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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

United Nations Universal Declaration Of Human Rights December 10th, 1996

Madam Speaker, almost 50 years ago, the United Nations approved conventions, principles of recognition and monitoring mechanisms, which all reflect the overwhelming desire of the international community to recognize all the various aspects of the indivisible, inalienable and fundamental rights of individuals. We are now having this little debate and you have just alluded to this important issue.

We want gender equality, which means all the inalienable rights every woman and man should have in our society. The most sensitive and difficult issue in my mind is the fact that, in the past, we used to talk about "droits de l'homme". I think the time has come to replace that expression with "droits de la personne".

Since the hon. member also referred to this issue earlier, can he enlighten us on the differences between "droits de l'homme" and "droits de la personne"?

United Nations Universal Declaration Of Human Rights December 10th, 1996

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague has the privilege of heading an incredibly effective agency, CIDA. I have been witness to much of its work. I congratulate him on its undertaking.

I would suggest to my hon. colleague that there is a lot of questions from some Canadians who are not as well informed about the importance of interlinking countries, both developing and underdeveloped countries, with democracies like Canada.

They ask when we are in difficulty here, why are we spending money elsewhere. What do we plan to accomplish by helping women through micro credit or the World Bank, or building bridges or teaching farming and agriculture, marketing and good production, civics and civism and democracy? What does that have to do with us when we are poor, hungry and when we need to be looked after? Dollars here first. Charity begins at home.

I wonder if the hon. minister would care to comment.

United Nations Universal Declaration Of Human Rights December 10th, 1996

Madam Speaker, today we are approaching the 50th year of the magna carta of human kind. When the United Nations General Assembly adopted this magna carta, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on December 10, 1948, United Nation member states committed themselves to recognize the inherent dignity of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.

I want to thank the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, for agreeing to launch on this day this important debate. I would encourage all people to think about these matters over the coming year and plan some activity to celebrate next year's 50th anniversary.

I also wish to express appreciation to the Hon. Walter McLean, a colleague of this House for many years, a secretary of state himself, who has been very instrumental in raising all these issues and talking about the importance of planning ahead.

This declaration was a powerful idea that inspired us. It recognized that we all have rights as human beings.

That is not because we inhabit a particular country, are the product of a particular class, of a particular group or the product of a particular ethnic background; it is because we exist as human beings.

This declaration was drafted by a really fine Canadian. I am glad that my colleague in the Bloc noted this in his remarks. I know that the family of John Humphrey and John Humphrey himself would have been very proud of this day. Unfortunately, he passed away last year. He lived in the Mount Royal riding and he and Eleanor Roosevelt were the key drafters of this declaration of human rights. Although most of his fellow citizens might not even recognize this great Canadian's name, his achievement has an ongoing impact on the functioning of our governments and, as a result, on the way that each and every one of us conducts our lives.

The universal declaration revolutionized international law by enshrining the principle that the international community has an abiding and important interest in the fundamental rights of all human beings. It established the framework for the international recognition of the rights of human kind.

In the 50 years that followed the United Nations put into place covenants, principles and monitoring activities which all demonstrate a fundamental international agreement to recognize different aspects of the indivisible, inalienable and fundamental rights of individuals.

During the ensuing 50 years, and I feel I must repeat this, the United Nations adopted conventions, principles and control mechanisms which all reflect this strong desire on the part of the international community to recognize all aspects of the indivisible, inalienable and fundamental rights of the individual.

The principles, the goals and the fine phrases have been put on paper and agreed to. Now what?

To no one's surprise, when we look at how the international human rights system actually functions, we confront a paradox. Many of the ringing statements of principle in the universal declaration and various covenants are honoured more in the breach than in observance.

The United Nations human rights system is a patchwork. The monitoring and enforcement mechanisms are imperfect. Too often the politicians, the bureaucrats and diplomats natter on and on about what is wrong and how to improve things, but it is often too little and too late. It is a very slow process.

I heard the secretary of state a few moments ago allude to the fact that in Beijing we had to reaffirm the fact that women's rights are human rights, inalienable, et cetera. It was quite a critique on the state of the world, although let us not despair.

What about the people? We have all read about the Holocaust, which is now called the Shoa. We know about racism, fascism and intolerance. What have we learned? Have we learned very much?

All we have to do is turn on our television to see the horrors of Cambodia, ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia and mass killings in Rwanda. It is no wonder that when we did our television study children find that the most terrifying thing on TV is the daily news. The world is still struggling with ethnic, cultural and religious differences. How to accept and live as equals peacefully and respectfully is still the challenge to meet.

Other people at risk, with disadvantages to overcome are the disabled. They are still among the poorest and rank at the bottom or the end of the queue to receive services and remain the most marginalized and vulnerable group in this world.

