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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was city.

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

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I think that digital locks would have some very serious consequences. They are the key point of the bill. I think there are many other elements like that in Bill C-11 that could cause problems.

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I agree and I thank my colleague for his question and his heartfelt introduction.

Indeed, a number of things do not add up in this bill. The notion of education is very poorly defined. That is why, like my colleagues, I think we must absolutely amend this bill and make some major changes, if not completely take an axe to it. The artistic community has spoken out against this bill.

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for the question.

I would like to ask him the following: if it is neutral, as he claims, why do more than 80 arts and culture organizations in Quebec and the rest of the country say that the bill is toxic? They say it is “toxic to Canada's digital economy.” And how can he ignore all the economic benefits of the arts and culture?

In addition, as the member for Québec, I can attest to the extent to which all levels of government usually agree. I deplore the fact that the federal government does not currently recognize that investing in culture is a good way to contribute to the economy, which is important right now.

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. I was speaking about the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay, who said:

The U.S. Piracy List is supposed to be reserved for countries on the margin of international law. Instead it is being used as a bully tool to undermine Canada's international trade reputation.

If the Conservatives are prepared to use their majority to impose this legislation without amendments, Canadians will be deeply disappointed by a government that would ram through a bill that lacks balance and takes away some rights from Canadian authors and creators.

The NDP believes that it is high time to update the Copyright Act but that Bill C-11 has too many obvious problems. We will therefore work on amending the bill so that it better reflects the interests of Canadians. For that reason we are proposing, among other things, to delete from the copyright modernization bill the clauses that criminalize the removal of digital locks for personal, non-commercial purposes. Furthermore, we support shorter sentences for those found guilty of violating the Copyright Act because this would prevent the excessive recourse to litigation against individuals, a situation that is problematic in the United States.

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, because this is an important bill whose purpose is to make changes that have been needed for a long time. Certainly this is a somewhat complex issue, since the last version of this act dates from 1997, and the technology has changed a lot since then.

Copyright is a sensitive thing, especially in the electronic age when file sharing and a plethora of content are available on the Internet. Consumers should not be able to download from illicit sources on line without having to pay. Reform of the Copyright Act was needed in order to provide greater protection for our creators. It is also essential to update the Canadian legislation, which is several years behind what is provided in international agreements.

While the government’s intention to focus the battle against piracy on the big offenders is laudable, unfortunately, as my colleague said, Bill C-11 does not take into account the needs of the creators. With this bill, the Conservatives have intentionally avoided addressing the question of a possible expansion of the private copying exception, a measure that has been proposed by the NDP and a number of experts.

In Bill C-11 the Conservative government has brought us back exactly the same content as Bill C-32, which had already been severely criticized by the arts community. Bill C-11, unfortunately, does not achieve the balance that is needed between the rights of creators and the rights of the public. In spite of the fact that a number of artists, experts and spokespeople have addressed the parliamentary committee on this in recent months, the government is once again proposing a bill on which there is no unanimity.

And so the Conservatives have ignored the opinion of the experts heard in committee and the conclusions from their own copyright consultations in 2009. The result is that they have brought in a bill that could do more harm than good, and that is why we need to understand it clearly. We can therefore say that although a number of worthwhile proposals have been made and although there is a will on the part of politicians to work together to achieve a fair bill, the government has continued to turn a deaf ear to those proposals.

The National Assembly of Quebec has unanimously denounced this legislation, which does not ensure that Quebec creators receive full recognition of their rights and an income that reflects the value of their creations. In addition, on November 30 of last year, 100 Quebec artists, including Luc Plamondon, Robert Charlebois, Michel Rivard and Richard Séguin, travelled to Ottawa to tell the Minister of Heritage and Official Languages, the Minister of Industry and the entire Conservative caucus that they did not want the copyright bill in the form the government is stubbornly presenting.

Bill C-11 favours the big players in the creative world. Unfortunately, the small artists and artisans are not as lucky. What Bill C-11 does is to attack artisans’ copyright directly, and in so doing it contributes to destabilizing the low incomes of Canadian artists. An example of the revenue that minor creators will soon have to forego is the tens of millions of dollars now paid to authors annually by the education system. From now on, the education system will be able to use our authors’ works without having to pay compensation. Certainly the NDP supports the use of these works for educational purposes, but it believes that this should not be done at the expense of the creators.

Nor does Bill C-11 provide for any compensation for downloading to an iPod. A solution suggested by many, to impose a $2 to $5 levy on iPods and other portable digital players has been dismissed by the government, once again at the expense of creators. Nor does this bill contain any provision in relation to Internet service providers obligating them to pay fees for music downloaded through their networks. The government is simply calling on providers to be partners in the fight against piracy by forcing them to take receipt of copyright violation notices issued by creators and the organizations that manage their rights.

