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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

Official Languages March 31st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on February 27, I was concerned about French-language television programming outside Quebec. A number of Canadians and francophone organizations across Canada are outraged about the current situation.

I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages to support the NDP's motion to have the Standing Committee on Official Languages study Canada's French-language television programming. I would like to give an overview of the situation before I ask my questions of the minister.

It is sad to see that the responsibility for protecting the French language falls to a government that won the booby prize from Impératif français for its lack of leadership on francophone issues, that has been cutting funding to the French network of the CBC for years, and that appoints unilingual anglophones to positions that are critical to promoting French within the government.

Every day we get more bad news about official languages. Last week we learned about new cuts at the CBC, this time to the French network.

Louis Lalande, vice-president of French services, announced the elimination of about 80 jobs, plus 20 more through positions left vacant and retirements. Ten jobs will be eliminated in Acadia, 15 in Ontario, 16 in the western provinces, and 10 at ICI Musique. Téléjournal will also be cut by 30 minutes in Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saguenay and Trois-Rivières.

The experts we want to see appear before the Standing Committee on Official Languages will say that these decisions will have a major impact on the vitality of Canada's Francophonie.

I would like to remind hon. members that the government is required to respect the Official Languages Act and the Broadcasting Act. The minister should coordinate the implementation of official languages commitments within all federal institutions, including CBC/Radio-Canada. However, thousands of francophones outside Quebec are seeing their services dwindle, particularly in the area of broadcasting.

CBC/Radio-Canada has the mandate to strive to be of equivalent quality in English and in French. Minority francophone communities in a number of regions can no longer watch the Montreal Canadiens hockey games in French because this service is available only to subscribers and no longer offered in French.

Our problem with the government is that it is not respecting the rights of French Canadians to have equal services in both official languages.

Is the minister comfortable with the cuts to French television programming in Canada? She must be, otherwise she would do something about it. Nothing is being done in this regard. The minister is hiding behind her Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018, while French continues to disappear in this country.

We have witnessed a steady drop in French over the past 30 years. It is frightening. Year after year, there is a steady decline in the demographic weight of francophones in Canada.

I find it appalling that the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages is happy with the progress that is being made in the official languages file. She needs to roll up her sleeves and get started on the tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to maintain the equal status of both official languages in Canada.

I am therefore asking the minister again whether she will support our request that a committee study Canada's television programming and respect the rights of francophone minorities, and whether she will come and testify in committee if she is asked to do so.

CBC/Radio-Canada March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member regarding what Canadians want to hear and watch, I would remind him that the people of northern Ontario are soon going to lose the French broadcasting of the Montreal Canadiens' hockey games, even though they want to keep it.

At the national level, one of the main concerns of the groups we talked about earlier is the funding for CBC/Radio-Canada, especially for official language minority communities.

We in the NDP promise to cancel the $115 million in cuts imposed on CBC/Radio-Canada. This is important, and I think the hon. member can understand that. If he has $100 and someone takes away 20%, he will be left with $80. He can go on talking about the $80 he has left and how he will use it, but the fact remains that he will have less.

CBC/Radio-Canada March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, during question period on November 28, 2014, I asked the Prime Minister to clarify his position on CBC/Radio-Canada. We did not have to wait long before he made it very clear what he really thinks of our public broadcaster.

In an interview with a private Quebec City radio station, the Prime Minister described Radio-Canada as a hotbed of left wingers, or at the very least employees who hate Conservative values.

I think that all Canadians were shocked by these inaccurate and disparaging remarks. However, this is not the first time that the Conservatives have attacked this important Canadian institution. Let us remember that in February 2011 the minister who is now responsible for National Defence accused the corporation of lying all the time.

I recently indicated in the House that the insinuations and threats made by Carl Vallée, the Prime Minister's former press secretary, to CBC/Radio-Canada's news director are unacceptable.

If that is how the Conservatives plan to woo Quebeckers and Canadians, then I can tell them that it will not work. Quebeckers and Canadians care about CBC/Radio-Canada too much for that.

As a result of the Prime Minister's decision to cut funding to anyone who has a different opinion, the crown corporation has suffered, and it will take decades to repair the damage. According to union president Alex Levasseur, “Not only will 800 people lose their jobs, but the Radio-Canada mandate is also suffering”. Eight hundred people is about 10% of all staff at CBC/Radio-Canada.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents CBC/Radio-Canada employees, recently demanded an apology for the absurd and unfounded comments made by the Prime Minister. Thousands of people work at CBC/Radio-Canada. These people have political opinions as varied and as private as those of most Canadians. Perhaps the Conservatives should take that to mean that all Canadians hate them.

