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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

Safe Streets and Communities Act September 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member says “offender”; we say “adolescent”. If we had imprisoned every thug in the past, our society might be without some great people today, and these people would have a criminal record.

As for the Youth Criminal Justice Act, this government has received suggestions for amendments to the act from the provinces. But it has refused to consider them. Why is the government not listening to the suggestions from prosecutors and people in the provinces?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster. It really seems that the people who introduced the bill do not understand it. Detention centres are currently being built. In Canada, there are three centres where refugees who are waiting are already incarcerated. The children and mothers are separated from the fathers. That is already happening. There is a social cost. How much will it all add up to? How many centres like that are going to be built?

In the past, immigrants used to come to Grosse Île, near Quebec City. Putting all immigrants and refugees into camps while waiting to be able to integrate them into society because they do not have identification papers and passports is a completely outdated way of doing things. It was a complete failure during Canada's waves of immigration. That is what happened on Grosse Île and near New York City, in the United States. Putting people into such camps is not a good way of doing things.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. UNICEF Canada, with which we are all familiar, is one of the organizations that took part in these reports, along with the Adoption Council of Canada, the National Alliance for Children and Youth, the Canadian Council for Health and Active Living at Work and a number of others.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his question. There are laws in Canada, including one that punishes smugglers with life imprisonment, in fact. So, Bill C-4 is a fake bill. We are talking about refugees and protecting children on this side of the House because this bill masks the fact that legislation already exists to punish smugglers. So it is not necessary to create another law. Steps need to be taken to imprison the smugglers.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak today to voice my outright opposition to Bill C-4, as introduced by the Conservative Party.

I echo my colleagues who, during debate yesterday, so rigorously exposed the major gaps and grey areas in this bill.

Without restating all of the points that were brought up yesterday, I want to say that it is clear that in the eyes of the House and the eyes of Canadians, Bill C-4 directly violates a number of international agreements that Canada has so proudly ratified, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. In addition, it contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Let us remember that Canada committed to the rights of child refugees and migrants in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Canada's third and fourth reports highlighted the main measures passed from January 1998 to December 2007 to encourage implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning the involvement of children in armed conflict.

With regard to this report, the Government of Canada should also remember that it is accountable to many Canadian NGOs and to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who were asked to comment on the issues to be dealt with in the report.

Canada will have to justify any act that is illegal or violates ratified international agreements.

With regard to the protection of minor refugees, separated minors and unaccompanied minors requesting asylum, we should remember that, in August 2006, the Overseas Processing Manual used by Canadian immigration officers for resettling refugees was updated to include a new policy on guardianship.

The Guardianship Protocol established procedures for processing children who are dependents of the principal applicant and minors who are blood relatives, that is, separated minors with a blood relative in Canada who is not their father or mother.

This protocol recognizes that children are particularly vulnerable and encourages de facto guardians or blood relations to obtain legal guardianship. It ensures that the appropriate authorities closely monitor the well-being of these children.

This protocol also ensures that refugee children resettled in Canada receive the care and protection necessary to their well-being.

All recommendations for minor blood relatives made by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees must reflect the child's best interests, and all the decisions made under the protocol must take into account the child's best interests.

In addition, the protocol provides a child with the opportunity to comment on the decision made in his or her regard. In April 2008, the Government of Canada updated its manual for protected persons, Processing Claims for Refugee Protection, to include guidelines taking into account the age and sex of the child.

The objective of these guidelines is to support the priority processing of the claims of vulnerable people, including children. These new guidelines respond to recommendations made by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees that Canada should give priority to vulnerable people.

We avoid placing children in detention as much as possible, whether or not they are accompanied. We always try to find another solution that is in the child's best interests.

I would also like to reiterate the response of the Government of Canada to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights:

Both the Canada Border Services Agency and Citizenship and Immigration Canada have programs and policies in place to assist and protect vulnerable migrant children within their respective mandates....

Within this context, reuniting families as quickly as possible is a priority for the Government of Canada and a key part of the mandate of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. In overseas family reunification, Citizenship and Immigration Canada works to fulfill its commitment to process most of these cases within 6 months. In the case of overseas refugee children, concurrent processing of refugee family members who are residing in different locations is facilitated. In the case of resettlement of eligible separated minors from overseas, a Guardianship Protocol adopted in 2006 provides visa and settlement officers with instructions on how to facilitate the resettlement of [these] children...

When unaccompanied, separated or otherwise possibly vulnerable children arrive at a port of entry, or if they are encountered anywhere within Canada, border service officials are trained to pay extra attention to all children and to refer a child to the appropriate provincial or territorial child protection agency, when there is a concern that the child may be at risk. Border officials are instructed and trained to be aware of factors such as age, gender, cultural background, and the child's general circumstances [whether or not they are a refugee]...A child may only be detained as a measure of last resort, and a school-aged child in detention must be provided with educational and recreational opportunities as well as counselling after having been detained for seven days....

