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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was women.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 20% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the hon. member's speech, and I would really like her to explain the difference between keeping Canadians safe and expanding the rules that restrict our rights and take away our freedoms.

As we speak, an online group has gathered 205,000 signatures from people who oppose this bill. Some 82% of people were in favour of it, but after just two days, now only 33% support it. The more Canadians know about the bill, the less they want it.

Why is the government refusing to amend the bill or agree to any amendments?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 May 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what really scares me about this bill is the extent to which it can restrict people's rights in the name of security. We recently saw what can happen. On October 22, life in Parliament completely changed because of an individual who probably suffered from a mental health problem. We must act to ensure that the government does not restrict MPs' rights. During the October crisis in Quebec, we also saw the Liberals put in place war measures because of possibly 30 to 35 people who were making threats.

It is a disproportionate reaction. I am very scared. Canadians are scared. People in my riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles are afraid that the reactions will be excessive. Can the member reassure us about that?

Petitions May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present.

The people of my riding are calling on the government to ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers and that they protect the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use and exchange seeds freely.

Official Languages May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, barely 2% of immigrants who settle outside Quebec speak French as their first official language. That is well below the government's objectives for ensuring the survival of French outside Quebec.

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration praised the new express entry program as the solution to the problem. However, of the 22,000 people in the recruitment pool, only 200 are francophone.

The minister is supposed to ensure that 4% of immigrants are francophone. How is his approach going to achieve that?

Citizen Voting Act May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this new way of doing things will cause people a lot of problems.

Having worked at polling stations myself, I know that lots of seniors, among others, come with just their voter card. They do not bring anything else. They are asked to go get some ID because their home is usually right in the same building, and they go get a bill or something. However, their health insurance card does not have a photo. They need photo ID, and many of those people do not have any. They do not drive, so they no longer have a driver's licence.

How can the government justify excluding those thousands of people from voting in the next election?

Privilege April 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, let me bring something new to this debate. I will not raise the same issue. In my case, this is the second time my right of access to the House was violated. This did not happen today, but on Wednesday.

Some temporary barriers were set up where we enter the House when we take the bus from the Valour Building. These barriers are rusty and the piping is broken, so we no longer go up and down the way we are supposed to. On Wednesday, when we were not going to the House, but to our caucus meeting, we had the same problem and the bus was full. The RCMP refused to let us enter after the bus did the whole tour and came back to try to enter. We had to go back through the official barriers, which made everyone late, and we were pressed for time.

The time before that, it happened to the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

La Francophonie April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his answer.

Indeed, we have a roadmap, but the budgets have not been fully spent and francophone minority communities are sounding the alarm. We must listen to them.

This time I would like direct answers to the following questions. When will the minister finally realize that there are Francophonie issues playing out here in Canada right now? When will this government realize that the recent investments were not enough to compensate for the demographic imbalance of francophones in Canada? When will the government have enough political will to develop a national strategy that includes the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments as well as francophone minority communities, as required by law?

La Francophonie April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, last month, following the celebration of the International Day of La Francophonie, I informed this government of several of my concerns about setbacks for the French language in this country.

However, instead of listening to me and answering my questions as a responsible government should do, the Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie gave an answer that had nothing to do with my question.

Do not get me wrong. I am satisfied with the appointment of Michaëlle Jean to the position of Secretary General of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. I personally wrote to Ms. Jean to wish her every success in her new position, and I also received a reply. I am delighted that some women can reach senior positions where they have the power to make decisions. There are far too few of them.

However, I have a great deal of difficulty seeing the connection between my question and this appointment. Am I to understand that I should turn to Ms. Jean to talk about the alarming situation of minority francophone communities in Canada or the job cuts in the CBC's French service? That includes 10 positions lost in Acadia, 15 in Ontario, 16 in the western provinces, 10 positions at ICI Musique and a 30-minute reduction in the news in Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saguenay and Trois-Rivières. Should I also ask Ms. Jean about francophone immigration programs in Canada? I know that this government is giving up responsibility for many files by offloading them onto the provinces and territories. However, I did not think that Ms. Jean was also a scapegoat.

My constituents in Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles and I see the Canadian francophonie as something that is very big, powerful and important. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister of Labour told me that “our government has maintained unprecedented and indisputable support for official languages in Canada”. I doubt it.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, I have heard many witnesses say that French has taken a back seat in Canada. A number of minority communities are very concerned because they are at risk of losing more and more of the services provided in French by federal institutions.

