Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament April 1997, as Liberal MP for Madawaska—Victoria (New Brunswick)

Lost her last election, in 1997, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Quebec's Distinctiveness December 12th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the member who, for a while now, has seemingly become a part time opposition leader paid us a rare visit yesterday. Unfortunately, the heir to the throne did not come to Ottawa to help build a better country. Nor did he come to protect Quebec's interests.

The Bloc leader came to Ottawa to lead his troops in the charge against Quebec and its distinct society status. Historians will remind future generations that Quebec separatists were always opposed to the recognition of a distinct status for their province, and that it is thanks to the federal government if such status was finally obtained.

Transfer Payments December 8th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, after hearing the statements under Standing Order 31 by Bloc members, who were complaining that it was not enough, and the Reform members who said it was too much, I would think that the Liberals were very much the happy medium.

Yesterday the Quebec Minister of Finance made a statement at a press conference to the effect that Quebec will be able to balance its budget thanks to increased payments from Ottawa, of all places. The equalization payment program and the Canada assistance plan have added $268 million to the federal transfer payments to Quebec this past year.

It is, however, deplorable that the minister took advantage of her press conference to seek to downplay the value of those programs by comparing them to poverty traps and taxes on development. If one had to apply the minister's logic to the insurance field, we would end up with a insurance plan that paid victims of accidents but to which people would stop contributing-

Supply December 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear a question per se. I think researchers from the hon. member's office are providing some of the things he wants to put on the record.

With regard to the Charlottetown accord, the population of British Columbia also rejected the Charlottetown accord. The hon. member should keep his records straight. I want to make sure there is no bias in what is put into the record.

I find this motion somewhat petty. I cannot believe that everywhere we go, in every committee of the House, Reform Party members always take on democracy, democratic rights. Yet they are actually saying in this motion that democracy in B.C. is not alive and well because there is a government that should be calling an election in one year which was not elected in a democratic process and cannot assure and assume responsibility for all its citizens. That is what the motion is implying, that it does not have the mandate and the responsibility and that it was not elected in a democracy.

I do not know if they read what they wrote in this motion. It is an absolute bias. As far as I am concerned it destroys their entire argument and excuse which they advocate in the House and in every committee to put forward their petty politics.

The hon. member who put forth this motion states: "The aim of these changes would be to give aboriginals more responsibility for their well-being, the tools to discharge that responsibility and more accountability for their result". That is from a press release on Reform policy for aboriginal equality and accountability.

I am sorry, but we are dealing here with a motion coming from a member who says one thing one day and another thing another day, just like his leader.

Supply December 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on this undemocratic motion moved by the hon. member for the Reform Party.

It would seem that the hon. member does not support economic prosperity for British Columbians, as he is suggesting that we delay creating treaties that would remove an obstacle which has hampered economic growth in B.C. for far too long: the uncertainty over ownership of land and resources. That uncertainty has carried a very high price.

In 1990 a Price Waterhouse study asked forestry and mining interests in B.C. about the effects of the uncertainty created by unresolved land claims.

The study's findings are eloquent. In these two sectors alone, the study notes a loss of one billion dollars worth of investments: 300 new jobs in jeopardy, 1,500 permanent jobs on hold, and capital losses totalling $125 million due to uncertainty about the legal status of land and resources.

Since then we continue to pay the price of uncertainty, year after year. It is the price we pay for letting the situation deteriorate and for refusing to sit down with our aboriginal partners and discuss rational solutions to the real problems. That is the price the Reform Party would like us to keep paying.

We now have a chance to do something, to create jobs and to stimulate our economic growth. In September, Marlie Beets of the B.C. Council of Forest Industries had this to say: "Our members know that we cannot afford to ignore the issue of treaties. The forestry industry fully supports the efforts being made to resolve these problems, even if it is concerned about what these treaties may contain".

The forestry industry of B.C. understands what is involved. It knows that it cannot function efficiently without clear policies. It knows aboriginal rights must be defined clearly so that everyone

knows the rules of the game. It knows that the time has come to realize the potential of the province and to extend the opportunity for its people. It wants to get on with it.

The proposition is simple. Treaties will provide certainty and create a better climate for investment and economic growth. This is a reality which cannot be denied. A clear signal will be sent: B. C. is open for business.

Treaties will also provide a land base for aboriginal people and with it a foundation on which to build self-sufficient communities. It will allow aboriginal people to become involved in a range of economic activities which in the absence of a land base have been foreclosed to them.