Returning an unaccompanied child to his or her country of origin, or nationality, however, is a complex process and is based on the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Canada Border Services Agency works closely with [these] agencies...

I would also like to remind members of the commitment as part of the way forward that the Government of Canada made to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights.

The government appreciates the care and concern that the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights has shown for children in its report. It has provided guidance on the way forward, and has encouraged a continued commitment to collaborative efforts to meet Canada's obligations under the convention.

The very process of answering the committee's report required extensive discussions and collaboration throughout the federal government, ensuring that policies and programs were again considered through the lens of the best interests of the child principle and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child... The government acknowledges that meeting the needs of children is an on-going process, requiring commitment and diligence.

The government will not waver from its goal of making Canada a better place for children and their families. So, with Bill C-4, can we be assured that children will be the greatest beneficiaries? Can we be assured that the government is still working towards the goal of making Canada a better place for children and their families? Can we be assured that Canadian laws and international conventions ratified in solidarity are being respected?

By trying to pass bills that violate human rights, the government is making a laughing stock of Canada. Many countries and international organizations are watching us and will be aware of the decisions made here. We must be careful not to fuel old prejudices that involve projecting onto foreigners all the evils and all the problems that might exist in a country, all in the name of gaining popularity among certain groups of voters.

Canada will need international allies to support its economy and ensure its growth. These are the same allies who scrutinize what we say and do, and how we treat our communities. To illustrate my remarks, here are a few excerpts from some Amnesty International recommendations. It is worth noting that Bill C-4 is a reincarnation of Bill C-49, which was introduced here and rejected by this House.

There have been serious human rights concerns with respect to the government’s response to the arrival of two boatloads of Sri Lankan migrants off the coast of British Columbia—the Ocean Lady in October 2009 and the Sun Sea in August 2010. Government ministers made inflammatory remarks about those on board, before the boats had even arrived in Canada—particularly with respect to the Sun Sea. They were described as illegal migrants, queue jumpers, human traffickers and security threats; and were accused of links to terrorism. Rarely was there any acknowledgement they might be refugee claimants. Notably all 76 individuals who arrived on the Ocean Lady were found to be eligible to make refugee claims and have done so.

...Federal political parties need to commit to: not reintroducing Bill C-49 after the election [this is what Amnesty International was calling for]; ensuring that any efforts to tackle human smuggling or human trafficking conform to Canada’s obligations under international human rights and refugee law.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for York West.

Is that not the crux of the issue? We are talking about immigration, which is a topic she is familiar with as she was the minister. This morning the member for Burlington spoke about security. Is the crux of the issue not that the current government is mixing up security and immigration? Refugees are not necessarily people we worry are going to jeopardize Canada's security. The majority of them are not dangerous; they are simply poor and need asylum.

Another department deals with security.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Louis-Hébert and officially congratulate him on his election.

This morning, the member for Laurentides—Labelle raised a point that was also touched upon by the member for Toronto Centre. They made it clear that an immigrant is an immigrant, that there are a number of ways to immigrate, whether it is by sea, air or land, and that a smuggler is a smuggler. We have legislation in Canada to imprison these smugglers for life. There is no punishment greater than that, other than death. A refugee is a refugee. When we talk about refugees who arrive by boat, as has happened in the past, they do not arrive with their papers and their passports. We have to understand that they are refugees. So perhaps people should look at the definition of the word “refugee,” because a refugee is a refugee.

I have a question for my colleague. Does he not get the impression that the current government is not in a position to enforce the laws that it has proposed itself?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, my comment is for the members opposite. All day they have shown us their little phones, saying that they have received comments, letters and words from people in their ridings who are protesting the fact that mail service has been interrupted and explained all their problems.

I went to read the newspapers. TVA—and everyone knows that TVA is not very socialist—said that 62,000 letters, including benefit cheques and every other kind of cheque, were being held up and were not being delivered because of the lock out. It was not because of the rotating strike, but because of the lock out. So the government should take responsibility for it.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Madam Speaker, to respond to the hon. member, as he said, it is often the management party that emerges from negotiations or strikes in a winning position. There is a power grab here by the management side, Canada Post.

Second, like the hon. member, I have also managed businesses and conducted negotiations. It was done in another manner, not by lockout. We discussed and re-discussed the issues and we ultimately found a solution.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The government must really do something and stop this lockout. That is all the parties are waiting for, to resume negotiations, and the unions are waiting to resume mail delivery. As the member at the far end of the House said, people are waiting for their diapers, their mail and their prescription drugs to be delivered. So it is time everyone started negotiating.