House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was society.

Last in Parliament October 2000, as Liberal MP for Mount Royal (Québec)

Won her last election, in 1997, with 62% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Matthew Da Costa Development Corporation March 25th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, March 16, I had the pleasure of participating in a concrete action in support of the economic life of Montreal's Black community.

On that occasion, the hon. secretary of state responsible for economic development for Quebec announced a $1.25 million investment in the Matthew Da Costa development corporation, providing it with the necessary tools to continue to ensure the economic development of the Black community and at the same time make a contribution to the entire Montreal region.

Job creation is a concern shared by all Canadians, and this program shows how our government is committed to helping small and medium size businesses through innovative solutions.

I am delighted that the Matthew Da Costa fund has received $125 million from the Government of Canada, along with money from Quebec as well as the FTQ foundation.

Supply March 12th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, my sense is that this is an important undertaking. I enjoyed the fact that the Bloc Quebecois decided to use this opportunity to discuss in the House what has been done in the interest of children, youth, and seniors in society.

The government chose to put $2.5 billion in a fund to be administered outside the government by quality leadership and with representation of youth and of the provinces. This was at the request and consideration of the Council of Education Ministers.

Members choose to ignore the tax credits and child programs. We have put $1.7 billion into the enriched child tax credit. We have undertaken to ensure libraries and schools are interconnected with the Internet. Every school will have a co-ordinator. I find it sad that they cannot stand and say they agree because a lot has been done.

First and foremost we have a balanced budget. We have been able to put in order the finances of the nation. It was not an easy task. It was not easy for the population. The people of the country tightened their belts and had less discretionary funds. They contributed to putting the financial house in order.

Once the foundation is there we are able to build without undue cost. We can move to further solidify that foundation and enrich our society through the intellectual property we have with good grace.

Supply March 12th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, it is quite something to follow our Minister of Human Resources Development. He is a most articulate as well as competent spokesperson in the interests of the well-being of transferring wealth in a fair and equitable way across the country, except sometimes I think Quebec gets more than its fair share. Notwithstanding that, as a Quebecker I am pleased to see some improvement in the state of the nation in Quebec.

Let us look at the level of unemployment. The level of unemployment of our young people between 15 and 24 years of age increased from 13% in 1989 to 18.9% in 1996.

That is an increase of nearly 50%. Moreover, young people with a low qualification level are more affected. For example, 56.4% of income security recipients under 30 years of age did not finish high school.

This last fact must be considered in the context of certain data on the evolution of jobs in Quebec according to the education level required. Between 1990 and 1997, data show that the number of jobs requiring a post-secondary or university degree increased by 471,000, whereas the number of jobs requiring a lesser level of education decreased by 384,000.

Let us look at the combination of those figures. There has been a dramatic change in the employment portrait in Quebec for many reasons. We are looking at 855,000 job shifts, 471,000 in the interests of those who have post-secondary education and a loss of 384,000 for those who have not as yet finished their secondary education. There is also a 56.4% dropout rate.

These are figures from Madam Harel with whom I had the pleasure of working at the anniversary of the black community resource centre. We discussed the importance of education and the importance of addressing the changing world of work in which we live.

Young people today need the proper kind of training and advantages so that they can face the new millennium with the newest of skills and the latest of technology at their fingertips. If they do not have that, the potential for no jobs or poor jobs indicates a very sad reality for them. It becomes more and more important to look at what we can do to prepare people through education.

Epidemiologists say that one measures a healthy society in the kind of efforts we put in as a government. It is regardless of which government because basically members on all sides of the House are really interested in the well-being of the people. It is a matter of how the well-being of the people is interpreted.

Our perspective of the well-being of people is we looked at the millennium fund. As the minister so eloquently stated, rather than putting it into bricks and mortar, into fancy designs or houses or buildings, we have decided to invest in our intellectual capital.

