Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Bloc MP for Louis-Hébert (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2000, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Supply February 8th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I am somewhat uncomfortable with the minister's speech, because she downplays a situation that has been going on for several years. The minister also confuses two things.

She confuses projects on which individual members are expected, by virtue of their functions, to make a decision with the documents on file. That is my first point, and I believe all members here do support these programs in good faith. However, program management does not concern the members of this House who are not government members and representing the minister's department.

Is the minister familiar with the Public Service of Canada Act, which calls for public servants at all levels to be accountable? If a company were managed the way her department is, it would have gone bankrupt a long time ago.

Point Of Order February 7th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I hope you will listen to me because I have something very important to table in the House, with unanimous consent, following the introduction of Bill C-20.

It is a recently published book entitled Le Pari de la franchise .

Petitions December 16th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by 5,972 people from my riding who are calling on the government to legislate on the mandatory monitoring of genetically modified organisms.

These are just some of the people who signed this petition. I would like to name them all, but others will join them since the petition is still circulating.

Points Of Order December 14th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I would like the House to be aware of the content of a very interesting article that was published in Le Soleil in October 1999 and which mentions that 50% plus one is enough in the United Kingdom and in Scotland.

I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to table this document.

Points Of Order December 13th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present to the House an article from today's La Presse, which points out that the Prime Minister found the 1980 and 1995 questions clear. I request the unanimous consent of the House to table a document that would enlighten the House.

Mandatory Labelling Of Genetically Modified Foods November 19th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, as the campaign calling on the government to make labelling of genetically modified organisms mandatory continues, I would like to make a few comments.

First of all, this campaign is aimed at consumers, without any political overtones. They have the right to know what they have in their shopping cart and they certainly have the right to know what is on their plate.

The campaign warns farmers interested in the ongoing and long term effects on the environment, soil and the water table about these farming practices.

The campaign is intended to alert religious groups, members of ethnic groups and certain vegetarians with dietary restrictions. For them, labelling is essential. The same goes for parents concerned about the safety of the food their children eat, particularly if they suffer from allergies to such things as seafood.

Hence this demand, and Bill C-309 on mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.

I hope that most members of the House, who represent consumers, will support this bill, in the interests of their constituents' well-being.

Division No. 54 November 18th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, speaking of the present Young Offenders Act, here is what the Coalition québecoise pour la justice des mineurs, the membership of which has already been listed by my colleague, had to say:

Before doing away with 16 years of practice, adjustments and precedent to go in a direction that breaks with almost a century of tradition, parliamentarians must ask whether this is a worthwhile effort. Will they have the courage to defend a piece of legislation that is unanimously supported by those who know and use it, or will they give in to the lobbyists, who are experts in using disinformation to advance a program that is as petty as it is reductive?

Let us summarize the present situation. First of all, Bill C-68 was introduced in first reading by the Minister of Justice on March 11, 1999. It was an outcome of the youth justice system renewal strategy announced in May 1998. Bill C-68 died on the order paper when the House was prorogued.

After the Speech from the Throne, Bill C-3 was introduced on October 14. Aside from a few changes in form, all aspects of Bill C-3 are identical to Bill C-68. The Bloc Quebecois and all stakeholders in Quebec are opposed to this reform, deeming it pointless and even dangerous, as far as its anticipated effects on the reduction of crime in the long term are concerned.

In Quebec, reform of the Young Offenders Act is quite simply not going over well. Bill C-3, like Bill C-68 before it, is denounced by all those who are in the front lines in the battle against youth crime, in other words those most familiar with it: criminologists, social workers, and police and legal authorities.

What we are interested in is not a repressive approach but rather the expertise acquired in Quebec in implementing the Young Offenders Act, which has proven itself.

It is not only Quebec that is opposed to this bill, however. More and more voices are being heard throughout Canada expressing opposition to the simplistic policies of this government in the field of justice. They include those of the Canadian criminal justice association and the child welfare league of Canada, which joined with that of the Quebec coalition in calling on the minister to withdraw her bill.

The Young Offenders Act allowed Canada to substantially reduce its juvenile crime rate. Since 1991, the rate of juvenile crime has dropped by 23%. This same law enabled Quebec to have Canada's lowest juvenile crime rate.

What fate has the Liberal government in store for such an effective law? The wastebasket. Bill C-3 does not merely amend the Young Offenders Act, it repeals it. This means that the basic principles of the Young Offenders Act, which include “respect for the special needs of adolescents”, will be replaced by new principles foreign to the peculiarities of juvenile crime.

