable degree of certainty. Why not use the latest technology, such as biometrics, to guarantee the integrity of these documents, while improving the protection of privacy at the same time?

It is important to make a list of the benefits and the drawbacks of a national identity card and it is important to find out what Canadians think about this. I would encourage all my colleagues in the House and all Canadians to reflect on this issue.

Canadian Flag February 13th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, every year, there are celebrations to commemorate the first time the red and white maple leaf flag was raised, on February 15, 1965.

This day, long awaited by the proponents of a distinctive flag, marked the official adoption of Canada's emblem. The red maple leaf then became the symbol by which Canada was recognized around the world.

The following words, spoken by the Hon. Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, on February 15, 1965, add further symbolic meaning to our flag:

The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.

So, let us be proud of our Canadian flag.

Community Access Centres February 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, on January 27, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs announced, on behalf of the Minister of Industry, a contribution of $136,000 to open eight community access centres in the riding of Repentigny.

The minister said the following:

Repentigny residents will benefit from affordable, convenient Internet access. The Community Access Program is an excellent example of partnership among governments, business and community groups.

Since 1995, more than 1,400 sites have been approved and set up in Quebec for a total investment of more than $33 million by the Government of Canada.

This is yet another example, among many, of the federal government's constant funding for projects to—

Canadian Space Program February 3rd, 2003

Mr. Speaker, we were all dismayed by the space shuttle Columbia disaster on the weekend. On behalf of all Canadians, allow me to offer our sincerest condolences to the families.

My question is for the industry minister. In this context, can the minister tell us what his intentions are for the future of the Canadian Space Program?

Agriculture January 31st, 2003

Mr. Speaker, farmers have expressed some concerns about the development of business risk management programs.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food explain to this House how he intends to alleviate these concerns?

International Year of Freshwater January 29th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, on December 12, 2002, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater.

This decision is in keeping with the commitments made by the international community, including Canada, at the 2000 Millennium Summit, and at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. Heads of state from around the world had agreed to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without access to or the means to access safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

If these goals are not reached, fatal diseases will continue to spread and cause devastation, the earth's environment will continue to decay and food security will be compromised, with the risks of instability that can result. Of course, water-related problems are more acute in the developing world, but developed countries are not safe either.

During the International Year of Freshwater, I am convinced that Canada will do its part to protect the planet's precious freshwater resources, which are essential to our survival and to sustainable development in the 21st century.

Employment Insurance Act December 12th, 2002

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore has introduced a relevant bill at an appropriate time. I am talking about Bill C-206, to amend the Employment Insurance Act, which deals with one of the most important issues raised in the recent Speech from the Throne. This issue was also raised in both the Romanow report and the Kirby report.

This is a relevant bill because, as we know, a growing number of Canadians have to strike a balance between their work responsibilities and the need to care for family members. It is timely, and I congratulate my hon. colleague on drawing attention to such an important commitment made by the Government of Canada in the Speech from the Throne.

Obviously, the government shares his concerns about those who have to balance family responsibilities of this sort with work responsibilities. I can confirm for the hon. member that officials are looking into the matter.

While we appreciate his interest in this issue, we do have reasonable concerns about the proposals contained in this bill.

We are starting from the premise that Canadians ought not to have to choose between keeping their job and looking after a family member. In the Speech from the Throne, the government stated its intention of ensuring that workers were not forced to make that choice.

Nevertheless, the amendments proposed in Bill C-206 would require people in such a predicament to choose between leaving their job or being let go so that they could collect benefits while looking after a family member.

Instead of this, we want to encourage people to retain their connections with the job market, particularly with a shortage of skills looming. However, we want to proceed by acknowledging the specific requirements, often temporary, that occur.

As a result, we oppose the provisions of Bill C-206, which would oblige workers to leave their jobs or be let go in order to be eligible for benefits.

Then there is the question of costs, or at least an estimate of costs for this type of measure. It is one thing to propose new measures if one sits on the opposition benches, but those of us who sit on the government side also have to be concerned about the potential costs of such proposals.

