House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was liberals.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Salaberry—Suroît (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Natural Resources February 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, every question feels like Groundhog Day.

The RCM of Vaudreuil-Soulanges asked the National Energy Board, the NEB, to provide a list of compliance issues and information on monitoring carried out in relation to Enbridge's line 9B. The NEB declined to answer.

I also tried to get this information by submitting a written question. Here is what I got in response:

...producing and validating a comprehensive response to this question is not possible in the time allotted and could lead to the disclosure of incomplete and misleading information.

Do the NEB and the Liberals have something to hide?

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I know that my colleague is a member of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. I would therefore like to know what he thinks about the fact that this bill on free trade between Canada and Israel encourages the voluntary adoption of corporate social responsibility standards. It seems to me that something like that should not be voluntary and that the Government of Canada should have a plan to ensure that businesses that are violating human rights do not benefit from this type of agreement.

Does he not agree?

Indigenous Languages Act February 7th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his compassionate speech, which shows the importance he places on the recognition of indigenous languages.

What bothers me, however, is that, although 84% of Inuit people in the 51 communities that make up Inuit Nunangat say that they can speak Inuktitut, the bill makes no mention of the 11 proposals made by that community.

If this is so important for reconciliation and culture, particularly since Inuktitut is officially recognized in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and northern Labrador, why is there no mention of it in the bill?

Why is the government ignoring these 11 proposals, which were presented to the federal government a long time ago?

That makes it look like the government is once again imposing colonialism on Inuit people.

Youth February 7th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, Canada still does not have a youth policy; in fact, it seems the file has fallen through the cracks. Consultations were launched one year ago and an 80-page report was tabled. Nothing has happened since.

There is no longer anyone in charge of the youth file in the Prime Minister's Office. The budget for Privy Council's Youth Secretariat was cut by 33% between 2016 and 2019. This looks like a first class funeral.

Will the Prime Minister and Minister of Youth keep his promise and implement a youth policy, or have the efforts of his Youth Council been in vain?

Business of Supply February 5th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, what the member for Richmond—Arthabaska just said is absolutely shameful.

He rejected an NDP amendment proposed by my colleague from Sherbrooke. The amendment simply called for ensuring that the jobs would be saved or protected if Quebec moved to a single tax return.

The Conservatives are boasting that the purpose of the motion is to save jobs. However, they were specifically asked, and the member for Richmond—Arthabaska said that this could not be added to the opposition motion being debated today. The message is clear. The Conservatives have absolutely no plan to save the 5,000 good jobs affected by the motion, including about 1,000 jobs in the Saguenay region. A Conservative member from this region could lose his seat in the next election because of this proposal.

The member for Sherbrooke pointed out that the unions have looked at potential solutions to bring the jobs back to Quebec. As members know, about $230 million in wages could potentially be lost if Quebec took on this responsibility. This has a big impact on jobs and wage losses. The Conservatives should look into this and suggest solutions, if their solutions have been analyzed, which I doubt. They just clearly said that they have no intention of keeping these jobs. Otherwise, they would have voted in favour of our amendment.

Does my colleague from Sherbrooke agree with me on that?

Petitions February 5th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by residents of Akwesasne.

The petitioners ask the government to provide funding for the clinical treatment of drug and alcohol abuse disorders for first nations, because drug and alcohol abuse disorders have significant impacts on first nations. People suffering from these disorders have a right to proper treatment and culturally appropriate treatment methods, and holistic approaches are essential to treat substance abuse disorders.

They call on the government to make funding available immediately for treatment centres throughout Canada, such as in the White Pine Healing Lodge in Akwesasne.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act February 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-203 seeks to phase out cetacean captivity in Canada. Canadians everywhere, whether from Quebec, the Prairies or Vancouver, are increasingly opposed to keeping dolphins, killer whales and belugas in captivity.

The NDP would like to see this bill go forward because it has the support of scientists and ordinary Canadians alike. Canada can take an important step toward protecting vulnerable marine mammals and putting an end to the inhumane treatment of these highly intelligent creatures.

An Angus Reid survey conducted in May 2018 found that twice as many Canadians believe that keeping these mammals in captivity in Canadian aquariums should be prohibited compared to those who think it should be allowed.

