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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

Business of Supply October 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas for his speech.

Bill C-18, as proposed by the government, should be scrapped, simply because it jeopardizes the financial stability of western wheat farmers and of all families associated with the sector.

Can the member tell us what the loss of the Canadian Wheat Board will mean for farmers?

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I must say that, geographically, the riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles is very far from western Canada. The agricultural reality in Quebec is very different and, in Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, there is no agriculture at all. The people in my riding therefore have not come to me to talk about agriculture.

In matters of health, medicine and surgery, does one have to have had a heart attack in order be a cardiologist and perform surgery? No. And so, I will speak on the subject of the Wheat Board. If we listened to the Conservatives, we would replace all of this with free trade and free zones. It is becoming a way of doing things. It goes without saying that small farming families who can now put their products on the market will be eliminated.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that I heard a question, unless there was a mistake in the interpretation.

When one is part of an association or a group, there is always a membership. Obviously, one needs to be a member and there are rules. Yesterday, I went to a meeting of an association that has to do with Europe but, since I had not gotten my membership card seven days in advance, I could not participate.

Western wheat and barley farmers make up the majority of this board, which works and is profitable. Why dismantle something that is profitable? We are in an economic race, which the Conservatives are always talking about. This board represents jobs for families and it is profitable. Let us keep it.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

I am certain that western farmers will be shocked to hear that this government has excluded them altogether from the value chain for the products that they have produced by the sweat of their brow.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, today I will speak to Bill C-18. I wish to support the coherent views on this bill brilliantly expressed by my colleagues and stand up for the farming families in western Canada who, in these tough economic times, must fight not only global economic instability, but also the destructive actions taken by their own government.

Bill C-18, as proposed by the government, quite simply must be scrapped because the provisions of this new legislation jeopardize the financial stability of western wheat farmers and of all families associated with the sector.

By attacking the Canadian Wheat Board without just cause, the government is conducting a political and ideological crusade because of the supposed benefits of the open market. However, our national economy needs to be protected and supported more than ever. The Canadian Wheat Board is a long-standing organization that has proven itself and been a powerful force through the years and the economic downturns that have occurred since it was established in the 1920s.

It is also imperative to remind Canadians that the board was created by farmers for farmers, that it is managed solely by farmers, and that it is funded entirely by farmers. No taxpayer money is given to this organization, which is not a crown corporation.

The first question that Canadians are entitled to ask is the following: what is the government doing? Once again, this is poorly-disguised political interference for the purpose of increasing the Conservatives' control over self-managed organizations that are necessary and work well, all in the name of market liberalization.

Canadians are not fools. They know that this politically motivated gesture will ultimately weaken Canadian wheat production and benefit big international grain companies that will be happy to snatch up Canadian grain at lower prices. Without the board's negotiating power, individual farmers will lose their voice and the guarantee of the best price for their crop on the world market. In this dark hour when an unprecedented recession is hanging over our heads like the sword of Damocles, the government should be focusing on protecting our economy instead of lining the pockets of big multinational grain companies to the detriment of all western Canadian families.

Is this government so out of touch with reality that it forgets to listen to its people, who are demonstrating in the streets right now for economic action and a more equitable distribution of wealth? Before it leads the Canadian nation into the abyss, even going so far as endangering the country's food sovereignty, the government ought to hear what western farmers want and then respect their choice.

Canadians also need to know that the Canadian Wheat Board generates between $4 billion and $7 billion a year in revenue. In 2009-10, the Wheat Board recorded profits of $5.2 billion and had operating costs of just $75 million—I am talking about net profit. In total, over 21 million tonnes of wheat and barley are sold each year at the best possible price on the world market as a result of the Wheat Board's marketing ability and its negotiating power.

The Wheat Board is also a single desk that facilitates access to the world market for farmers who do not necessarily have all the resources they need to reach their buyers. The Wheat Board is also a marketing agent that does not keep any profit; rather, it returns all its revenue to the 75,000 farmers that it represents who, thanks to the Wheat Board, are able to sell their grain in 70 countries. Above all, the Wheat Board is a strong and unique voice that is well represented on the world grain markets, a voice that the Prime Minister's government stubbornly refuses to hear.

