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

Genetically Modified Foods May 31st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I would need an hour to refute some of the things that were said by members who spoke before me; yet I only have ten minutes, but I will surely have other opportunities to do so. First and foremost, I want to express my support to the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre and to thank her for tabling Motion No. 252, asking the government to take immediate steps to implement a labelling process that will make us consumers aware of what foods are genetically modified.

Far from being an attack on biotechnologies, the hon. member's motion is a serious initiative asking that light be shed on the scientific process used to approve these foods and to evaluate their potential long term effects on health, on the environment and now on culture, agriculture and international trade.

What is great is that the more we look at this issue, the more components we must take a stand on as members of parliament.

I want to tell the House that we are not scaremongers, that we are definitely not sheep, and that we do not belong to any sect. Let us be very clear. The fact that we want to inform our fellow citizens and to get to the bottom of things does not put us in any of these categories, on the contrary. We are members of parliament with a responsibility for what goes on in society, and it so happens that GMOs are a new and growing phenomenon.

I would like to say, particularly, in response to my honourable colleague from Egmont, that we read everything that has been written, everything that has been said, everything we can get our hands on about the subject. What was done two years ago in committees, what was produced by the government two years ago, we also read. I should point out, however, that this is a constantly evolving field and so a person has to be constantly updating. What was being said two or three years ago is very quickly out of date, I believe.

There is one other thing I would like to add. There is talk of labelling. and there is an adjective I really feel must be added to that, mandatory. I will explain why. In the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food, we received some people responsible for voluntary labelling. We came to realize immediately that this was a problem: no two organizations share the same definition of what a GMO is.

It is clearly evident from our readings, whether from the USA or Japan—in translation obviously—or from Europe, that there is near-complete agreement on reference to GMOs as relating to the mechanisms of recombinant DNA, and procedures for detecting genes that have been created in a laboratory in order to confer new characteristics to organisms to which they are transferred.

Now another totally different subject is cropping up very regularly: mutagenesis, which is something completely different. It is a totally different process, one which refers to chemical or physical actions on genes which result in certain progress changes in the organism.

Now they are trying to lump these two together. The resulting whole is something that no one can grasp. The result: confusion in both scientific and consumer communities. All this confusion gives us more time to do nothing.

Speaking of doing nothing, I listened very politely to the government member. Ways must also be found to centralize action and information. I did a small calculation and came up with eight ministers responsible for this issue. I often say that having one minister and one agency to deal with is already a lot; but if this is multiplied by eight, action is sure to grind to a halt.

So we are thus being given more time, and on this issue, more time is not what we want. What we want is to inform consumers, the public, as quickly as possible and to reassure ourselves about the effects of genetically modified organisms, especially on health and on the environment.

I can hear certain members asking whether I know of anyone who has died from eating GMOs. I find talk like that so simplistic that I have a tendency to become annoyed, although I am usually even-tempered.

I will tell members why I get annoyed: I get annoyed because we must not minimize this issue. We must be wise enough to tackle it head on and examine it thoroughly. All sorts of things can happen: there are environmental diseases, which we are hearing about with increasing frequency, allergies, resistance to antibiotics. Perhaps there is no connection with GMOs, but what we do know is that, right now, nobody is studying this or has proven otherwise.

It is very simple. We always met with representatives of Health Canada in the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. They told us they were there merely to obtain budgets to start assessments on humans, in other words on us, the consumers.

The thought is that there must be medium and long term evaluations, but the budgets are just starting to come through. When the government talks of budgets, believe me, that does not mean that the studies are begun.

Why not take the precaution of taking time to do these analyses before getting into an evolution that cannot be reversed, because it moves ahead too rapidly? The hope is that the consumer will be well informed. As we begin a new century, one so anxiously awaited, we ought to have labelling that is readily understood, quick to be inaugurated, and mandatory. We have seen that making it voluntary opened up all manner of opportunities for getting around it and for not holding this debate.

This is part of what we are calling for, and we will continue the debate in all possible forums until we have that certainty.

It is a year now—this almost feels like an anniversary to me— since I started the tour, petitions on GMOs and the demands for mandatory labelling. I also called for the public to be informed and trained, not to send out a little propaganda pamphlet to people's homes telling them to wash their hands before they eat, on the right hand page, while on the page opposite treating GMOs as if there were nothing to worry about, no questions to be asked.