Commercial activities like mining, forestry and tourism become far more possible to be pursued by First Nations. The growth of strong, self-reliant, economically vibrant aboriginal communities strengthen us all because it will bring positive economic spinovers into non-aboriginal communities.

For too long the aboriginal people of B.C. have been denied both their legal rights from the past and their hopes for the future.

For too long they have suffered as a result of high rates of unemployment, illiteracy, infant mortality and suicide. For too long we have refused to acknowledge their potential contribution to Canadian society. This is an attitude that cannot be justified, and it must stop.

Once rights and obligations have been clearly defined in treaties, all residents of British Columbia, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, will be able to develop the potential of their province and improve their own circumstances. That is good news for forestry workers and miners.

It means a broader tax base, since injecting settlement funds will stimulate the economy and job creation. It also means a reduction in the social cost of poverty and unemployment in aboriginal communities. It means an end to litigation and costly court proceedings and the beginning of co-operation and negotiation.

These historic problems will not disappear at the wave of a magic wand. As long as they remain unresolved, there will be no investment, and the jobs that could and should be created will remain in limbo.

The vicious circle will continue: uncertainty will lead to a reduction in the number of jobs which in turn will increase social problems.

The cycle of poverty and dependency will continue. These issues simply must be dealt with. We have a choice of how we are going to do it. We can litigate at great expense to the Canadian taxpayer knowing that at the end of this long, drawn out and often bitter process a court is likely to tell us to work out the details ourselves, something very similar to the negotiation process we have now.

Or we could negotiate directly from the outset. Surely it makes good economic sense to avoid costly court battles, which cast each party in the role of antagonist, and approach the issues as partners prepared to give and take in a spirit of trust and mutual respect.

There are real economic benefits in proceeding with treaties in B.C. but at the end of the day the most important benefit will not be felt in terms of dollars and cents. It will be felt in the lives of individuals as they are given the opportunity to contribute further to the greatness of Canada.

The benefits of holding a job cannot always be measured by a point on a graph. Having a job is really about hope. It means having the ability to plan for the future and to realize one's potential as well as to advance one's family. It means having the pride of contributing to the overall health of one's community. Is it better to leave things in a state of confusion or to sit down with our aboriginal colleagues and establish certainty?

Perhaps it is expecting too much to hope the Reform Party's vision of Canada is broad enough to include the first peoples or generous enough to expand the circle of opportunity or far sighted enough to see the wisdom in finally completing this great unfinished business of our history. Surely it is not expecting too much to ask the Reform Party to take a hard headed look at the economics of treaty negotiations and admit that it makes real sense.

Surely even Reformers can see the awful price we are paying for uncertainty. Surely even they can see the benefits of negotiation over litigation. I hope they do see these benefits when it comes time to vote on this motion and that they join us in denouncing this short sighted and meanspirited motion.

Edmunston Diocese December 7th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, Sunday, December 10, will mark the end of a

series of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Edmunston.

During the past year, a group of volunteers in the diocese, under the able leadership of Jean Pilot, organized a variety of activities for the young and not so young. Thanks to these activities, this event was celebrated with enthusiasm and style.

The final day of the 50th anniversary celebrations will be marked by a solemn high mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Edmunston, followed by a Christmas concert.

The motto of the Diocese of Edmunston, "Son amour s'étend d'âge en âge", illustrates the optimism and sense of sharing that prevails over any differences that exist in our community.

I want to take this opportunity to wish my constituents a day filled with joy and happiness.

Recognition Of Quebec As A Distinct Society November 29th, 1995

I guess some members of this House cannot take the truth when they hear it. When I hear members say that the system does not work-I would like the hon. member to comment on this-and talk about areas of responsibility and jurisdiction-

Personally, as a New Brunswicker, I find that totally unacceptable. I cannot understand that the people of Quebec would go along with that. Dropping out of school is a serious problem in Quebec in an area of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. This is totally unacceptable.

At a time when the whole world is moving toward a major achievement in ensuring education for people of all ages, wherever they live, Quebec is stalling. And this is an exclusive provincial jurisdiction.

As for what the hon. member opposite said, I think he should take a good look at his government's policies.

Recognition Of Quebec As A Distinct Society November 29th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I did not find a question in what the hon. member opposite said but, in his remarks, he complained about the Prime Minister's unwillingness to entrench the principles of distinct society in the Constitution, when the Leader of the Opposition himself is on record as saying that he did not want to deal with constitutional changes any more.

A minimum of consistency is indicated, do you not think? Public statements cannot be made to mean different things from day to day, depending on the circumstances. Our colleague from the Bloc Quebecois also indicated that he was in favour of a partnership with Canada. The Canadian federation is indeed a partnership between

the ten provinces and the two territories. There is no bigger and better example of partnership than what we have right now.