Then we must complete the circle, for there is hope, a light shining to mark the way.

In fact, we are still guided in our actions by hope, because without the Universal Declaration and the other UN conventions, we would have no landmarks, so to speak.

The peoples and nations of the world and their governments would be disoriented, without purpose, without standards, without ways to measure their progress or to know what they did right or what they did wrong.

So this brings us to that ultimate recognition. I would say that domestically we have moved ahead, that the UN's involvement in human rights has become part of the evolving process, a kind of perpetual motion machine. In the half century since the adoption of the universal declaration internationally accepted values have shifted and goals as well as programs have moved forward, in large part pushed by the very existence of these United Nations declarations of human rights principles.

Domestically, Canada confronts the same paradox. The principles of fundamental human rights for Canadians are well entrenched here. We have cause to be proud of section 15 of our charter of rights and freedoms. We have cause for pride in other aspects of our charter; the recognition of human rights in the basic constitutional fabric of this country.

The Canadian Human Rights Act assures protection against discrimination in areas within federal jurisdiction. The language of human rights and of inclusiveness is spoken everywhere throughout Canada, in all our provinces and no more or no less, might I say, than in my own province of Quebec, which passed the first human rights act in Canada in 1977.

Like the United Nations, Canada has ways of monitoring compliance with human rights standards. The supreme court, of course, is one and the most important, but there is as well the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The standing committee that I have the privilege to chair is another. We may be different singers but we sing the same tune.

Progress has been made, no doubt about it. But why does this paradox, the difference between principle and practice, continue to confront us so starkly even here in our own country? I would say that the perpetual motion machine I spoke about earlier comes into the picture in Canada too, just like at the international level.

The acknowledgement of human rights in Canadian laws and institutions has fostered an environment where awareness of rights has promoted awareness of practices. The awareness of practice has promoted awareness of flaws, and awareness of flaws has promoted demands for change. And while changes have been made, more needs need to be address. The goal remains the same but the distance between the players and the goal posts has widened and so we have to become even more vigilant.

In the Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Disabled Persons we have become very aware that we need to keep the gap from widening even more. As we develop and apply new technologies we must keep in mind that all of us, knowingly or unwittingly, attach social values and responsibilities to technological developments.

Take the debate over new technologies right now and their implications for privacy, which is a human right. We have been looking at new physical and biological surveillance techniques and personal identification practices, including new ways of testing an individual's genetic make-up. We have become aware of the tension between progress and rights and why it is so crucial to protect privacy in the face of new technology.

Supreme Court Justice LaForest said in a 1990 decision: "The limits of our personal privacy define in large part the measure and the limits of our freedom. Not to be compelled to share our confidences with others is the very hallmark of a free society. That is where we hope human rights is headed".

We know there is no ultimate answer in finding the balance between an individual's right to privacy and society's broader requirements. Defining human rights is a constant process of evolution, just as our Canadian federation is constantly evolving, particularly when balancing rights against social policy.

In order to build equality into the fabric of our society we have to take a positive approach that goes beyond using the courts to deal with abuses. Recognition of fundamental human rights is essential for individuals to develop a sense of belonging, a sense of equality and a sense of the rights and obligations of citizenship.

A true economic and social democracy, like the one I believe Canada must keep striving for, has to build equality and justice into every aspect of every human relationship. We must never lose sight of that goal. We must intensify and strengthen our message. That is the reason we must emphasize the importance of marking the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1998; plan now, act later.

As the drafters of the charter did almost 50 years ago, we must use the concepts of human rights to point the way to ongoing respect for each other as human beings. We can move toward our vision of equality but we can do this only together for the full enjoyment of our lives.

We can do it together to more fully experience justice, peace and freedom.

United Nations Universal Declaration Of Human Rights December 10th, 1996

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if you could enlighten us about whether there is a question period following the interventions, please.

Violence Against Women December 4th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, we all recall that 14 young and talented women's lives were snuffed out, gunned down at École Polytechnique in Montreal seven years ago. This Friday we observe the anniversary of the tragedy of their deaths on December 6, 1989 as Canada's national day of remembrance and action on violence against women.

This reminds us of how important it is to work together and respect each other as equals, with the goal of building an inclusive society where there is zero tolerance for violence against women.

The world has finally lifted the curtain surrounding violence against women, and in this regard Canada has played a leading role nationally and internationally.

Let us not forget the pain and the incredible loss of this senseless massacre. I call on all Canadians to mobilize together for action against violence.

Quebec Language Policy November 20th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, the new restrictive language policy unveiled by the Quebec government last week is shocking and counterproductive to say the very least.