The legislator's silence will make it clear that taking the special needs of adolescents into account is no longer the primary rule in juvenile justice. In fact, the new principles are focused more on making young people responsible for their actions.

When one reads these passages and sees the effectiveness of the present Young Offenders Act, one wonders whether the members have ever lived with young people. One wonders how well they know them.

I have heard some pretty incredible things today. Can we talk about a hardened criminal in the case of a 12 year old? That is what I heard in the House. Let us stop citing sordid examples, which are generally the exception, when what we need to be doing is coming to the assistance of these young children.

The topic of adolescents—because the bill talks about adolescents—should not provoke hysteria. This House must learn to speak about these children with love. The rehabilitative approach we have adopted in Quebec forces caregivers to assess children, to get to know them and to provide encouragement, because a 14 year old should not go to jail, he should not be sent where he will learn all about crime.

When one has a family—particularly a large one, which broadens one's expertise—one sees that no one child reacts the same way to a given situation. How can we apply a rigid law to these adolescents when, in real life, we know how these young people, who have a soul and creativity, react? They can be saved with rehabilitation programs adapted to their reality.

I heard the member for Mississauga West say that a child's basic values are instilled by the age of seven. It is certainly odd that we can talk about rehabilitating adults, but not about rehabilitating young people. If a child is fully shaped by the time he is seven, then there is nothing we can do here. Adolescence, these days, is longer than before, into the twenties according to some studies. Parents of grown children are aware of this.

What can be said about the 14- to 16-year olds? Why revise the criminal justice system for adolescents when we have legislation in hand that has proven itself over the past 10 years and has reduced the crime rate considerably?

I would like to quote from the report of a Quebec task force, the Jasmin Report:

It is often easier to amend legislation than to change our approach to a problem. It may be tempting to think that tougher legislation is the answer to the problems of delinquency. Simplistic responses blind us to the full extent of complex problems and create the false impression that we are doing what is necessary to resolve them. One such simplistic response is substituting get-tough measures for educational approaches. Doing so, however, loses sight of the fact that adolescents are still developing, and lays all of the blame for their delinquency on them, as if society and the environment they live in had nothing to do with it.

In the bill, there are two aspects that catch my attention particularly, and to which I object. First, there is the more repressive sentences, where the group liable to the same sentences as an adult would be is extended to 14- and 15-year olds. Second, there is the establishment of a sentence of committal to custody for young people at highest risk and repeat offenders in the case of violent crime.

Our society will gain nothing from having young people harden in prison, at crime school. Sooner or later, they will have to return to the community. Our collective security is directly related to the success of the rehabilitation of young offenders, and abusive incarceration could undermine their chances of success.

In conclusion, I repeat that the Bloc Quebecois strongly opposes Bill C-3 and that it can happily live with the Young Offenders Act as it stands, since we apply it in Quebec. In order that her bill may truly be flexible, I would like the Minister of Justice to permit Quebec to be excluded from the application of the new legislation and to continue to apply the present legislation.

For Bill C-3 to be truly flexible, it should simply contain the following provision: “This legislation shall apply to all provinces, except Quebec. In the latter case, the provisions of the Young Offenders Act shall continue to apply”.

Genetically Modified Foods November 16th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, the large scale production of genetically modified organisms might result in the cross-pollination of surrounding fields, thus contaminating organic farming crops. This means that organic farmers could lose their certification.

What does the minister intend to do to meet the concerns of organic farmers who could lose their certification?

Supply November 16th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I would love to have the government's powers, because I would have introduced obligatory labeling long ago.

It is very simple. Two systems are necessary. Quebec, for example, has already instituted a system of food traceability. This requires being able to track food from the farm to the table. It is tracked in terms of whether it is transgenic, traditional or biological. This is how other countries operate.

When the hon. member speaks about the safety of food in this country, everything is fine, thank goodness, there are no problems, but we are still living in a world of risk management. I do not wish to be an alarmist, but we are not safe from everything.

So far, research and inspections are adequate. But if the government continues to pull back and leave all the responsibilities in the hands of companies, slaughterhouses or whatever, I have a serious concern.

Supply November 16th, 1999

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House this afternoon to speak on the motion put forward by the Progressive Conservative Party.

This motion comprises a number of elements, the main ones being the financial difficulties currently being experienced by Canadian farmers, Ottawa's incompetence in dealing with this issue, the failure of the federal government to assume responsibility and leadership with respect to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v Marshall, and the federal government's failed fisheries policies and its lack of vision.

I would like to share my time with my colleague from Lotbinière. This morning, my colleague from Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok spoke about fisheries.