After four years of observation as a member of Parliament, I can say that the Prime Minister does not like CBC/Radio-Canada. The best word I can think of to describe it is “contempt”. Contempt for the diversity of public opinion, contempt for quality information, contempt for freedom of expression, contempt for freedom of the press, contempt for journalistic freedom and contempt for freedom of the media in general.

As the critic for the Francophonie, I am very concerned about the consequences the latest round of cuts at Radio-Canada will have on Canada's francophone community.

Since 1936, the CBC has been a beacon for culture and has contributed to the development of our identities and our linguistic realities. However, never since 1936 has any prime minister treated the CBC with such contempt.

The Conservatives have given themselves a lot of rights, but they seem to have forgotten that they also have obligations, including obligations under the Broadcasting Act and the Official Languages Act.

I am worried. The people of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles and people from across Canada are also very worried and are coming together in support of this cause. Organizations like Ensemble sauvons Radio-Canada and Tous amis de Radio-Canada are bringing together thousands of individuals, artists and public figures. Consider the thousands of petitions that we have been presenting to the House for over a year.

The NDP is the only party standing up against the Conservatives' senseless cuts. It is the watchdog for Canadians' rights and has a blueprint for society to get Canada headed in the right direction.

Canadians are overwhelmingly opposed to the Conservatives' partisan plan to tear down this flagship institution that makes us unique. We need a strong public broadcaster.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, there are unfortunately far too many sexual deviants in our society, and the problem seems to have increased with access to the Internet. We need youth protection groups, psychologists, outreach workers and psychosocial workers.

We must intervene before, during and after. We have the names of people who are registered or on lists. It is always possible to create support groups to prevent individuals from reoffending or to simply encourage them not to reoffend. They will talk to them or intervene. However, this requires a lot of workers and funding, and this must obviously be done in co-operation with the provinces and with police forces. It is very important that we take action now for the sake of the children who have not yet been victimized by sexual predators.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite right and I must agree with his comments.

The government should really provide better funding as well as more powers and options to organizations that work with child victims and also to prevent others from being victimized. This also means working with repeat offenders and sex offenders. The government should also give police more opportunities to intervene and work in collaboration with municipalities, provincial police services and the RCMP in order to make our system more effective. With the advent of the Internet, it is all too easy to participate in the sex trade.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to this debate on tougher penalties for sex offenders. In my professional career, I never stopped advocating for women's rights or for the fight against childhood poverty.

There is nothing sadder than to see children in vulnerable situations, whether because of an unstable family life, family violence, or just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We all have a duty in the House to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep our families, children and communities safe and sound. Over the past few years, a significant number of children, girls and boys, have been victims of sex crimes in far too many of Canada's communities. This has an adverse effect on many aspects of their lives, on their self-confidence, their ability to trust others, their mental health and so many other things. So many families are wounded, broken and devastated because of these reprehensible crimes.

Furthermore, this bill is part of a complex societal debate because it involves several levels of government—municipal, provincial and territorial; police services such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and provincial and municipal police forces; many advocacy groups; and various professions such as youth protection workers, psychologists, street workers and psychosocial workers.

I am bringing my perspective as a mother, and also as the former president of the Regroupement des groupes de femmes de la région de la Capitale-Nationale to this debate. This bill does not do enough for the women and children traumatized by the horrors perpetrated by sex offenders.

The Conservatives consider themselves to be tough on crime. However, they are mistaken if they believe that the legislative measures proposed in this bill are sufficient. This is not the first nor the last time that I will admonish this government for its wishful thinking. I rise today with the expectation that this government will realize the importance of prevention, understand that simply handing out harsher sentences does not yield the desired results and grasp that we need meaningful action and not just fine words to look good for the cameras. Our children are paying the price for the lack of leadership to search for concrete solutions.

I want to talk about a statistic that shocked me and that could shock many people listening to me today. Sexual offences against children have increased 6% over the past two years. This statistic was shared by none other than the Minister of Justice, when he appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. A 6% increase is cause for concern.

Over the last decade, Canada has seen a significant increase in the number of people charged in cases of sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation and luring a child using a computer.

I will use my time today to talk about three important points. First, I will give a critique of the proposal for harsher prison sentences, which do not do enough to fix the problem. Second, I will talk about the cuts made to public protection services. Third, I will talk about how what the public really needs is meaningful, comprehensive action.

First, I would like to emphasize the fact that the NDP has always had a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual offences against children. I think it is important to repeat that. We have zero tolerance for sexual offences against children.