The Parti Quebecois in its attempt to appease party hard liners before its policy convention this weekend has come out with a frontal attack on the rights of the English minority in Quebec, making access to services in their own language more difficult.

This exclusion act can only exacerbate tensions, erode social cohesion and heighten differences between Quebecers. This narrow minded policy comes at a time when the Quebec government is trying to polish its image by promoting the province as a tolerant and open society in order to attract foreign investment.

The rights and freedoms of all Quebecers should not be held hostage by the governing party in its appeasement of some of its rank and file ideologues. It is obvious that the spirit of Centaur needs to be revived. Please try to live it at the convention. Show openness to diversity, for these acts do not reflect the Quebec society that we love.

Raf Ferry Command November 6th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, next Monday Canadians will pause, as we do each year, to remember those who defended us in the battle against fascism; those who fought for us in the interests of democracy and freedom.

We will remember our family, our friends, our neighbours, those in zones of conflict in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. They met the enemy on the high seas, in the air and on the ground, worked in the factories, volunteered in their communities and gave the best of themselves. Many made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live in peace.

Let us not forget the contribution of even one Canadian in the monumental struggle against hatred, racism, tyranny. All deserve our thanks and recognition.

Veterans of the RAF Ferry Command, no less than veterans of the army, navy, air force or merchant marine, deserve recognition for the risks they took, sacrifices they made and the lives they lost in our defence.

All those Canadians who gave so much in our time of need were and are a model for all of us, both at home and around the world.

Divorce Act November 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, unless I did not hear and others at this end of the House did not hear, I do not believe that you called the vote on Motion No. 6. Could you please clarify.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act November 5th, 1996

Mr. Speaker, first let me say how welcoming it is to see you in the chair. I know you will grace it with honour, with distinction and with a sense of levity as you bring calm, peace and quiet discussion to informed debate. Welcome. I am pleased to see you there.

We are having a very important discussion on the Canada-Israel free trade agreement. I would first ask my own constituency and the people following this debate with so much interest to consider that what I have to say first started with what my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade, said so eloquently on this issue before the intervention of the member for the Bloc Quebecois.

He outlined in a succinct way the importance and the value of the nature of this agreement in the interests of Canadians. This bill, first of all, was initiated because Canadians wanted a fair and even playing field with the Americans and the Europeans.

We know what it is to have to work to an even and fair playing field with our American colleagues, having been very much a part of the NAFTA agreement. It is good particularly for Canadian businesses in my riding where large companies have to manufacture parts, not be able to complete them and put the value added parts on because we did not have this kind of agreement. We shipped the products to the United States to put a U.S. stamp on

them even though they had been made here except for the last little value added parts. In that way we could sell them at a reasonable and competitive price.

Second, it is good for Israel because Canada has products that we can sell there. They have products that we can buy here that are of value to us.

Third, it is good for the Palestinians. The Palestinians have, at this point, no exit route for the development of industry that is indigenous to their part of the West Bank and Gaza. There is no World Trade Organization agreement for any of the alliance countries around them. Israel is the only democracy in that area that has accreditation to the World Trade Organization, easily referred to very often by the letters WTO.

The other thing that is so vital for us to keep in mind is that we are Canadians in a Canadian government and we are masters of our own internal relationships. We are not interested in having external input into how we run our business.

Peace, order and good government is fundamental to all countries as they see it and as they determine it. We are not the Israelis, we are not the Palestinians. They, themselves, have to come to some kind of agreement with the help of countries outside their borders which are often there as peacekeepers, as the Canadians have been.

I believe that Canadians have become peace makers. This agreement is a ground breaking agreement with respect to the Middle East, which is a flash point. It could have been a flash point at any point in the history of the world and has so been.

The fact that we put into this agreement an acknowledgement of the place and the role of the Palestinian people, the importance of people working together in business, in trade who will, by just merely getting together talking to each other and knowing each other will in this inclusive environment move that dialogue toward better relationships between people.

We all recognize this in Canada. We are a civil country with civil discourse. There is a country that needs our example. By our very presence in the field of trade and commerce, I believe we bring a very important message. Our peace makers and our peacekeepers, in whom we have great pride, have been in that country for over 26 years. We have the longest history there. We have a degree of credibility, both with the Palestinians and the Israelis. That is an added dimension.

I want to remind the Bloc and the Reform Party that we were the first countries to do business with Cuba, to do business in the Asian-Pacific area, to do business in countries that do not have great relationships among their people, who are not as respectful of human rights as we would like them to be.

I believe fundamentally that when you work with people, when you bring your business culture and your business climate and your business people in and exchange through dialogue and personal relationships, you affect those relationships between the people who are indigenous to that country. You are, by your very presence as a role model, affecting change.