The government also withdrew important funding from francophone communities that sent representatives outside Canada to Paris, Brussels or Tunis, for example, as part of the Destination Canada job fairs. They are no longer capable of directly recruiting immigrants who are prepared to settle in francophone communities. Witnesses told us that these representations in francophone countries were an excellent source of recruitment. A number of these witnesses also told us about the lack of coordination between the different levels of government, the lack of a government-wide strategic plan, and the lack of political will to reverse this trend.

The government is not meeting its obligations. It is not taking positive measures to encourage the francophonie under section 41 of the Official Languages Act. It is doing the opposite by using measures that negatively affect the vitality of French in Canada.

Need I remind hon. members that it is incumbent on federal institutions to ensure that positive measures are taken to carry out the commitment to enhance the vitality of the French linguistic minority communities in Canada, support their development, and foster the full recognition and use of French in Canadian society?

I invite the Minister for La Francophonie to review the various motions moved by the NDP at the Standing Committee on Official Languages and encourage his colleagues to support our proposed studies, including the one on the ability of Radio-Canada to fulfill its mandate.

Official Languages April 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, there should be minimum penalties to force Air Canada to comply with the legislation.

I address the House as a sort of guardian of the French language in Canada. I cannot keep silent about the cuts to the CBC, which will result in the loss of 100 additional jobs from the broadcaster's French-language services. I cannot keep silent about the fact that the budget voted by Parliament for the development of French-language skills has not been spent when the communities are in dire need of that funding. I cannot keep silent about the delays affecting many programs under the Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018.

Can the minister tell us whether she intends to stop flouting the Official Languages Act and begin consulting with and providing adequate funding for official language minority community organizations? Can she tell us whether she will take appropriate action to ensure equality of status for both official languages in Canada?

In closing, will the minister force Air Canada to comply with the Official Languages Act so that our airline uses French as it should?

Official Languages April 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on March 11, I asked a question in the House concerning Air Canada's failure to comply with the Official Languages Act. The ministers hesitated over who was going to answer the question. Finally, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages rose to tell me that she was not the person who could answer my question.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages should have been able to answer my question about official languages instead of passing the buck to others. My question was very simple and addressed directly to her. I asked her if she thought it was acceptable for Air Canada to develop unilingual English work tools, thereby ignoring the right of workers to use the official language of their choice. In her reply, she did not even mention the name of the airline. I was very disappointed with her answer. The minister just spewed her usual rhetoric and stated that she was proud of her government's record on official languages. Canadians and my constituents in Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles expect more than just empty rhetoric from their minister. They expect answers.

The government knows full well that Air Canada is a repeat offender; Air Canada has ranked among the worst offenders since 1995. Year after year, Air Canada has had its knuckles rapped by the Commissioner of Official Languages for the many complaints sent to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, for non-compliance with the recommendations of the Office, and for quite simply ignoring its action plan.

Need I remind the minister that the Official Languages Act mandates more than simply being able to say “Hello, Bonjour” to customers? The Air Canada Public Participation Act, which has been around for more than 25 years now, requires Air Canada to fulfill its obligations under the Official Languages Act. The government claims to be tough on crime, but it does nothing to encourage our largest airline to comply with the law. This is serious.

I also want to take this opportunity to point out that since I became the official opposition's critic for la Francophonie, I have met with a number of groups that work on the ground. They plead with me and they are sounding the alarm. It is more than alarming to see how much the French language is struggling in linguistic minority communities. The relative weight of francophones has been continuously dropping in Canada for more than 30 years. We already know that the government will not reach the targets it set, in spite of its roadmap and the related investments. The minister should coordinate the implementation of the language commitments at all federal institutions.

According to the Official Languages Act, the minister is required to encourage and promote a coordinated approach to the implementation by federal institutions, enhance the vitality of English and French linguistic minority communities, and foster the full recognition and use of both English and French in Canadian society.

One wonders whether the minister has enough leadership to enforce the law. Personally, I highly doubt it. As already mentioned, we are leaving the task of protecting our language, French, up to a government that does not consider the protection of both official languages a priority in the least.

Let us look at the budget tabled last week as an example. There is no mention whatsoever of Canada's francophonie or official languages, even though the equality of status and use of English and French is enshrined in the Canadian Constitution. The Conservative government even put funding for many community groups on the chopping block. As a result, the ability of francophone minorities to live in French is constantly eroding.