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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

Afghanistan February 13th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I want a clear answer to my question. Colonel Anderson of the Canadian army admits all this. The Prime Minister cannot deny that there are drug dealers near the fields where the Canadian army checkpoints are located. What is the truth?

Afghanistan February 13th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative minority government is trying once again to conceal information about the war in Afghanistan. On Monday, Radio-Canada reported that the Canadian army is aware of the presence of drug dealers but prefers to close its eyes, on the grounds that that is none of our business. According to the latest report from the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, opium production rose by 32% from 2006 to 2007 and is expected to continue to increase in 2008.

Can the Prime Minister show some transparency and stop hiding the truth? Is he—

International Development Week February 7th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, during International Development Week from February 3 to 9, 2008, the City of Ottawa is hosting a meeting of the Advisory Group on CSOs and Aid Effectiveness. Several NGOs there are calling for an end to a model that does not target poverty reduction and excludes civil society.

Excluding NGOs makes no sense, since those organizations have in-depth knowledge of local realities and generally have strong roots in the communities receiving assistance. Involving them directly in development programs helps reinforce democracy and promote savings in societies that are often marginalized.

It is time to speak out about the fact that Canada is still far from reaching the development assistance target of 0.7% of GDP. There is room for improvement.

Afghanistan February 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, it is easy to tell us how much money was promised for schools, for children and for which children. But this still does not give us an answer, an exact answer, to our question.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister said he accepted the main points of the Manley report. That means that he agrees with the recommendation to ensure greater accountability.

Does the government intend to implement that recommendation any faster than it plans to make good on the promise in its own budget?

Afghanistan February 6th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, we learned that millions of dollars sent from Canada for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan are in fact in private banks and impossible to trace. Yet in budget 2007, the Conservative government promised greater accountability.

The truth is, nothing has been done. How can the government explain that, despite its promises, it is still impossible to know exactly where the money intended for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan is going?

Foreign Affairs February 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Motion M-410, which calls on the government of Canada to divest from corporations conducting business in Sudan and Iran. To begin, we find it hard to understand why Motion M-410 is being presented in this House now. We believe that divestment measures are meant to punish countries engaged in wrongdoing and cannot be taken lightly, either by a country that takes such measures or by the country that is subject to them.

When a country takes such measures, it must take a host of factors into consideration: the right timing, the geopolitical situation at the time, the effectiveness of the measure, the welfare of the civilian population in the country affected, and so on. It seems that the mover of the motion has neglected a few important aspects of both form and substance, which I would like to address in my comments.

First, passing this motion would be premature, in our opinion. The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development is in fact preparing, in the next few days, to examine the question of divestment in Sudan by hearing a number of witnesses who will provide the committee with information on this subject. Would it therefore not be appropriate to let the committee do its study and report to the House in the next few weeks? In the case of Iran, there might eventually be a separate and more thorough study by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Second, we find it hard to understand why, in this motion as it is worded, the mover is calling for punitive measures against both Sudan and Iran. In our opinion, it would be unwise to combine cases as different as Iran and Sudan in the same motion.

In the case of Sudan, the international community is witnessing a conflict and a serious humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Several hundred thousand Sudanese have been displaced and forced to take refuge in Chad and the Central African Republic. Iran, on the other hand, is not experiencing any internal conflict of that kind. The human rights situation there is certainly a matter for concern. The major issue in relation to that country at present, however, is really the question of the Iranian nuclear program.

Third, we might reasonably question the effectiveness of the motion, given that Canada has virtually no investments in Sudan and Iran and that by acting alone and unilaterally its action could have very little effect. In our opinion, a multilateral approach in the international arena should have been taken instead.

As we undoubtedly all know, the major economic partners of Sudan and Iran are Russia and China. Accordingly, even if Canada were to adopt divestment measures, Sudan and Iran could circumvent those measures through their trading relations with their biggest partners, and this would cause a corresponding reduction in the effectiveness of the motion.

On the substance, we believe that measures like these will always carry more weight if they are taken within a multilateral framework such as, for example, under the aegis of the United Nations. The international community as a whole will always carry more weight than a single country.

In this regard, the Security Council has already imposed sanctions on Iran, under resolution 1747. Canada has implemented the measures recommended in that resolution, under the Special Economic Measures Act, an act that provides for the application of international resolutions of this nature. What that act provides, in section 4(1), is as follows:

The Governor in Council may, for the purpose of implementing a decision, resolution or recommendation of an international organization of states or association of states, of which Canada is a member, that calls on its members to take economic measures against a foreign state, or where the Governor in Council is of the opinion that a grave breach of international peace and security has occurred that has resulted or is likely to result in a serious international crisis,

(a) make such orders or regulations with respect to the restriction or prohibition of any of the activities referred to in subsection (2) in relation to a foreign state as the Governor in Council considers necessary; and

(b) by order, cause to be seized, frozen or sequestrated in the manner set out in the order any property situated in Canada that is held by or on behalf of

(i) a foreign state,

(ii) any person in that foreign state, or

(iii) a national of that foreign state who does not ordinarily reside in Canada.