We are investing in our young people so that tomorrow they will be able to face the world in a far more constructive and open minded way. They will change jobs two or three times, unlike the situation with my generation where we took a job and we were there for life or until we got our gold watch at 65. Now they will have to look at other options in life.

The millennium scholarships fund is very exciting and dynamic. It is responsive to a changing world. It shows we are a government with a vision which has been building along with governments before it on helping the future of our country. It is your future and my future, your businesses and our businesses. It is extracting from the best the guidelines to the future for our families.

As I listened to much of this debate and the questions, I asked myself what I would think if I were an ordinary citizen in the world. Would I not believe that investing in my children and grandchildren was the most wonderful thing a government can do? Would I not believe if the government plans for the future well-being of our total society by addressing the futures of those young people, that it is investing in our well-being?

Epidemiologists say that a well educated society is a much healthier society. It will reduce the costs of our social services and health services. It will improve the quality of life within our society. That is why the finance minister has ensured a program of quality and worth which is worthy of praise rather than condemnation.

I lived for nine years on the opposition benches. I lived in opposition and I know it is the opposition's task, its job and its responsibility to pick and to criticize. But even when I sat on that side, if something of quality was presented, I found it within my conscience, within my right and within my responsibility to respond to the needs of my electors, that even if I did not want to thank the government, at least not to use the kind of negativism I have been hearing from the other side of the House. It is a shame.

This is one of the most exciting and dynamic approaches we could possibly want for the young people in my riding. It is offering them an incredible scholarship procedure. This is part of the building tool. I hate to make it so mundane as to say it is the icing on the cake but really it is the top of the layers we have been building in the hope for the future.

We should look at the approaches that could lead to a better future for our children and guarantee that we will not have a 56% dropout rate, which is appalling? This will not help anybody in Quebec and is not in our best interests.

I do not care what your political views are or wether you are a man or a woman. The parents of these children do not see a very bright future ahead. These children will have to go elsewhere to get what they need. Perhaps they will turn to drugs or to something else because they do not have a vision of the future.

Young people can be given a chance, particularly those from low and middle income families, by being offered finances. We should ensure that they will be able to get through university training, that they have the qualifications to do it.

We are a city that has a most delightfully exciting cultural mix with bright, intelligent young people who in many instances are unable to look to the future. They do not see being able to afford a post-secondary education whether in college, university or a retraining program.

There is much in the millennium scholarship fund. Hon. members should refer back to what the minister had to say and to the budget books we have seen. In the end, even if they have to stand and cross their fingers because they are in opposition, I am sure they will find it to be an absolutely extraordinary undertaking.

Gabrielle Léger March 12th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, we offer our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Gabrielle Léger, who died Tuesday evening in Ottawa after a courageous battle with cancer.

Mr. Speaker, let me remind you that in 1976 Madam Léger read the Speech from the Throne in this House, a most unique event in our history.

In 1978 Heritage Canada created the Gabrielle Léger award in honour of this great lady's contribution to the preservation of our Canadian heritage. The award has since become Canada's premier honour in the heritage field.

This distinguished recipient of the Order of Canada was chancellor of the University of Ottawa from 1979 to 1985.

Mrs. Léger was devoted to charitable organizations here and in the third world. She was especially committed to the foundation named after two brothers, Paul-Émile and Jules Léger, and served as honourary president—

The Budget February 25th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, as Canadians we have much to be proud of today. We have demonstrated that this federal government has a vision for tomorrow, a vision that is based on the well-being of its people.

It is a budget that addresses our children, our youth and our elderly. We have demonstrated a commitment for the protection of those most in need. We have developed a dynamic millennium project, an educational plan to ensure Canadians of a leading role in the new technological society. Our young people are going to be prepared for the future.

The benefits of this budget are broad and far reaching. It comes at a most appropriate time, as the Black Community Resource Centre in the Mount Royal riding celebrates its first anniversary and as we all celebrate black history month.

While we rejoice in the achievements of the black community across Canada, we are at the same time able to apply this budget to one of its important local endeavours in the interests of black youth and their future.