When preparing this speech on Bill C-26, I wondered why the Conservatives, who claim to be the champions in the fight against crime, have only one solution for every crime: tougher sentences. Tougher sentences alone do not work. A more comprehensive approach is needed.

Once again, the fact that sexual offences against children have increased by 6% in the past two years shows that the Conservatives are taking a minimalist approach. That is disgraceful. I would not want to be in the shoes of the Minister of Justice, who has to justify that statistic to Canadians, particularly victims and their loved ones.

One of the amendments proposed by the NDP sought to obligate the minister to submit an annual report to Parliament on the effectiveness of the law. That amendment was rejected. Once again, how can the government justify that to victims and their loved ones?

As I have said repeatedly, what I have seen since entering federal politics is a government that is too often reacting instead of being proactive.

They do not seem to think it is important to invest in preventing crime. I do, however, and so do the people of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles and many Canadians.

The government absolutely must invest in crime prevention and other practical solutions to keep our communities safe. I have to say that we are disappointed that this bill does not do more to introduce effective solutions that will do a better job of protecting our children and making our communities safer.

That brings me to my second point, which is about budget cuts and funding shortfalls. If we want to reduce the number of sexual crimes against children in this country, we have to back that up with resources. Disappointment on that front too: there is no new funding in this bill.

Resources on the ground cannot always keep up with the Conservative government's harsher law and order policies. The NDP believes that our communities need resources to combat child sexual abuse.

In regard to funding for police services, police forces are having to do more with less. The RCMP is already having difficulty keeping the criminal records registry up to date, for lack of resources. This bill will only further increase their workload, without adding any trained personnel to protect our children.

That is why I was so surprised to learn recently that the RCMP did not spend the $10 million earmarked for the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre and other projects to fight child pornography, even though more and more people are coming forward all the time to report child exploitation. How can this government justify that?

To illustrate my third point, I want to talk about how the Conservatives stubbornly refuse to listen to the questions being asked by people in communities across Canada and by experts. For the NDP, passing legislation is not something we take lightly. We always encourage the relevant committees to examine the bills. We meet with experts, associations and professionals with full transparency in order to understand their point of view. We often propose amendments based on the arguments of workers on the ground who are familiar with the realities facing victims.

This bill is no different; however, one thing that has not changed about the process is that the Conservatives continue to reject our amendments.

We understand the political game they are playing. However, I take exception to this government ignoring the recommendations made by the professional associations and experts who testified in committee. The experts are the ones we turn to for opinions and clarification. So why do the Conservatives ignore their recommendations?

What we want is simple. We want the government to stop turning a deaf ear and understand the scope of the problem. We want it to be open to working in collaboration with the opposition parties and the experts.

In closing, we are here to work in the interest of Canadians. This is not an easy task and we do not have all the answers.

Child sex offences have increased by 6%. We are asking the government to do more to improve those statistics and ensure that children are no longer victims of sexual offences and that communities have more resources to work on preventing and condemning reprehensible acts.

We are voting in favour of Bill C-26, but I want to add my list of concerns.

I encourage the government to get its head out of the sand and stop thinking that tougher sentences will solve the problems, because they will not.

I urge the government to give victims support organizations and the police the resources they need to properly discharge their mandate in view of the growing number of complaints, including those about online practices.

I am asking the government to listen to the experts in order to improve this bill.

What measures will truly help protect the must vulnerable, such as children? How and when will these measures be incorporated in the government's policies?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 23rd, 2015

With regard to government funding allocated in the ridings of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, Louis-Hébert, Louis-Saint-Laurent, Québec and Beauport—Limoilou, broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation, any other government entity or program in fiscal years 2004–2005 to 2014–2015 inclusively : (a) what is the total amount of this funding ; (b) how many full-time and part time jobs were created as a direct result of this funding; (c) what are the total budget cuts both in dollars and as a percentage of the total budget; (d) and how many positions were cut between May 2011 and today; and (e) how many full-time and part-time employees were hired between May 2011 and today?

Petitions March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on the government to respect the rights of small family farmers to store, trade and use seeds.

Petitions March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting two petitions today on behalf of my constituents.

The first petition calls on the government to take immediate action to increase investments in mental health services for members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP.

La Francophonie March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, last Friday was the International Day of La Francophonie, but here in Canada, people were not in the mood to celebrate.

After all, in the past year, the government appointed a unilingual anglophone foreign affairs minister and made cuts to Radio-Canada's broadcasting of French-language content and regional news. These are just two small examples of their mismanagement. It is shameful.

When will the government finally do something to address the setbacks for the French language in this country instead of contributing to them?