Bill S-203 sets out a three-pronged approach to phasing out captivity. First, under the Fisheries Act, it prohibits the capture of live animals, except for the purpose of rescue. At present, such captures are legal if they are authorized. The last time cetaceans were captured in Canada was in 1992, when some belugas were captured near Churchill.

Second, it prohibits imports and exports, unless authorized for the purpose of conducting scientific research or to ensure the animals' welfare, for example, by transferring it to an open water sanctuary. It prohibits this under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.

Third, it also bans breeding under the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code, subject to summary conviction and a $200,000 fine unless provincially licensed for scientific research.

Bill S-203 was studied by the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans for months. During this time, the committee heard from the world's foremost marine mammal experts that keeping animals in captivity cannot be justified given the scientific knowledge available on the biological needs of cetaceans.

These marine mammals are intelligent, social and sensitive to noise. They need to move freely and to dive deeply to thrive.

I was surprised to learn how far a whale travels to feed and socialize. It is about 100 miles a day. When we consider the size of pens, it is understandable that these animals must feel constrained, to say the least.

The scientific literature on the nature and behaviour of cetaceans tells us that it is cruel to keep them in captivity. They are intelligent marine mammals, very social and sensitive to sound. They need plenty of space to swim and dive deep.

Captive orcas live in the equivalent of one-ten-thousandth of 1% of their natural habitat. That is infinitesimal. They do not have enough space to swim in a straight line or deep underwater. It is even worse when they are forced to entertain tourists all day long. The animals get bored, and that makes them frustrated and aggressive.

Captive whales and dolphins are imprisoned and isolated. They suffer from health problems, they die younger, and their infant mortality rates are higher. They suffer from sensory deprivation. Transfers from one aquarium to another and mother-calf separations are traumatic. In other words, the evidence shows that the social and biological needs of cetaceans cannot be met in captivity.

Now that we know so much about cetacean ecology and biology, we cannot condone an economic model that is harmful to these animals' health.

The benefit of Bill S-203 is that it gives the parks and aquariums time to adapt to this new reality. The bill does not threaten the animals that are already in parks like Marineland or the Vancouver Aquarium. On the contrary, these animals can live several decades, and I hope that they will one day be able to retire to a sanctuary.

In addition, the bill does not eliminate the rescue program. It allows for rescue and rehabilitation efforts of cetaceans that have washed ashore, for example.

However, there must be absolutely no breeding of these animals in captivity, under the current conditions. There is no proof that this provides any kind of scientific benefit. As I already mentioned, captivity has some very harmful effects on these marine animals.

Jane Goodall, who was invited to testify before the Senate committee last fall, said that the current permission of Vancouver Aquarium's breeding programs on-site and at SeaWorld with belugas on loan, is no longer defensible by science. She also said that this is demonstrated by the high mortality rates evident in these breeding programs and by the ongoing use of these animals in interactive shows as entertainment. Lastly, she said that the phasing out of such programs is the natural progression of humankind's evolving view of cetaceans as equals.

This should not be a partisan issue, but rather a moral issue informed by science. Since it was introduced in December 2015, the bill has been stalled repeatedly by the Conservatives, so much so that my colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam and other members spoke out publicly, calling on the Senate to stop dithering, put it to a vote and send the bill to the House of Commons.

We in the NDP believe that the government should support ethical and useful research on cetaceans, that is, research done in a natural environment. There, scientists can get a realistic view of their natural behaviours without causing a lifetime of pain and suffering. Cetaceans in captivity endure unjustified suffering.

Bill S-203 is a reasonable, balanced piece of legislation. It allows exemptions for animals that are already in captivity and provides for a lengthy transition period for the zoo and aquarium community. No one is asking those facilities to shut down overnight.

This is the right thing to do, and it is time to act.

Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act February 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I agree that this bill has some positive elements, and we do support it. As we have said, the NDP will naturally be supporting this bill, because it is a step in the right direction.

My colleague mentioned funding. It is true that $1.25 million will be invested over five years, but that is just a drop in the ocean. The dismantling of the Kathryn Spirit alone cost $24 million. If we do the math, there is a major shortfall somewhere.