National Head Start Program February 19th, 1998

Madam Speaker, it was my intention to speak at this moment in the House notwithstanding that I have sat here slightly aggravated in listening to the presentation by the Bloc Quebecois speaker.

There is a comment I must make before I give up the balance of my time to the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. He cancelled a flight in order to be here, disappointing his constituency, and to reflect his respect for the subject matter. I will be pleased to give him his time, but in one moment please.

The member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca has presented a very important motion, the concept of which I fully support. The mechanism is a matter for discussion just so long as the ends are found.

The Bloc Quebecois' narrowness of spirit and narrowness of view is totally reflected in a lack of understanding in this North American continent and in fact within the western nations that share many of these problems, the issues of what to do for youth, for children, particularly prebirth, prenatal and immediately following birth, love, nurturing, affection, emotion and how to be a parent.

All these are issues we are all looking at. It is hard to know the reason why we have the number of young people acting out as the member pointed out in his speech.

I just wanted to highlight that if we were to put these walls around Quebec so that we should not be, God forbid, working together federal, provincial and municipal and volunteer associations and researchers, we would be losing or perhaps duplicating and wasting money.

I refer them to a study on crime prevention by Dr. Tremblay in Montreal. He was the director for youth protection in the province of Quebec. My colleagues who were the directors of youth protection and I have looked at all kinds of programs worldwide, in particular in Canada, including Quebec. We would have looked at Dr. Tremblay's longitudinal study on the root of criminal behaviour. It can often be traced back to childhood experiences, the reasons for aggressive behaviour.

Researchers have begun to investigate the protective factors that allow a child to be resilient and to succeed despite bleak negative environments. Their research has revealed that resilient children generally have certain characteristics. This can all be found in the initiatives of the Canadian government combined with the provincial governments. It was done under safer communities, a parliamentary crime prevention guide. The status of women's group was very much involved with this as were parental groups and many others.

I suggest that the Bloc take heed of what this member has brought to this House. It should look at ways of implementing it. Never mind the name, never mind the party. Just look at the possibility of addressing a very serious problem that we do not want recycled generation after generation.

Justice February 13th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, some courts have now ruled the law on access to the counselling records of sexual assault complainants unconstitutional while others have rendered a different verdict. They have upheld that legislation.

What will the Minister of Justice do to bring consistency so as to protect the right to privacy for sexual assault complainants, privacy which once lost cannot be regained?

Supply February 10th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, you asked for a very short question and I will therefore ask such a question to my colleague, with all due respect and considering that he has the right to explain and defend his ideas. Could the hon. member tell me why he did not want to accept the amendment moved by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, which was to include in the motion before the House the words “respecting the rule of law and the principle of democracy for all”? Why did he not want to deal with this amendment and accept it?

Supply February 10th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I listened with a great deal of interest to the presentation of my honourable colleague. I would ask her two simple questions. First of all, does she believe in asking the people of Quebec once, twice or three times? How many times does she want to ask the people of Quebec what their views are and then when is she going to be ready to accept the expressed will of the people of Quebec? That is my first question.

My second question deals with how you train people to count votes and how you teach young people democracy. Is it by teaching them to look at a voting slip and accept a voting slip based on what has been indicated is the will of the people? Is it to teach them how to be un peu croches and reject 86,000, 100,000 votes? How many tens of thousands of votes are you allowed to reject based on disinformation and poor counting and then have to be recounted how many times?

So tell me about this very democratic society that puts an unclear question, says no twice and does not count the votes properly. Is that democracy in Quebec?

Middle East February 9th, 1998

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga West. The United States has formally requested Canada's assistance in a possible air strike against Iraq, enforcing Iraq to uphold United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Although the United States has not requested combat troops, it has requested non-combative military support. Before any military support or actions could ensue, and in the hope of protection for innocent victims, we must carefully examine the ramifications of a possible air strike.