Another controversial point in this bill has to do with digital locks. Under this provision, it will be illegal, for example, for a consumer to break the digital lock installed on a DVD that the consumer has purchased, just to copy it onto a personal computer. That could become particularly problematic when locks are installed on educational material.

Artists do not benefit because they are deprived of millions of dollars in levies, and students do not benefit because they will have trouble accessing the educational materials they need. Certain copyright owners, the big companies, will benefit.

The Copyright Modernization Act gives with one hand and takes away with the other. Even though the bill contains certain concessions for consumers, these are undermined by the government's refusal to compromise when it comes to the most controversial copyright issue in this country, the digital lock.

When it comes to distance education, for example, the provisions in the new bill mean that people living in a remote community will have to burn their class notes 30 days after downloading them. That is not an improvement on the current situation and it is not an appropriate use of the copyright regulations.

In summary, it appears that all efforts to reform the Copyright Act in Canada in recent years have had very little impact on the creation of a balanced system between the rights of creators and those of the public. One only need look at the demands made by the big content owners in the U.S. to see whom this bill will really benefit. It is a valid question: have the Conservatives forsaken Canadians at the expense of copyright interests in the United States?

Recent documents published by WikiLeaks clearly show that the Conservatives have acted against Canada's interests. The documents paint a dismal picture of the Conservatives who have conspired with the Americans in order to force the adoption of copyright legislation similar to that in the United States.

New documents reveal that the government encouraged the United States to put Canada on their piracy watch list in order to pressure Parliament to pass new legislation that would weaken the rights of Canadian consumers.

In the words of the NDP critic for copyright and digital issues, Charlie Angus, “The U.S. Piracy List is supposed to be reserved for—”

Veterans October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, our soldiers and veterans are not a priority to this government. How else can we explain the $226 million cut to the Veterans Affairs budget, mainly in financial support for former soldiers?

We also learned recently that the new veterans charter would penalize our reservists, who face the same risks in the field as our regular soldiers.

Why did the minister decide that our reservists will receive half as much from now on?

Quebec City HIV-AIDS Organization October 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, 26 years ago today, on October 7, the first clinic in Canada dedicated exclusively to AIDS testing opened in Vancouver. One year later in Quebec City, in a climate of uncertainty, MIELS-Québec, an information and support movement in the fight against HIV-AIDS, was founded. Some 25 years later, thanks to its experienced team of employees, its many volunteers and support from valued partners, this movement remains as active as ever in the Quebec City region.

MIELS-Québec has become an undisputed leader thanks to the prevention services it offers, as well as the information it provides on testing, psychological and social support, housing and recovery.

I wish to sincerely commend the exceptional work of its executive director, Thérèse Richer, and her entire team. Congratulations to MIELS-Québec on 25 years of dedication to our community. I also wish to highlight the support provided by other organizations in Quebec City working on the same cause. While much progress has been made, the fight must go on.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for pressing that point because it is the most important one.

In fact, we want the Conservative government to say that this is a lockout and not a strike. If it could at least acknowledge that—as the media,the public and the members on this side of the House have—perhaps we would not need to spend the entire weekend here in the House debating this issue. That would allow for some progress. The government clearly has a mental block. It is refusing to listen to us, and we cannot even imagine how it is treating the people that it is ignoring on this issue.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

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

Like all other members on this side of the House, I would like the minister to make a call and have the locks taken off the doors at Canada Post. Then service could resume and people could stop going on about how terrible this is. That is what needs to happen. We need to continue to defend the working conditions of these people, who work tirelessly and who are being wrongly blamed for this. It is terrible that the work of these people is not being recognized. They have the right to negotiate their collective agreement. But they are being denied that right and then people are saying that it is their fault the mail is not being delivered. That is what is so terrible.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Québec, I would first like to address the 500 Canada Post workers who demonstrated in Quebec City last Wednesday after they were locked out. I understand their frustration and I would like to say to them that I am here in the House of Commons to stand up for them and to pull out all the stops to oppose this special bill, which would deprive them of their legitimate right to negotiate their working conditions.

I was unable to celebrate Quebec's national holiday with them this year. Although I am not present in body, I am with them in spirit. The NDP has promised change. We have promised the people that we will do politics differently. It is for that reason that we are here. We take our duty to represent them seriously and, in the face of injustice, we must stand up for their rights tirelessly, day and night.