If there are thousands of wrecks, many of them in British Columbia, how can a preposterously low budget of $1.25 million be enough to dismantle these vessels safely and get them out of the water for the benefit of coastal communities?

There are some sanctions, it is true, and there are steps that can be taken to have vessels dismantled. However, only 21 vessels have been dismantled since 2017. It is better than nothing, at least. What the NDP is saying is that the bill does not go far enough. The Liberals lack the vision and commitment to ensure that this bill is truly effective once it comes into force.

Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act February 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, once again, the member's self-congratulatory remarks leave a bad taste in my mouth, especially since I just listed all the amendments we proposed in committee that were summarily rejected. Twelve of our 13 amendments were rejected. We consulted 50 coastal communities before drafting our amendments. Chambers of commerce supported our amendments and helped draft Bill C-352. That should tell the Liberals something. That bill was rejected outright before it was even debated.

The Liberals say they are open to amendments. I can list plenty of bills that were not amended in committee at all because the Liberals want nothing to do with opposition parties' amendments. The Green Party member knows what I am talking about. She proposes dozens and dozens of amendments, all of which are instantly rejected without ever coming up for debate. It is a hard no every time.

I am saying that we do not have any receivers of wreck. In the seven years that I rose to talk about the Kathryn Spirit and call for intervention from the federal government, Conservative or Liberal, it was always the same old story. I kept getting referred from one department to another, one contact person to another without ever being told who was in charge. We called for a receiver of wreck. The Liberals said no.

We also asked for a registry. The Groupe St-Pierre is responsible for bringing the Kathryn Spirit to Lake Saint-Louis to be dismantled. The ship was sold to a Mexican company. Since the ship had no registration on board, it was extremely difficult to identify that company, who it was, what they were about. When we called the company, it took months for them to return our calls. If we had a registration system, that would make the administrative process much easier.

Eventually, the company declared bankruptcy. It is extremely complicated. To ensure that the public did not bear the full financial burden, we asked that the shipowners contribute and pay to have their ship recycled. The Liberals did not like that idea either. They rejected that amendment. The Kathryn Spirit cost the people of Canada $24 million because the Conservatives and the Liberals dragged their heels on this file and did not want to intervene.

Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act February 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, Sheila Malcolmson, proposed a number of amendments in committee. Unfortunately, the Liberals rejected nearly all of them at report stage. My colleague worked on this bill and based her amendments on a number of consultations with dozens of coastal communities and chambers of commerce across the country. They proposed a number of very good solutions to the abandoned vessels crisis. My colleague proposed the amendments to improve the bill because she was not given the opportunity to debate her own private member's bill.

The Minister of Transport saw no value in adding these amendments to his own bill. He turned them down flat, even though they had received nationwide support. He did not care. They had even garnered support in communities represented by Liberal MPs. How exactly does this bill serve democracy? This is appalling. This contributes to the pervasive cynicism infecting the public, which expects MPs to work together in the interests of all Canadians, but that is definitely not happening with this bill.

What is more, the bill is hobbled financially. In 2017-18, the government's vessel removal initiative only managed to deal with 21 of the thousands of abandoned vessels in Canada. It just goes to show what a spectacular failure this initiative has been. It was a step in the right direction, but there are many shortcomings, and the government has shown no willingness to improve its bill.

I want to list the amendments proposed by my colleague, Sheila Malcolmson. One was to implement a turn-in program for vessels, inspired by the cash-for-clunkers program that is working well for cars in several provinces. It was rejected by the Liberals. Without such a program, we cannot hope to address the backlog of thousands of abandoned vessels across the country. As a result, many coastal communities will be unable to get rid of the shipwrecks that have been lying abandoned in their waters for years.

Another rejected amendment proposed to establish a fee to cover the disposal cost of vessels. This amendment was based on the model used by Washington state, where vessel owners pay fees to fund the removal of derelict vessels, relieving taxpayers of a massive financial burden. I can give some figures later.

Another amendment that was rejected sought to formalize the Coast Guard's role as the agency in charge, the one-stop shop, for coastal communities so they do not have to go through several channels. In Beauharnois alone, how many times have people been redirected? It is a veritable bureaucratic quagmire. First we were told the Coast Guard was responsible for the Kathryn Spirit. Then it was Transport Canada, because the vessel was moored. Then we were told it was Environment Canada, because a working committee was being struck.

