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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservatives.

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

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, previously, just before the excellent leader that we have currently, we had a leader who went to war against the major oil companies, big business and the banks. There was a reason for that. It is true that we see a problem in terms of social acceptability and safety.

The $1 billion cap is not sufficient. These days, $1 billion is the same as $1 million was back in the 1980s. It is proportionally the same in terms of accidents. There are far too many claims and the consequences of an accident are too great to put limits on liability. We should have a polluter pays regime and it should be paid for entirely by the users and operators.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his question.

Indeed, there was another oil spill and this time the trains were involved. It happened on Friday night. It was called a “Lake Mégantic 2.0”, because it happened 4 km outside an urban area and it could well have resulted in another human disaster.

Clearly, our railways, our tracks and our crossings, are in a terrible state. Canada is responsible for making sure the system is safe. The system is in fact far from being safe. I travelled across Canada on the train and I hoped to arrive at my destination without having an accident, because I think it is unsafe.

Regarding the pipelines, we must ensure that they are safe, in terms of oil spills and terrorist activity. That is what we are looking at now. However, a pipeline that goes from one end of the country to the other means that there are great distances to be monitored and secured. Social acceptance is related to the environment, security and the economy. We are therefore asking the government to look into this issue again.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to wish you a very happy retirement. We have all appreciated your time in this House.

I have a lot of worries and questions as I enter this debate on the bill. The pipeline safety bill is a contemporary issue that links transportation and safety.

In recent years, a number of serious incidents all over North America have repeatedly brought this issue to the forefront of many citizens' concerns, including the people of my riding, Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles. For example, many of my constituents have said they are worried about the oil terminal proposed for the port of Cacouna. Pipeline safety and security are under close watch by the Canadian people.

Moreover, this is a crosscutting debate that affects several levels of government, such as municipalities, provinces, territories and other social groups and communities, including first nations.

As I speak today, I hope the government will listen to my fears, take note of my questions so it can answer them, and show its good faith and its openness to dialogue and to the amendments we will be proposing later.

I want to tell the House about three main aspects of this bill: the importance of favouring prevention over reaction; the cap of $1 billion on the polluter pays principle applying to private companies' spills; and the future of our energy resources.

I have a lot to say about the importance of favouring prevention over reaction. After a decade in power, the Conservatives are looking tired, or maybe even lazy. They are tired of having to meet the needs of the population and the middle class and tired of facing criticism. Their masks are beginning to slip, and we can see what lies behind.

The Prime Minister's stubbornness has caused considerable damage to our environment and our economy. Why did he not seize the opportunity afforded by this legislation to be proactive? The Conservatives always seem to be in reaction mode, as if they have to wait for the very worst, for things to hit rock bottom, before they will take action. It should not be that way. Canadians expect better.

There is a total lack of leadership when it comes to pipeline regulation in Canada. However, the real question we need to ask ourselves is this: is that because of laziness or is it because it is in the Conservatives' interest to help oil companies? The statistics, data and testimony about the effects of spills are compelling.

The Conservatives are dragging their heels on this. Pipeline incidents have been happening for a long time now. Maybe they should stop by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's website a little more often. The website posts monthly statistics on pipeline incidents, and there are incidents every month.

The Conservatives also introduced disturbing new standards for reporting incidents. This is what a Radio-Canada article had to say:

Until July 2014, any spill, no matter how small, had to be reported to the TSB. On July 1, the federal body harmonized its regulations with those of the National Energy Board, the NEB. From now on, only spills of 1.5 cubic metres or more have to be reported.

That means that pipeline-related incidents need to be reported only if they are in excess of 1.5 cubic metres. Our government agencies do not record spills that are smaller than that.

Am I the only one who finds that disturbing? The Conservatives have kept us waiting quite a while when it comes to figuring out who is liable for oil spills resulting from broken pipelines.

I would also like to take this opportunity to emphasize the dire need for more inspections and more monitoring, as well as measures to prevent oil spills. We cannot allow this government's lack of leadership to endanger communities, infrastructure, wildlife and plants.

It is also important to talk about the polluter pays concept.

The NDP has been defending this principle for quite some time. Since the Conservatives are stuck working with us, our ideas seem to have inspired them. Still, it took a tragedy for them to act.

The Lac-Mégantic tragedy served as a lesson for the Conservatives. We cannot allow companies to operate on Canadian soil if they cannot respond appropriately in the event of fault or negligence. However, we must realize that it does not take long to spend $1 billion in the event of a spill. Consider the costs associated with decontamination, compensation, damage to infrastructure, and so on.