Take the European Community for example. These countries are in the process of establishing a federation like ours because they have seen how successful this kind of partnership is. So, when I hear-

Recognition Of Quebec As A Distinct Society November 29th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, I thank you and I thank my colleagues for this expression of great democracy in the House.

I thank our Prime Minister who fulfilled his commitments and those of Canadians from all across the country. Contrary to what these horror story tellers and these wizards have said, we did in fact act with respect and honour before, during and after the October 30 referendum, whether or not it suits these separatists who would like to swindle Quebecers out of a promising future within Canada.

Recognition Of Quebec As A Distinct Society November 29th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, you may rest assured I am not rising to sing. As a French Canadian, however, I am delighted to speak at this historic moment on the motion of the Prime Minister recognizing that the people of "la belle province" form a distinct society within our country and ensuring that our legislation and our actions will be guided by this reality.

A few weeks ago, Canadians from sea to sea showed their support for Quebec with a demonstration in Montreal and a number of other activities.

Our Prime Minister on our behalf and on his own, as a proud Quebecer and an honest Canadian, is confirming his commitment to recognize Quebec's distinct society. I applaud him on my own behalf and on behalf of the people of Madawaska-Victoria and especially on behalf of all the people of Canada who believe in the strength, determination and positive vision of his leadership for the future of our country and of our children, wherever they may be in this great and wonderful country.

During the referendum period, I canvassed people's homes. I also listened to the fine emotional speeches devoid of truth given by the separatist wizards in Quebec. How can anyone be trying, in a democratic and modern society, to lull Quebecers to sleep as in the time of Duplessis?

The PQ even spent millions on hidden studies to see if they could not come up with an extra dose of sleeping tablets so Quebecers would swallow all their speeches.

From his emperor's throne, the leader of the Bloc even dared tamper with the freedom of the women of Quebec-ah, white only and preferably old stock-telling them they should be pregnant and in the kitchen. I can assure you that if such a statement had been aimed at women in New Brunswick or Canada, the Canadian society as a whole, not just women, would have been up in arms and would have deposited the leader, regardless of his political allegiance.

A while ago, I listened to the leader of the opposition, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois. I must say that if I were in a position to give him an award, a trophy for his separatist theatrics, I would do it right now in recognition of the drama he added to the debate this afternoon.

I noted, among other things, that this great actor talked about the prime minister doing an about face concerning Quebec as a distinct society. This great actor who likes to talk about other politicians doing about faces should look at his own track record regarding his political allegiance over the past 20 years. When it was opportune to be a federalist, he espoused the federalist discourse, but when a separatist discourse became more opportune, he went that way.

The past 20 years in the life of this great actor will result in his being remembered in history books in Quebec as the number one actor in terms of the Quebec people and its future.

I can understand the total confusion of the Bloc Quebecois leader who, today in this House, must decide whether or not he will support the recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, at a time when he is making grand political speeches as he prepares to embark on another great adventure, heading for political life in Quebec. I can see his confusion.

Honestly, does he really believe in the distinct society for Quebecers? Does he believe in it or will he try once again, for personal political gain, to trick the Quebec people into following him?

I would also like to remind the leader of the Bloc that, when they talk about respect, when they ask for respect for the Quebec people, naturally they must also respect all of the Canadian population, people like me, a French Canadian living in New-Brunswick, not in English speaking Canada like the grand master of this terminology, former Prime Minister Mulroney, taught them repeatedly. He also spoke of tearing up the Constitution. I must admit he is a good pupil of the former Prime Minister of Canada.

Today's leadership will no doubt be followed by that of provincial premiers who will certainly look after their own interests first. I would like to remind them that there must be some kind of basis for these interests, a foundation if you will. Since the foundation of our country in 1867, Quebec has been recognized, not in so many words but by institutions; just read the 1867 Constitution. Each pillar of the foundation supports our country, Canada, and is part of it.

My Quebec roots go back to 1642 when my ancestors settled in the Boucherville region and I am proud to be a French Canadian like the more than a million others all over Canada who feel close to the seven million Quebecers and share their pride.

I am one of those who want to build and not destroy, one of those who welcome the global challenges of the year 2000. We should join together, not go our separate ways like some egocentric politicians are preaching.

I did not sing, even tough my heart and my head agree with this motion.