Consumers have questions. Without wishing to contradict the member who spoke before me, we know that consumers have questions. There have been surveys for years. The results are always the same. We all want the same thing—information—and information means mandatory labelling of transgenic foods.

There is so much going on right now. Last week, I was listening to a greenhouse grower who produces tomatoes. He tried to label his tomatoes as not containing GMOs. Major food stores, which I will not name but which can be found throughout the region, would not let him label his tomatoes “not transgenic” because apparently if the other tomatoes were not labelled, it might have given the impression that they were transgenic.

Farmers do not have much leeway, but consumers do not have any at all. That is why I am supporting my colleague's motion and why we are pushing for results on this issue, because we want everything to be analysed: the effects on health, as well as the effects on ethics and on the economy, social and environmental effects and, of course and above all, for me, the effects on agriculture because that is my particular concern. I will be following this issue.

Petitions May 31st, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition from the people of my riding.

The petition is signed by 969 people who are calling for Parliament to promptly enact legislation on the mandatory labelling of foods that are wholly or partially genetically modified.

Genetically Modified Organisms May 30th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, in his report tabled today, the commissioner of the environment deplores the federal government's approach to biosafety and more specifically to GMOs.

In black and white, the report states that the final bargaining position, in both Cartagena and Montreal, strongly reflected Canada's commercial concerns.

Does the Minister of the Environment intend to ratify the protocol on biosafety, which is currently being discussed, in order to put human health and the environment ahead of commercial concerns? Will he sign the protocol?

Petitions May 19th, 2000

Madam Speaker, I have the pleasure of presenting a petition bearing 1,155 names. This petition calls for the mandatory labelling of genetically engineered foors.

In order to label them, it must be known whether they are modified or not, and this would avoid the disaster they are facing in Europe. It is therefore my pleasure to submit this petition.

Transgenic Seeds May 19th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, will the minister admit that, because of his refusal to strictly control field testing activities and to label all products, Canadian farmers could lose access to export markets?

Transgenic Seeds May 19th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, we learned that transgenic canola seeds from the Canadian prairies were sowed in several European countries, because of a lack of information. The seeds are believed to have been contaminated in the fields by plantations located over 800 metres away.

Will the Minister of Agriculture recognize that, if he does not ensure strict control of field testing activities, he will have to take a large part of the blame for the bad image that Canada is developing at the international level regarding GMOs?

Grands Prix Du Tourisme Gala May 17th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, at the gala of the Grands Prix du tourisme québécois held last Friday at the Convention Centre, in Quebec City, 11 awards were handed out to the greater Quebec City region.

This is to the credit of those involved in the tourist industry who, for a long time now, have been very innovative in showing the multiple facets of our national capital.

Because of our fine restaurants, the works of our artists, songwriters and authors, and the warm hospitality of our residents, Quebec City is a must-see destination.

For almost four centuries, the birthplace of French America, which was built by Champlain, Frontenac, Montmagny, Vaudreuil, Lévis, Salaberry and Bourlamaque, has turned into a beautiful capital we have every reason to be proud of.

I say bravo to those who were nominated, to the winners of the Grands Prix du tourisme and regional gala awards, and to all the stakeholders who, every day, contribute to making Quebec City a prime destination.

Genetically Modified Organisms May 15th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, at its conference in Quebec City this past weekend, the Ordre des diététistes du Québec examined the issue of GMOs. It is calling for mandatory food labelling and more thorough studies into the potential impacts of transgenic foods on health.

What is the Minister of Health waiting for? Do all the professional corporations have to demand the same thing of him?

Genetically Modified Organisms May 10th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, with the government's inaction on the matter of the GMOs, the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy and researchers Anne Clark and Bert Christie yesterday submitted a request to the auditor general, asking him to review the GMO regulations, labelling and approval process.

Does the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food realize that his lack of transparency and his government's lack of action in the matter of the GMOs are causing considerable harm to biotechnology by discrediting it in the eyes of the public?

Genetically Modified Organisms May 8th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, in the plans for reorganization of the federal Department of Health, released this past April 17, there are no specific provisions guaranteeing the safety of genetically modified foods?

Despite the crying lack for expertise relating to GMOs, the Deputy Minister of Health has announced federal government plans to approve 500 new GMOs over the next five years.

How can the Minister of Health plan to approve more than 500 new genetically modified products when his own department does not have the capacity to guarantee the safety of GMOs?