A number of experts shared their concerns regarding this $1 billion limit, indicating for instance that a spill in an urban setting could easily cost $5 billion or $10 billion. We have to make sure that polluters pay for the pollution they create, rather than pass the cost on to future generations, namely, our children and grandchildren.

Ian Miron, a lawyer with Ecojustice, has said that no liability regime can truly be considered a polluter pays regime unless and until polluters are made absolutely liable for the full costs of environmental harm.

As for the cap, it will certainly be the taxpayers who end up paying cleanup costs over $1 billion when fault or negligence cannot be proven.

We admit that Bill C-46 does make some important improvements in the liability regime for pipelines in Canada. However, why should the taxpayers have to pay the bill if there is a spill or some other accident?

I am also worried that the bill does not include absolute liability for gas companies and other operators of non-oil pipelines and small oil pipeline companies. Why not? The Conservatives want to do this later, through regulation or a cabinet decision. Why not do it now, while we are having an open, transparent, public debate?

We know that the government likes to work behind closed doors. Too many aspects of this bill are left to the discretion of the National Energy Board and the cabinet. The Conservatives seem to be leaving a lot of leeway for politically motivated decisions and secret agreements between the operators and the National Energy Board, a regulatory body that lacks credibility regarding pipelines.

That is why we are not certain this bill goes far enough to protect the safety of all Canadians.

Finally, with regard to the future of our energy resources, the NDP has a vision of long-term prosperity. The Conservatives are trying to make people believe that a New Democratic government would not be good for the economy, but that is completely wrong.

Canadians have been told for too long that they must choose between the economy and the environment. That is a false choice. We propose a different course that will favour economic growth and protect the environment.

I would like to say something about something that is very close to my heart, and that is the principle of sustainable development. When we talk about sustainable development, we are talking about social licence, environmental protection and economics. If more attention had been paid to social licence, there would not have been so many failed pipeline projects. No one is making the effort to consult people and make sure that Canadians are safe.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member for Calgary Centre, who is quite familiar with oil since her province is known for its oil, said that it was a matter of trust.

I disagree, because this is more than a matter of trust. Residents who live 4 km away were endangered when 30 to 35 train cars derailed in Gogama over the weekend, early Saturday morning.

This bill is about pipelines. However, how can we ensure safety from beginning to end when oil is transported through a pipeline? It is not just a matter of trust; it is also a matter of responsibility.

My question for the member is the following: When damages exceed $1 billion, who will foot the bill if not the taxpayers?

Respect for Communities Act February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from Ottawa Centre a question.

The Conservative member who spoke before him said that he did his studies in the field of health. He should therefore understand that supervised injection sites exist because drug addicts need this help. Hospitals exist because there are people who are sick. More people do not get sick because hospitals are built. We do not want to create supervised injection sites so that more people will get addicted to drugs. That is ridiculous. That is the wrong way of dealing with the problem.

Does the member for Ottawa Centre think that the Conservative government should address the underlying causes of the problem? We know that billions of dollars' worth of drugs are exported from Canada to the United States and from eastern Canada to Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, France. Would it not be better for the Conservatives to address the underlying causes of the problem rather than going after sick people?

Official Languages February 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Canadian Heritage was delighted with the progress made on official languages. The reality is that French television programming outside Quebec is steadily disappearing.

Even the Montreal Canadiens hockey games are no longer available to francophones across Canada. That is a source of concern for the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne.

Will the minister support our request that a committee study Canada's television programming and respect the rights of francophone minorities?

Petitions February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on the government to adopt legislation that includes international aid policies that support small farmers, especially women, and recognize their essential role in the fight against hunger and poverty. It also calls on the government to do away with the controversial seed legislation.

Petitions February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a number of petitions on behalf of the residents of my riding.

The first pertains to abusive credit card and ATM fees. The people of my riding are also calling on the government to do away with the controversial $2 fee that people have to pay to get a paper copy of their bills delivered to their homes.

Petitions February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the second petition that I am presenting calls on the federal government to pass legislation to create an ombudsman for the corporate social responsibility of Canadian extractive corporations in developing countries.

Petitions February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present two petitions.

The first is about the adoption of an international aid policy that supports small farmers, particularly women, and that recognizes their essential role in fighting hunger and poverty.