I am proud to stand up for the rights of workers and the interests of Quebeckers and all Canadians. What is happening right now is very important. We must take action to defend the middle class and fight the disparity between rich and poor. We must defend the progressive values of this country. We must defend the right to negotiate. This is a lockout, not a strike. Postal workers opted for rotating strikes.They chose a moderate means of securing better working conditions. That is to their credit because it had a minimal effect on services. Postal workers cared about their fellow Canadians.

Then, management decided to declare a lockout and put a complete stop to services. That is why Canadians and small businesses are no longer receiving their mail. The postal workers did not want a general strike but they never imagined that the employer would declare a lockout.

To add insult to injury, the Conservative government staged an unprecedented intervention by introducing this special bill to force employees back to work under harsher conditions than those that were on the table. I would like to give an example. It is as though someone was earning $12 an hour and asked his employer for $15. Then, the government stepped in and now the person is making $10 an hour. Is this acceptable? Is it normal to be concerned about such a situation? I think so. I think it is frightening.

People do not just want minimum wage jobs. They do not want to worry themselves sick because they cannot make ends meet week after week, month after month. They want jobs with fitting wages. Families want to be able to count on an income that allows them to pay for a few hours of leisure time and, thus, actively participate in the local economy. They want to have quality time to spend with their loved ones. Canada Post employees deserve to have a decent salary and acceptable working conditions. They are not the only ones, and that is only natural.

I also checked the blogs and other types of social media to see what the public thinks about this. I would like to share some of what I read:

With this lockout, the government is showing that it can do absolutely anything it wants with us. For now, only Canada Post is affected but, one day, they may decide that you were very kind to contribute to your retirement fund but that the money would be more useful to them than to you, and you will be left with nothing. That is what happened in the United States and is likely to happen in Europe and Quebec. If we do nothing now, we are opening the door to other excesses.

And it is a member of the public who said that. Another person wrote:

The postal workers want to deliver the mail. They are demonstrating against this bill that takes away their right to negotiate their next collective agreement.

Yet another person added the following:

The Conservatives are again demonstrating their Machiavellian talent, this time by exploiting people's ignorance. Let us put aside the conditions and demands of the postal union. Mail carriers decide to hold rotating strikes in order to protest and put a bit of pressure on the employer. What is good about these strikes is that they get the employer's attention without the public noticing much of a disruption in service. That is to the credit of the postal workers. What does Canada Post do? It locks them out almost immediately. It is the employer, and only the employer, that has caused the total shutdown of the postal service in Canada. However, the average person still does not understand what a lockout is, or maybe has only a vague idea of what it is. He only knows that his cheque is not being delivered. The public blames the messenger and that is a mistake.

I completely agree with what people are writing in blogs, and I urge them to continue their posts. I invite everyone to continue feeding us with such information. We will continue to fight for them.

As I was saying, we knew that, with a majority, the Conservatives would only obey one law: their own. By taking this action, the Conservatives are showing that all they have to do is pass laws. They do not even care about the Supreme Court, which, in 2007, reaffirmed that the right to negotiate is a fundamental right.

It is shameful. What we must not lose sight of is that this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what this government plans on doing. It will continue to give bonuses to Canada Post's CEO and to others who are already earning a more than acceptable salary. However, in the case of the far larger number of workers at the next level down, it will make massive cuts, widening the already great divide between rich and poor. In fact, the swift and heavy-handed means it is currently using with this special law may be used in all cases. What is happening to postal workers may happen to a good number of public servants and other workers.

Those who might be tempted to applaud the government because it is supposedly fiscally responsible might want to think again. The government is not fiscally responsible, not in the least. This government and this measure are not about fiscal responsibility. Canada Post is a very productive crown corporation. Unlike many businesses, it has dramatically increased its productivity over the past two years. In addition to being able to offer decent jobs, this strong productivity has also generated profits and contributed substantial amounts to the public coffers in dividends and taxes.

People who are thinking about privatizing or deregulating Canada Post are on the wrong track. Multinationals calling for that only want to increase their profits and their market share. What do the people want? A report commissioned by the federal government in 2009 was very clear that people do not want Canada Post to be privatized or deregulated. In a democracy, the people should prevail and that is that.

I would like to remind the members that when this government violates workers' rights, when it flouts the country's laws and institutions, and when it does not honour its commitments to the people, the NDP will be there to keep it in line. We are a united opposition of people who know what it means to work to make ends meet.

That is why I am asking the government to listen to the people. I am asking it to respect workers, who also want to benefit from this country's wealth. I suggest it see reason and not impose this special legislation.

I hope to return to my wonderful riding of Québec with good news. I continue to have hope, because hope springs eternal. I know one thing: more than 60% of Canadians did not vote for the Conservative Party. I know that the people support me and that they are likely disgusted by what the government is doing right now. I want them to know that we will not give up the fight.