Aboriginal Land Claims Commission November 28th, 1995

Mr. Speaker, the motion is:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the advisability of establishing a new, independent aboriginal land claims commission, as recommended in the 1994-95 annual report of the Indian Claims Commission.

I appreciate the way the hon. member for The Battlefords-Meadow Lake has phrased this motion. We are considering the advisability.

The hon. member knows this is a complex issue. He knows we cannot act precipitously. He knows there are many different perspectives and that First Nations themselves have some reservations about how an independent claims commission would affect the claims process.

The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has been discussing these issues with the First Nations. We hope a consensus will be reached but in the meantime the debate over the hon. member's motion will help this House focus on some of the issues involved.

I would like to remind the House of the process now in place. It is a process that has been used successfully in the past although there is certainly room for improvement. At present, there are six steps to processing a specific claim.

In the first step the First Nation submits a claim along with supporting documents to the specific claims branch of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The branch then determines whether the claim meets the submission criteria of the policy.

Second, the submitted research contained in the supporting documents is analyzed and verified for completeness. The department works with the First Nation to prepare a historical report and analysis. Both parties must agree on the report. This is what is known as the research step, and it can take a long time to complete.

The third step is acceptance or non-acceptance of the claim. The specific claims branch of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development obtains legal opinions on the claim and a decision is made to accept or not accept the claim for negotiation. If the claim is accepted, we move on to the fourth step: negotiation. The specific claims branch negotiates with the claimant First Nation on the value of the losses and prepares an authority to settle.

In the fifth step, the specific claims branch and the claimant First Nation agree on compensation and provision for settlement and agreement in principle is struck. The agreement is drafted by the Department of Justice and First Nation lawyers into a formal settlement agreement. Finally, the settlement agreement is ratified and implemented.

This is a long and painstaking process. There is a fast-track procedure for claims less than $500,000 in which some of the six steps are shortened.

Where does the Indian Specific Claims Commission come into play? If in the course of these steps Canada turns down the claim, the First Nation has a number of options: it can withdraw its claim; it can move to litigation; it can present new documentation and legal arguments; or the First Nation can request a review of the department's decision by the Indian Specific Claims Commission. The commission has been established to resolve such disputes and it can subpoena records and witnesses. It can help the government and claimant First Nations arrange mediation.

The commission's 1994-95 annual report indicates an involvement in mediation of five claims. The commission also pointed out in this report that it had received 98 requests, 42 of which were in progress. The commission reported eight completed inquiries.

Let me tell members about one case where the ISCC was instrumental. In the Chippewas of the Thames inquiry, the Muncey land claim, the First Nation had rejected settlement twice before the commission became involved. The original point of contention about the surrender of land was resolved early in the ISCC process and a fresh settlement agreement was negotiated and ratified on January 28, 1995.

Let me briefly explain how the commission works. If the department has not accepted a claim, the commission can make recommendations on whether the First Nation has established that Canada has an outstanding lawful obligation. If the department has accepted the claim, but the First Nation disagrees with the compensation criteria, the commission can recommend which compensation criteria should apply to the negotiation and settlement of the specific claim.

There are five steps the Indian Specific Claims Commission goes through. First, it receives a First Nation's request for a review of the Department's decision. Second, it decides whether or not to review the decision. Third, the ISCC gathers all relevant information from the First Nation and Canada in relation to the specific claim, including the opinions of experts. The ISCC will also go into the claimant community and record the testimony or information of the members of the First Nation. Fourth, representatives from both the First Nation and the government argue their case by setting out their interpretation of facts, legal views, and conclusions. Finally,

the commission makes its recommendations based on the existing specific claims policy.

The commission does have some limitations. It cannot consider a claim based on unextinguished aboriginal title. These matters would be the subject of a comprehensive claim under a separate policy.

What is the value of the commission? First, it provides an opportunity for a body other than a court to review Canada's decision. Second, the commission has been successful in bringing both sides together with an impartial, neutral third party as a mediator. The mediator has no decision making power, but he or she does have the power to direct and interpret the exchange of information. This influences perceptions, preferences and demands of both parties and it often implies possible lines of agreement.

This is the system that now exists. The system has its challenges. First Nations have expressed a concern that the commission is named by the government and therefore, in spite of the best intentions, cannot shake off the appearance of bias. The process is cumbersome. The commission intervenes only after a First Nation has been turned down by the department.

We will explore many options in the course of debating the motion from the hon. member. However, what we must bear in mind is that no changes should be made without the concurrence of the First Nations.

The minister has been consulting with the First Nations and I am very confident that a consensus will be reached. In the meantime, this exploration of the issues arising from this motion is most welcome.