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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Québec (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 27% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tourism Industry June 18th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this government has been cutting money for tourism for nine years. Now suddenly it has decided to adopt the NDP's proposal to invest more.

In Quebec City alone, 15,000 people work in hotels, restaurants and parks and as tour guides, all serving tourists. In the past two years, Canada has dropped from 17th place to 20th place in tourism revenue. This week I moved a motion setting out concrete measures to clean up the mess in our tourism industry.

Will the Conservatives support that motion, which lays the foundation for a real national tourism strategy?

Consumer Protection June 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is time to do more. It is time for a real party in Ottawa, the NDP, as I mentioned, to lower bank fees. My Conservative colleague said that the Conservatives were proud of having adopted a voluntary code of conduct. It is as though they moved a motion for peace but did not offer any resources to implement it. A voluntary code of conduct is ridiculous. It has no teeth and there is no way to guarantee that it will be honoured. This is the case with a number of measures that the Conservatives have put forward.

I am the official opposition's consumer protection and SME critic. Do my colleagues know how much credit card transaction fees cost Canadian businesses every year? I asked the Minister of Finance that question. It costs them $6 billion. That is far too much. Our SMEs are overburdened by bank fees, as are poor Canadian consumers. Now is the time for us to cap these fees, and we must take action now.

Consumer Protection June 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have often risen in the House to speak about the infamous bank fees, a very important issue throughout Canada. Canadians all agree that we pay too much in bank fees.

Major banks are raking in huge profits, particularly as a result of an increase in bank fees. In 2013 alone, Canada's six major banks made more than $30 billion in net profit.

During that time, Canadian household debt reached an all-time high. In fact, approximately 60% of Canadians are forced to live paycheque to paycheque. They are told to save, but that is difficult to do when you have trouble making ends meet.

Going back a little further, in 1980 the ratio of household debt to personal disposable income was 66%. Today, it is 164%. That is the situation we find ourselves in. The Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, has said that household debt is a major risk factor for the Canadian economy. Credit card interest rates can be as high as 18.9% for cards issued by financial institutions and 25% to 28.8% for cards issued by department stores and gas companies. That is huge and unfair.

The NDP is proposing that consumers be given reasonable access to credit cards at prime plus 5%. That is a worthwhile measure. No one should have to pay $2, $3, $4 or $6 to have access to their own money. Every year, Canadians pay $420 million in ATM fees, which unfairly inflate banks' profits.

The NDP is not opposed to banks making a profit. However, it is the government's duty to provide a framework to ensure that those profits are not overly excessive and that they are not earned on the backs of poor Canadian taxpayers who are already paying enough. We are proposing limiting the fee for an ATM withdrawal to 50¢, which is still double what that type of transaction costs banks. That is a really worthwhile solution proposed by the NDP.

I also introduced a variety of bills. Recently, this government adopted the NDP's motion on pay-to-pay fees. However, although the government adopted that motion, it refused to give it the strength required. It refused to implement the motion by incorporating it into the most recent budget. That is unfortunate, because although Canadians no longer have to pay the infamous $2 to get a paper invoice from telecommunications companies, for example, they will still have to pay at the banks. Once again, this Conservative government is unable to set a limit on banks. Enough is enough. We are not that stupid. We are going to set limits on banks because it is important.

I also introduced a bill on the Competition Bureau because it is not fair that banks make huge profits on the backs of Canadian families and that nothing is being done about gas price collusion. The government continues to offer billions of dollars in subsidies to the oil industry.

The NDP is proposing concrete solutions, and we will do so by enforcing the provisions of the Criminal Code and the Competition Act, which the current government chooses to ignore. Canadians expect to pay a fair price at the pump. That is why I introduced a bill that provides for the appointment of the director of the competition prosecution service.

What do the Conservatives have to say about that?

Tourism Industry June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, let me set the record straight. The Canadian Tourism Commission's budget was cut by 19% in 2014.

For thousands of workers in Quebec City's tourism industry, the summer is a short but critical time for them to earn enough money. The Conservatives cut the budget for the organization that promotes Canada as a world-class tourism destination in foreign markets, and our tourism businesses are paying the price. In 2014, Canada ranked 20th of 50 countries for tourism revenue compared to 17th in 2013.

Will the Conservatives invest to save the—

Consumer Protection June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, although the Conservatives voted in favour of the NDP motion to put an end to the unfair pay-to-pay fees that the banks are charging, they are still refusing to legislate in this regard. Yesterday, they blocked our proposal to amend the budget, and this morning they once again refused to give their consent to insert the measure into the budget. That does not make any sense.

Is the government saying one thing and doing another? How can the minister vote in favour of our motion and then turn around and stop it from being implemented? How?

