House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Bloc MP for Papineau (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House


Mr. Speaker, certainly there are a lot of things that were not in that document. That is why we have pointed a few of them out.

As well, we have tried to see, from previous statements by the Prime Minister, how we could expand the points of interest on which the government should take action, because these are promises the government has made us. I would encourage my hon. friend to do the same thing.

Given the very many topics that were left out, we would surely achieve more if other people on this side of the House wanted to do the same thing and paid attention to the government’s promises, to ensure that they were honoured.


It is well known that the Bloc Québécois strongly supports the cause of aboriginal peoples. We have proven it in the past. As citizens of Quebec, we have set an example for Canadian society in terms of the plight of aboriginal peoples and how to ease it.

I believe that my colleague is aware of the advances that have been made in Quebec.

Let us look at the Bloc's position.

The word in English is “soft” on government. I think the Liberal Party should thank us for that. Since it is in such a bad position, I do not think it would be very happy if we pushed too hard on the government right now.

The Bloc and Mr. Duceppe have said that we will work with the government as we did before as long as we take into account Quebec's interests and the Bloc Québécois' interests, which is what we intend to do.


Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Québec.

Permit me to begin my first speech in the House of Commons by thanking my fellow citizens in the riding of Papineau for the trust they have placed in me and the enormous honour they have done me by allowing me to represent them here, as a Bloc Québécois member. As others before me have said, an election campaign is not the work of a single person. An electoral victory cannot be the result of the work done only by a candidate. It is thanks to the hard work and extraordinary devotion of hundreds of activists that I am in this House today. I want to express my loud and clear thanks to them.

As they have asked me to do, I will ensure that my work contributes to representing their interests and to enabling Quebec to progress toward long-awaited sovereignty.

The Speech from the Throne was brief and a number of concerns were not mentioned: no mention of issues of concern to women, the unemployed, artists; no mention either, generally speaking, of issues affecting the poor and disadvantaged. I would hope, however, that that speech, which lays out the new government’s priorities, does not sum up all of the government’s concerns, and that in fact we must look elsewhere to find the other important aspects of what the government will be doing in future. On that point, the subamendment moved by the Bloc Québécois that will help older workers to get better support from the government, which passed unanimously, is evidence of the openness of this House to widening the field for what this 39th Parliament will do.

We should understand from that openness that beyond the Conservative Party’s five priorities, which I acknowledge are legitimate, we can tackle other issues that require our attention and that are just as much a priority. As well, the francophone and Acadian communities of Canada were given short shrift in the Speech from the Throne, a scarce few lines, as follows:

I have met with people from our two great linguistic communities and I can attest that our linguistic duality is a tremendous asset for the country.

You will agree with me that it is a little short and that it is understandable that the francophone and Acadian communities are disappointed. Still, we can interpret this sentence in the light of the statements made by the Prime Minister during the last election campaign. During the leaders’ debate on December 15, 2005, the Prime Minister said:

French is an essential fact in this country. It is the reason why I have been working for a long time to be able to speak my country’s second language. It is also the reason why the new Conservative Party is supporting the two official languages and their equal status in all the institutions of Parliament. We are also in favour of support for linguistic minorities and assistance for second-language education....a Conservative government intends to create a unique francophone secretariat within Canadian Heritage to recognize French across Canada.

He also stated, the next day, in St. John, New Brunswick:

Clearly we intend to continue supporting the minority communities and second-language training for Canadians....I think that we are ready to continue this work

Then, in Quebec City, on December 19, 2005, he made this declaration:

We must never forget that Canada was founded in Quebec City, by francophones. This is why I say that Quebec is the heart of Canada, and that French is an undeniable element of the identity of all Canadians, even though some of us do not speak it as well as we should.

Of these three public statements, what must be retained is the Prime Minister’s will to support the French fact throughout Canada.

The French fact in Canada is in urgent need of such support. During the last campaign, the leader of the Conservative Party did not limit himself to making statements of belief on behalf of the French language in Canada, he also signed a solemn commitment on behalf of the communities, which reads as follows:

By placing my signature at the bottom of this statement of commitment, I acknowledge that linguistic duality is one of the foundations of Canadian society and that the official language communities, and more particularly, the francophone and Acadian communities, are one of the pillars of this duality and consequently of Canada. By doing so, I agree to take every means necessary for the Government of Canada to promote their continued development.

The Speech from the Throne does not—we must admit—reflect the commitments made by the Prime Minister during the last campaign. We must be concerned.

La Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne, in a press release on April 6, 2006, reacted thus:

La Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada is expressing its deep disappointment and concern regarding a Speech from the Throne that has left almost no room for linguistic duality or the francophonie in minority settings.

In the Speech from the Throne, the notion of linguistic duality is found in the preamble by the Governor General, but not in the government program, and this is upsetting

commented the federation's, Jean-Guy Rioux.

He added:

We must also lament the fact that, in the list of our country’s fundamental values, the speech mentions neither linguistic duality nor diversity.

La Fédération culturelle canadienne-française was of a similar opinion:

—this government's Speech from the Throne is a complete disaster for the artistic and cultural sectors of Canadian francophonie and the francophone and Acadian communities in which they work. The concerns of these two sectors, with the arrival of the Conservatives in government, are gaining ground.

René Cormier, president of the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française, said:

I must admit, we are deeply disappointed. Except for the Governor General's preamble, there was no mention of the arts and culture in the Speech from the Throne, nor was there anything about linguistic duality. The message we get from the Speech from the Throne is quite clear. Arts and culture in Canadian francophonie have been eradicated from the vision of Canadian society as the Conservative party sees it. The Conservative party wants to build a strong, united, independent and free Canada, but it is an aberration to think they can do so without culture, without the arts and without cultural diversity. We cannot accept this and we are particularly perplexed and concerned about what will happen next.

These reactions show us that there is a clear disparity between what the Prime Minister said during the campaign and what was said in the Speech from the Throne.

In this context, what should happen next?

We believe that the government should correct this omission and prove that he is concerned about the francophone and Acadian communities.

In 2001, excluding Quebec there were more than a million Canadians whose mother tongue was French. However, the number of those who use French at home keeps decreasing. It went from 671,000 in 1971 to 613,000 in 2001. The challenge for many of these communities is one of survival and not development. The risk many of these communities face is that of assimilation.

Veritable little French bastions, stubborn and determined to exist, these French ramparts in North America, as the president of the Fédération canadienne-française et acadienne calls them, need our support. Not the symbolic support found in election campaign rhetoric, but solid support found here, in this House.

Francophone and Acadian communities can count on Quebeckers. They can count on the Bloc Québécois, which deeply admires their courage, creativity and determination to preserve their language, culture and identity.

As such, I urge the government to offer tangible support to these communities by increasing the budget for Canada-community agreements from $24 to $42 million dollars in the next budget.

I would also urge the government to provide a clearer definition of its rather vague "French language secretariat" and to give it the means to provide adequate support to communities. Finally, I urge the federal government to offer services in French everywhere in Canada.

The Bloc Québécois will work very hard for these communities. As the critic for la Francophonie and Official Languages, I make a commitment to this issue. I will take this commitment as seriously as the Prime Minister will, I hope, take his.

I believe that this House can bring about tangible improvements for Canada's francophones and Acadians. I sincerely do.