We were in limbo for seven years. Forgive the expression, but people really had no idea which way to turn, because federal department officials could not make up their minds. The same is true in the House of Commons. One day it was the transport minister who would answer our questions, the next it was the minister responsible for the Coast Guard. It would change from one week to the next. If a sole receiver of wrecks would be designated, it would be much easier for everyone, including the government, to manage this, but once again a common-sense solution was rejected.

Another amendment that was rejected sought to ensure greater transparency and accountability and correct the Canadian Register of Vessels and the pleasure craft licensing system. In February 2018, Andrew Kendrick of Vard Marine appeared before the Standing Committee on Transport. He said the licensing database needs to be improved and updated because it is out of date. He said that would be very helpful in tracking vessel ownership in many cases.

A Transport Canada backgrounder from 2018 indicated that improving vessel owner identification systems related to pleasure craft licensing was not part of the proposed bill.

Why not add it if it could help identify the vessels?

Another amendment was rejected. It would have compelled the minister to take responsibility for vessels. The response was that this responsibility would be discretionary. It would be up to the minister to decide whether or not to take measures with respect to a vessel. What good is the law if the minister has discretionary authority?

Another amendment that was rejected called on the government to use the Washington State model, which would decrease the wait time for communities to take action with respect to abandoned vessels from two years to 90 days. I remind members that it took seven years to get rid of the Kathryn Spirit. In fact, it took five years for the federal government to agree to take charge of the vessel. The dubious Mexican company, which bought the vessel, went bankrupt. Thus, the federal government had no choice but to take responsibility for this vessel, which was lying in a drinking water reservoir and, with each spring thaw, could have capsized in Lake Saint-Louis. That took far too long, and still, the 90-day period was rejected. There is going to be red tape and it could take far too long for the federal government to do its part and take charge of an abandoned vessel.

The government also rejected the idea of increasing transparency, reviewing the problems in the legislation every five years and following up. I have spoken about this. I think that seems appropriate. Every time we pass a bill we monitor it to see whether it has been effective and whether there is anything to improve, but no, this bill is apparently perfect right off the bat and has no need for improvement.

The government also rejected an amendment to add conditions of sale or disposal in the legislation to prevent Crown-owned vessels and other vessels seized and sold by the government from becoming abandoned.

There were more. It makes absolutely no sense. As we learn about the amendments to this bill that were rejected, we can see that these measures did not come from a single person. A number of municipalities and business owners worked together on these amendments. This is hurting tourism and the fishing industry. It affects those who live on the waterfront and, in some cases, people who need drinking water.

I would like to close by providing statistics from other jurisdictions that implemented the effective measures that we suggested but that the Liberals rejected. The municipality of Bowen Island, one of the 450 islands in the Islands Trust, has done 400 hours of work and spent over $75,000 since 2014 to remove over four tonnes of debris from vessels, wrecks and mooring buoys. From 2013 to 2017, Washington state removed over 750 vessels under its derelict vessel removal program. We proposed that the government model its approach on those methods, but the Liberals rejected our proposal.

Nearly 100 vessels have been removed under this program since it was launched in 2014, and the cost of removing them is included in the vessel registration fee. That was another measure that we proposed, but the Liberals rejected it as well. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps it was too logical.

I could go on and give countless examples of solutions that have been implemented in places like France, Finland, Florida, California and Oregon. We did our research and our amendments were based on the work of experts, but the Liberals rejected them all out of hand without any analysis or explanation.

We will continue to support this bill because it is a first step and one step in the right direction is better than nothing. However, it would have been nice if the Liberals had added the amendments proposed by my colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith, Sheila Malcolmson, who is no longer a member of the House. Another NDP MP, Jean Crowder, proposed these same amendments before Ms. Malcolmson, and she had support from across the country. I do not think the Liberals should be so quick to pat themselves on the back. After all, their budget for this is a drop in the bucket when it comes to dealing with thousands of wrecks. The budget is $1.25 million, but the Kathryn Spirit alone cost taxpayers over $24 million. I think they need to rethink this.