Consumer Protection June 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the NDP has worked hard on getting rid of the unfair pay-to-pay fees that the banks are charging. Yesterday, the Conservatives decided to support our motion in the House. That is good. That is the first step, but the next step is legislation. As always, we are offering our full co-operation to ensure we can quickly pass a bill before the end of this session.

Will the minister accept our offer in order to put an end to these unjustified bank fees?

Infrastructure May 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, a little cheque here, a little cheque there; the government keeps improvising. That is how the Conservatives are funding Quebec's infrastructure for Canada's 150th anniversary. Millions of dollars will be disbursed without any consultation, and the June 26 deadline does leave a lot of time to build the major projects people are hoping for. We have known for some time now that the 150th anniversary will be in 2017. This government has been in power for nine years.

I am trying to figure out whether we are dealing with improvisation or incompetence, or a bit of column A and a bit of column B.

Consumer Protection May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have it all wrong. In fact, just recently we noticed that there are new banking fees. Now, a person has to pay a fee in order to pay their mortgage. It was not enough to pay a fee to pay a bill at the bank, now we have to pay new banking fees. Everything the parliamentary secretary just said is wrong.

It is not just the banks that are making huge profits on the backs of Canadian families, who are not asleep at the switch. Instead of addressing the problem of collusion at the gas pumps, the government keeps subsidizing the oil industry to the tune of billions of dollars.

The NDP is proposing concrete solutions yet again and we will do so by enforcing the provisions of the Criminal Code and the Competition Act, which the current government chooses to ignore.

Canadians expect to pay a fair price at the pumps and that is why, this week, I introduced a bill that provides for the appointment of the Director of the Competition Prosecution Service. The purpose of the bill is to provide the Competition Bureau all the resources it needs in order to arrest offenders as quickly as possible, particularly for collusion in the case of the price of gas.

Will this government support my bill?

Consumer Protection May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this is a topic I have spoken about many times in the House, but it is an important one. The major Canadian banks are raking in huge profits, particularly as a result of an increase in bank fees.

There are more and more new bank fees, and taxpayers are becoming overburdened. In 2013 alone, Canada's six major banks collected more than $30 billion total in net profit.

While Canadian banks are raking in record profits every year, Canadians are racking up more and more debt. Debt has reached record highs: approximately 60% of Canadians are forced to live paycheque to paycheque, and there is no improvement in sight. Fewer Canadians are able to save money. That is worrisome.

In 1980, the ratio of household debt to personal disposable income was 66%, and now it is 164%. That is an incredible and very worrisome increase. The Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, has stated that household debt in this country is a major risk factor for the Canadian economy. How can we keep the economy going when households are so far in debt?

Credit card interest rates can be as high as 18.9% for cards issued by financial institutions and 24% to 28.8% for cards issued by department stores and gas companies. That is huge.

The NDP is proposing that consumers be given reasonable access to credit cards with an interest rate that does not exceed prime plus 5%. That is reasonable. Only the NDP is proposing such measures. The Conservatives and the Liberals have never made any such proposals.

What is more, no one should have to pay $2, $3, $4 or even up to $6 to withdraw their own money from an ATM. That is another issue the NDP is tackling. Every year, Canadians pay $420 million in ATM fees. That is completely unacceptable.

When I asked the Minister of Finance about this, he said that he had no intention of cutting into the banks' completely unacceptable profit margins. It is a bloated amount that produces profits for those on one side and debt for those on the other.

We want to cap ATM fees at 50 cents per transaction. That is still nearly double what that type of transaction costs the banks, so it is significant. Once again, this is a reasonable proposal, and we hope that the government will listen to reason. However, unfortunately, we have not seen any such measures, and that is a real shame.

Addressing the issue of bank fees would have a real impact on people's day-to-day lives and their weekly and monthly bills. If we want to help Canadians make ends meet, the first thing we need to do is cap ATM transaction fees at no more than 50 cents per transaction, as per the NDP proposal, and limit credit card interest rates to prime plus 5%, which is reasonable.

I would like to hear what the Conservatives have to say about these simple and obvious measures.

Competition Prosecution Service Act May 26th, 2015

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-681, An Act to amend the Competition Act (Competition Prosecution Service).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my new bill on creating a competition prosecution service, which will allow the Competition Bureau to act more quickly when an offence requires criminal prosecution.

The bill gives the new director the authority to initiate and conduct, on behalf of the Attorney General of Canada, prosecutions under any act for the enforcement of which the Commissioner of Competition is responsible. Former competition commissioner Melanie Aitken recommended implementing such a measure in order to expedite legal action against offenders.

Unfortunately, bid rigging and price fixing remain common crimes in Canada, and Canadians expect the offenders to be punished quickly. My bill will help accelerate the legal process, thereby increasing protection for consumers. I certainly hope to have the government's support on this matter.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)