Canada has set examples through its peacekeeping forces and through initiatives such as removing land mines to make the world free and allow children to run. It will continue to protect innocent victims from being persecuted by any force in many corners of the globe.

It is, however, in our best interest and in the interest of those directly affected to work toward a workable diplomatic solution to this situation. In the event of diplomatic failure we must act as a conscientious nation, believing in peace, order and responsible government. We must stand behind the United Nations to protect the lives of innocent people.

Nuclear development by Iraq and the continual creation of germ warfare technologies by Dr. Germ is something we cannot overlook. It cannot be overlooked by the United Nations, Canada or any other nation.

Based on precedence alone, the United Nations cannot stand by and allow Saddam Hussein to continue his production of tools of mass destruction.

We are dealing with a man of no conscience. Saddam Hussein is a leader who has repressed his own people and viciously attacked the peoples of surrounding countries. Therefore we cannot sit by naively in the hopes that his development of nuclear warfare will have no grave repercussions all around the world.

We must not lose sight of Saddam Hussein's wanton and reckless aggression. He turned chemical weapons upon his own people in Iraq in 1988 with complete disregard for human life.

In 1991 Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles against Saudi Arabia and Israel. By all accounts he is continuing to develop tools of destruction and the means to deliver them. Other nations are guilty by association and by helping his supply. This is all in direct violation of explicit UN security council resolutions.

Israel suffered 39 Scud missile attacks during the gulf war. The population had to don gas masks. It was traumatic. It is reported by the United Nations chief arms inspectors in Iraq that Israel is to be a potential target of Iraqi missiles, this time, however, armed with chemical weapons which could wipe out large segments of its population and potentially that of others in the surrounding areas.

The possibility of such an attack is frightening beyond measure. The world has never been faced with such a threat or such a horrific form of devastation.

It is for those reasons we must make a call to the world to force Saddam Hussein to respect United Nations resolutions. The need for the international community including Canada to confront and stop Iraq is a necessity for all those who are concerned with global peace and security.

I was in synagogue at 7.30 this morning saying memorial prayers for my late sister, Joan Abbey Pass, and my late Uncle Nathan Cummings. A young man, David Schneiderman, was there also for his late dad. He read a poem that I feel is pertinent to the grave situation we face tonight. It is called “Why Do We Pray”. It is an excerpt from “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Harold Kushner and reads:

We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end war; For we know that You have made the world in a way That man must find his own path to peace Within himself and his neighbour.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end starvation For You have already given us the resources With which to feed the entire world If we would only use them wisely.

We cannot pray to You, O God, to root out prejudice For You have already given us eyes With which to see the good in all people If we would only use them rightly.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair, For You have already given us the power To clear away slums and to give hope If we would only use our power justly.

We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease, For You have already given us great minds with which to search out cures and healing If we would only use them constructively.

Therefore we pray to You instead, O God For strength, determination and will power, To do instead of to just pray; To become instead of merely to wish.

I believe that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke unequivocally about the reality of Saddam Hussein when she called the Iraqi president a liar, an obstructionist. I wish he would listen and would read this prayer and put it into practice. When she was talking about his approach to arms inspection she said he had lied, delayed, obstructed and tried to deceive.

Our foreign affairs minister and our prime minister have said that the conduct of the Government of Iraq is not acceptable at this point. All of us favour long term stability in the Middle East and the building of a safe, secure and economically viable region for all people who choose to live there. Therefore we must find the means to apply effective international pressure on Saddam Hussein and stop his never ending challenge to the UN arms inspectors and his ignoring of the United Nations and the development of potential horrendous death weapons.

In the end it is the Arab Middle East which faces the gravest danger of weapons of mass destruction. That is why we must stand behind the United Nations in order to secure peace and stability for our world and generations to come. Let us home Saddam Hussein comes to his senses and let some nations of the world stop selling them arms. Let our diplomacy work in the interest of all mankind.