For example, this bill calls for benefits to be paid for up to 52 weeks. It is not easy to imagine a worker being able to draw 52 weeks of benefits to look after a family member, when if he or she were ill, there would be only 15 weeks of eligibility. As well, we need estimates of what the cost of such a long benefit period would be.

I wonder if the member has looked at the potential costs of such a proposal. They might be very high, particularly given the wider definition of family member that is being proposed as part of the amendments to section 23 of Part 1 of the Act. In addition to listing immediate family members such as children, parents and spouse, this bill includes in its definition brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and even members of the spouse's family and those of the common-law spouse's family.

This definition could include a very large segment of the population, particularly in the context of an aging population. We must ask ourselves seriously who should be included in the definition of family, since we must be able to support the costs involved.

We know that Canadians are experiencing increasing difficulties in balancing the conflicting obligations of their work, on the one hand, and their family, on the other, and we want to do something about it. However, we do not think that the approach proposed in Bill C-206 is the solution.

We must re-examine this issue together.

Close to half of all Canadians are experiencing moderate to severe stress because of their professional responsibilities. Workers who must care for children or elderly people say that they experience much greater conflicts between their professional and private lives than do other workers. Many employers recognize the importance of providing temporary help to these workers, but they cannot fully meet their needs.

A survey conducted among medium and large businesses showed that 59% of them provide some form of leave for family obligations, but that only about half of them had an official policy. Usually, the support provided by employers is largely non-monetary, unofficial and short term.

The data shows that 77% of Canadians who provide care to a family member have taken a leave of absence. Among them, 69% were absent from work for more than two weeks. In 56% of the cases, they were on leave without pay.

The challenge for the government is to take advantage of existing supports in the workplace, so as to establish a program which will ensure that workers can remain in contact with the labour market during a period of temporary family related stress, and which will also be affordable.

Therefore, we are pleased to discuss the proposals included in Bill C-206 and we are quite prepared to continue to work with all members of the House.

Temporary income support and employment security are appropriate roles for the federal government. This is an opportunity to set an example by meeting the needs of Canadian workers and their families, and by adding an important feature as a support measure for an improved health care program.

Again, I applaud the initiative of the NDP member, and I am sure this is just the beginning of the debate.

Homelessness December 10th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the National Secretariat on Homelessness, initiated by the hon. Minister of Labour. Its Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative was recently selected as a Best Practice in the UN-Habitat 2002 Dubai International Awards for Best Practices.

Commonly referred to as SCPI, this initiative aims to reduce homelessness, an urgent problem in many of our communities. Although homelessness is a problem throughout Canada, it affects each community differently. The Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative supports community efforts to identify priorities, develop plans and define long-term solutions, as well as address the most urgent needs.

Once again, my congratulations to the National Secretariat on Homelessness.

Canada-U.S. Border December 4th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, the PQ government recently questioned the importance attached to the Lacolle border crossing as far as the new accelerated border crossing systems for travellers and shipments, namely NEXUS and FAST, are concerned.

Could the Minister of National Revenue reassure this House that the Lacolle border crossing is, and will continue to be, a priority for the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency?

M.A.C Aids Fund November 26th, 2002

Mr. Speaker, today it was announced by the Canadian Aids Society that the winner of the prestigious 2002 Leadership Award large business category was the M.A.C Aids Fund.

Since its creation in 1994, the M.A.C Aids Fund has distributed more than $40 million to over 100 charities in Canada. These organizations help men, women and children affected by HIV-AIDS in Canada.

The commitment made by M.A.C through the M.A.C Aids Fund serves as a real inspiration for other small, medium and large businesses that want to contribute to the welfare of our society. This being National Aids Awareness Week, I would like to congratulate all of the stakeholders, organizations and charity groups for their untiring efforts to provide support for those who live with HIV/AIDS on a daily basis in Canada.