What Canadians understand about Bill C-18 is that the measures proposed by the government will be extremely harmful to our economy.

The dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board would weaken our farmers' bargaining power with their buyers, since these farmers would have to fight alone to get the best selling price and they would be competing with their neighbours.

Ultimately, lower selling prices for grain will cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars. Instead of going into the pockets of our Canadian families, these millions of dollars will go into the pockets of grain conglomerates, which will have the final say on the purchase price of our wheat and barley. Obviously, the government would rather satisfy big multinational corporations instead of the Canadian people.

In the long term, we can expect that, as a result of these measures, a number of family farms will shut down once they are no longer profitable, which will in turn increase the vulnerability of families in the west.

Why would the government want to jeopardize the existence of an organization that is not losing jobs, that earns profits for our farmers, that is managed well and that, at the end of the day, has nothing but positive effects on our economy? If this organization were to disappear, there would be all kinds of negative effects on the entire community.

The government claims that it wants to allow farmers to choose whether they market their crops with or without the board. With the potential dismantling of the board, the government is not giving western farmers any choice. There have been no studies of the impact of this decision. I remain convinced that the farmers concerned are particularly shocked to see that the government is taking big risks with their income and their retirement without bothering to do its homework.

Canadians have had enough of a government that does not listen to their needs, that is completely out of touch, and that dares to lie to them at will.

The government tells anyone who will listen and believe that it is keeping its election promises. How is this possible when it promised to broadly consult farmers before last May's election? A few days after May 2, the government announced that there would be no plebiscite on the Canadian Wheat Board.

In the speech he gave yesterday, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board, with the support of his Prime Minister, embellished the lie by arguing that these new measures will give farmers more freedom and choice. However Canadians are well aware that, in this rather scandalous matter, there is no freedom or choice for the 62% majority who said they were in favour of keeping this single desk. No freedom, no choice, not even the right to speak and be heard.

The government's lack of respect for western farmers gets worse. In its own press release, it dares to state that it consulted with stakeholders from across the value chain before making a decision. Does this mean that farmers—including the 62% who want to keep the board—are not part of the value chain for their own products, since they were not consulted?

I am sure that western farmers will be shocked to hear that this government has excluded them altogether from the value chain for products—

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, a plebiscite, an election, is not just about the Canadian Wheat Board.

Canadians need to be reminded that the Canadian Wheat Board was created in the 1920s and was formally implemented in 1935 by farmers, for farmers. This board is entirely run and funded by farmers. Taxpayers do not contribute any money to this organization, as they do to crown corporations. This board is not a crown corporation. What is the government doing?

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the member opposite who was just speaking that $5.2 billion goes through the Canadian Wheat Board, that it costs $75 million in administrative fees to run and that the rest goes back to the farmers. It has been a real success.

I want to thank the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster for his excellent speech. Does he believe that the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board will make families poorer and weaken farmers' bargaining power, since they will have to fend for themselves to get the best prices for their crops?

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act October 20th, 2011

Madam Speaker, this morning the minister spoke about people from the outside getting involved in this debate. I would like him to tell us exactly who these people from the outside are. Are they from the United States and Europe or are they from Quebec, Saskatchewan and other parts of Canada?

We are talking about democracy here. We have the right to speak, say what we are thinking and participate in the debate.

Democracy in Ukraine October 18th, 2011

Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague for his remarks. I have a comment to make. I am quite pleased with the evening I have just spent in this House, which will continue until 10 p.m. or later. This evening, I observed that it is possible to move in the same direction and work together on both sides of the House. I also noted that there were several members of Ukrainian origin in this House, which I was unaware of until this evening. It would appear that our voices are united in our call for one thing: a better democracy in Ukraine. That was my comment.

Democracy in Ukraine October 18th, 2011

Mr. Chair, the government argues that a free trade agreement with Ukraine would coincide with Canada's foreign policy objectives, which support the democratic transformation and economic reforms undertaken by Ukraine.

In what way do negotiations on free trade support democratic transformation if we observe that there is increased repression of opposition policy?