I believe that this agreement, the Canada-Israel free trade agreement, is very necessary for that part of the world, is most important for Canadians and is going to be enabling of the Palestinians.

I was in Israel to monitor the Palestinian elections. I met with many Palestinians. I talked with them in east Jerusalem. I met with them in Ram Allah. They all knew about this trade agreement. Is it not interesting that they knew last year and the other side of the House seems to be just now finding out about it?

My colleague from Dartmouth has outlined all the steps since November 1994 that have been ongoing in the development of this free trade agreement. According to another colleague in the House who is an expert on international trade, it is an extraordinarily well drafted document. I gather the Bloc and the Reform Party acknowledge that, accept that and would like to move forward given the time.

Timing is not up to us. What is up to us is to be present to enable a propitious moment to effect change. Although this free trade agreement is not a reward for Israel it certainly enables Canadians, Israelis and Palestinians.

As an aside, I found it quite rewarding to watch the minister of trade, Natan Sharansky, signing and sending the letter. We realize the world has changed dramatically when we see an immigrant from Russia, an open country, who has been in Israel for barely four or five years and is now a minister. That is a democracy of which we can be proud.

It is the same with many people in this House who have come from very diverse backgrounds. They have come as immigrants to our country and are now here leading our country as ministers. We see the same situation reflected in the values and the democratic principles within Israel. They find themselves in a very different political milieu, political ambience than we are privileged to have right here in this country notwithstanding some of the discomforts and the concerns we presently live with.

It was very exciting to meet with the leadership of the women's movement in Ram Allah. The women talked about the importance of the development of trade links and business, both with Israel and the potential Canadian agreement.

My colleague from Dartmouth pointed out that we have not heard one word from the Palestinians against this accord. We have only heard from members on the opposition benches who seem to be becoming the ministers for international trade for the Palestinian people, which is a most inappropriate role for them to undertake.

I have an addition to my colleague from Dartmouth's chronology. I continue along his outline from November 23, 1994 to July 31, 1996. My addition looks particularly at the role that has been played by the Palestinian people.

In 1995 there were meetings and telephone conversations between Kevin Gore, Canada's chief negotiator and Abu Allah, then Palestinian minister of the economy and still current deputy minister Samir Huelella.

On January 12, 1996 and July 31, 1996 ongoing negotiations were continued. Commercial counsellor Zeisler spoke with deputy minister Huelella and other Palestinian authority trade officials regarding the extension of benefits and requests meetings with Minister Masri to formally present a copy of the free trade agreement.

On September 3, 1996 commercial counsellor Zeisler met again with the new Palestinian minister of economy and trade.

On October 20, 1996 commercial counsellor Zeisler, Ambassador Berger and the First Secretary Barber met with the Palestinians. Again there were technical seminars on November 6 and November 9 on the benefits to the Palestinians under this agreement.

On October 27 there was another meeting. October 28, a letter was sent to Minister Masri elaborating Canada's legislative process. It was faxed on October 29.

The whole outline is one of openness. The ability to be involved in this undertaking is quite exciting and interesting. As a last note, we have given an example to the world. The Americans have decided to follow the route Canada has undertaken with respect to the inclusion of our Palestinian cousins who are found in the area.

I would urge the House to look upon this free trade agreement as positive in the interests of Canada, in the interests of Israel, in the interests of Palestinians and in the interests of forwarding the peace movement.

Supply October 24th, 1996

Madam Speaker, first of all, I want the member to understand that I am proud to be a Quebecer. I am proud of both the French and English languages and cultures. I want them both to be respected, as well as the other languages and cultures of the people who chose to make our province their home. They are equal partners, each in their own community.

Secondly, I totally agree with you that Montreal is the heart of Quebec, its economic engine. However, if we want to pursue this idea, we must have an open mind and recognize that the federal government has several objectives, in partnership with the Quebec government and under the Quebec-Canada agreement-or Canada-Quebec if you prefer-on the development of the various sectors. First of all, this agreement is designed to promote the coordination of efforts between both governments to improve Quebec's competitiveness and economic health, especially in Montreal, the province's economic engine. The agreement succeeds in reaching this goal by giving financial support to major industrial projects capable of diversifying Montreal's and Quebec's industrial structure.

I think you will agree with me that it is a very good idea, and we are doing it in partnership.

What bothered me about the previous speeches is that members were saying that Mr. Chrétien has been here for 30 years. Well, it is a good thing because, as a political leader, he has a vision of Quebec that is representative of all Canada, of which I am part as a Montrealer. I think it is not fair to say that it is our party and our leader who are destroying Montreal and who are hindering its economic development. It is not true. It is false.

That is what I said before and I am saying it again, and that is all I have to say about this issue.