We may therefore conclude that if Canada chooses to act multilaterally, its actions will carry greater political and economic weight while complying with international law.

Finally, before we can say whether or not we support a motion that calls for the application of a disinvestment policy, we must examine both the Sudanese and the Iranian cases in detail to determine whether such measures are effective and which individuals and activities will really be affected. It could turn out that such measures do not affect the target government at all. Let us not forget the sanctions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War, sanctions that severely penalized the civilian population.

There is very little Canadian investment in Sudan and Iran. Direct investment in both countries is so minimal that it is not even listed on Foreign Affairs Canada's website. In other words, Iran and Sudan are not our major economic partners. Consequently, imposing sanctions will have little effect on their respective economies.

In one of its recent reports, Export Development Canada—EDC—stated that companies are already worried and reluctant to invest in Iran because of the unresolved nuclear situation. In addition, Iran has been running major surpluses in its current accounts over the last few years, meaning that more money is flowing into Iran than out. According to EDC, these surpluses in Iran’s external accounts have helped it accumulate comfortable foreign exchange reserves. EDC concludes, as a result, that Iran can afford in the medium term to disregard the UN’s demands.

Seen from another angle, the Sudanese and Iranian regimes rely almost exclusively on Islamic financial institutions. They are not dependent, therefore, on big Canadian or, more broadly, western economic institutions.

Some researchers, such as Jeffrey Sachs, an economics professor at Columbia University and advisor to the UN Secretary General, have criticized the American decision to impose economic sanctions on Sudan. In his view, sanctions will not help one bit to restore peace in Darfur. Accordingly, Canadian disinvestment in Sudan will not do anything to put an end to the violence. Sachs thinks that in order to solve the problem in Darfur, basic needs will have to be dealt with, including poverty, drought, famine and the distribution of wealth. The solution that he encourages, therefore, puts the emphasis on a coherent economic development plan based on a strategy of regional stability.

In other words, respect for human rights can be effectively encouraged and strengthened through a diplomatic approach based on the establishment of sustainable peace and stability. With peace and stability, a country can develop by investing in its social infrastructure, such education and health.

Summarizing then, the current situation is not conducive to such measures as disinvestment. After years of negotiation, the Sudanese government finally agreed very reluctantly to the deployment of a joint UN-AU force, which started last December. No country should do anything that might compromise this mission.

The international community is in the midst of negotiations with Iran over the nuclear issue. This is not the time, therefore, to do things that could compromise the talks and the negotiations with Iran.

Experts do not agree on whether disinvestment and economic sanctions are effective or not.

The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development is preparing to study the disinvestment issue in regard to Sudan. We should let the committee do its work, therefore, and report to the House.

Instead of taking unilateral punitive measures against Iran and Sudan, Canada would be better advised to take a multilateral approach, which would have more weight.

For all these reasons, the Bloc Québécois will vote against the motion.

Omar Khadr February 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, the minister does not acknowledge that Mr. Khadr was a child when imprisoned. He is a child soldier.

To follow up the response of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, it seems that soldiers do not build prisons. Also, they do not transfer them to Afghans.

What do they do with them? Do they send them to the moon?

Omar Khadr February 5th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, Omar Khadr, a young Canadian held in Guantanamo since he was 15, is accused of killing a U.S. soldier. He could be given a life sentence. His lawyers are asking that all charges in violation of international treaties that protect child soldiers be dismissed. The former French minister of justice, Robert Badinter, stated that this trial is contrary to international law, an opinion shared by 18 of the most distinguished jurists in the world, including the chairman of the UN International Law Commission.

For Mr. Khadr to be given a just and fair trial—

Afghanistan January 29th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of Foreign Affairs stand up and tell the House that the Canadian armed forces have never, since transfers stopped, been complicit in letting the Afghans take prisoners who risked being tortured? Can he guarantee that the spirit and the letter of the Geneva convention have been respected at all times and will continue to be respected?

Afghanistan January 29th, 2008

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to see the reaction of the Conservative government regarding the transfer of Afghan prisoners. First, they did not know. Then they knew, but they were hiding it. Now, we learn from a government lawyer, apparently acting on his own, that there have been no transfers of prisoners since November 5.

Just like what happened in the United States with Bush's 534 lies about Iraq, is this not a campaign to fool Quebeckers and Canadians about the true fate of Afghan prisoners?