Since we are sharing our time, I would like to spend time on the fourth point of the Progressive Conservatives' motion, that is, the lack of vision on the part of the government, something that very often results in a lack of leadership. I will relate this to a matter particularly dear to my heart, one I have spoken of quite frequently of late, and that is the matter of genetically modified foods. This is an issue in which the government has been very short on vision, and one that illustrates my thoughts very well.

First, it starts with inertia. For five years, our shopping baskets have contained genetically modified products, and up to now the government has not brought this to the attention of consumers. The delay is rather hard to explain and may be likened to a lack of transparency.

In the fall of 1997, when we were working on the matter, the agriculture committee recommended to the government unanimously that there be mandatory labelling so consumers buying the products would know what they had in their baskets and what they were eating. Knowing what one is eating is a basic right.

The government has not acted since 1998, except to say that labelling is optional in Canada and that we should wait until the issue comes up for debate. But it did not, with the result that events have now overtaken us.

We therefore find ourselves in another kind of debate with scientists, Health Canada employees, and all sorts of people on one side or the other, while the consumer, who is at the heart of the debate, cannot get a straight answer.

What are the short, medium and long term effects on health? We do not have all the answers to this question. Furthermore, what are the effects on the environment and soil degradation? What are the socioeconomic and legal impacts? There has been no follow-up and, in this final and very progressive century of the millennium, I do not think that an entire population can be left in the dark. I do not know how the government sees this, but I see it as a complete lack of vision.

There are all sorts of underlying issues. There is a lot of talk about consumers because, as users of all these products, they are on the front line, but agricultural producers should also be mentioned. They are also becoming increasingly concerned, and their concerns are twofold. Those producing genetically engineered food have questions about biological diversity.

What will happen if we continue to take this increasingly specialized approach? The diversity of seed available to farmers or producers is becoming extremely limited and is being controlled by a certain group of individuals, or companies, monopolizing the sale of agricultural products. This will inevitably lead to monoculture. In an agricultural context, it is a short leap from monoculture to the risk of a disease that can wipe out an entire crop.

Even those who are proactive on this issue and those who are now using genetically modified seed grain have questions, not all of which have been answered, although they should have been. This is the situation in which those farming with genetically modified organisms find themselves.

Then there are those involved in biological or traditional agriculture. They are ending up in a dangerous situation, because of their smaller fields, which will turn into veritable minefields, for pollen can be carried a very long way. In the spring, they were talking of one kilometre. Then a little later it was five, then twenty. This week I heard a figure of fifty.

How, then, is it possible to have the crops one desires in traditional agriculture, as in the case of Mr. Schmeiser, if one is in an area where there is airborne contamination? There is also a race for patents going on at the present time. All living things are on the verge of being patented. I do not know if this House is aware of the case of a mildly hallucinogenic plant that is used in the Amazon traditionally for medical and religious purposes. One day an American arrived on the scene and announced “This is a rather extraordinary plant, with major characteristics, so we are patenting it”.

The Amazon natives can no longer obtain the plant—which is about as common as dandelions are here in Canada—because it is patented. All these matters relate to ethics. If there are no standards for labelling transgenic food, there is no code of ethics when it comes to discoveries in a rapidly expanding field which affects us all.

This shows a lack of vision, a lack of leadership, and I would venture to say as well a lack of commitment by the government. Let us look at the situation. Since 1993, the budgets have not changed, they have been shrinking continually, and we have reached the threshold we were at in 1993 for research and development budgets.

If there is no funding, no basic research, there is a void, but a void is always filled. So it was filled with a transfer of responsibility that the companies supported, because there was no government expertise, no government funding or independent scientists to do this sort of research.

It is strange, because the government is going to negotiate at the WTO, where they will be talking of export subsidies and domestic support, but they should be talking about international trade barriers too. Such major countries as Japan, the European Community, Korea, Australia, Brazil and in fact a whole series of countries are currently requiring labelling of products containing genetically engineered food.

What are we going to do in this market if there has been no leadership? We will again see a lack of vision resulting in us losing ground it will be hard to make up.

Another comment arising from the situation is that there is some confusion in federal infrastructures leading to a lack of accountability. The entire field of biotechnology is the responsibility of the Department of Industry, product approval is the responsibility of the Department of Health, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports to the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food. Yet no one deals with all the environmental problems, since in terms of accountability and responsibility, no one looks after this area at Environment Canada. This matter is the responsibility of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Bouncing the ball back and forth leads to a problem of accountability, and this is what I contend today. The motion by my colleague from the Progressive Conservative Party contained a lot of elements, including the lack of vision. I think we have a responsibility as parliamentarians, and we must bear this in mind.