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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was health.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Abitibi—Témiscamingue (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to tell my hon. colleague that, although the use of Internet services has increased, for paying bills, for instance, there is nevertheless a limit to everything. There are things that cannot be done online. Furthermore, in my riding, many people in the country do not even have high-speed Internet service. How can those people use that method to pay their bills?

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 23rd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I rise today because I consider this motion to be one of the most important this legislature has had to consider to date.

It is important because we are being asked to rush through the consideration of a bill that is every bit as important to the future of all Canadian workers as it is to that of the employees of Canada Post.

This bill, if adopted by the House, will be a major step backwards following decades of work by our Canadian unions. It will fly in the face of the legitimate right of workers to negotiate their working conditions, a hard- won fight waged by our ancestors who helped shape Canada’s labour history.

Here is what has occurred: Canada Post employees went on a rotating strike at 11.59 p.m. on June 2, 2011, giving the assurance that it would have no impact on the delivery of government cheques, thereby minimizing any potential adverse impact on the public, even though there was no legal obligation to do so.

Moreover, the Minister of Labour stated on the morning of June 14 that back to work legislation was not necessary since it was a rotating strike and mail delivery was continuing. On the morning of June 15, 2011, the minister announced that she had, in fact, received very few complaints regarding the rotating strikes at Canada Post.

On the evening of June 14, 2011, claiming it had suffered losses of $100 million, the employer, one of this government’s crown corporations, decided to impose a lockout, completely paralyzing the postal service, despite the fact that the rotating strikes continued to ensure the delivery of mail.

The government then decided that the disruption to postal services had gone on too long, and chose to introduce legislation to force Canada Post employees back to work only one day after the imposition of a lockout that it had itself created, on the pretext that it was in the best interests of the Canadian economy.

Worse still, the government has included working conditions in the bill that are worse than those proposed to workers under the employer’s most recent offer, as if they had not already been sufficiently insulted. The arbitrator will have to choose one of these proposals. There are no shades of grey; it is all black or white.

This bill may end up setting an incredible precedent in the history of Canadian workers. The implication is that the government could henceforth take it upon itself to intervene in a situation of its own making by forcing workers to return to work under worse conditions than those initially proposed.

This bill is clearly important, as it will draw a line in the sand in terms of workers’ rights in our country.

We have a motion before us today to limit debate on this bill, with no acknowledgement of its importance. This bill will violate the rights of workers, and yet the government has the gall to ask us to approve it as quickly as possible.

Given the importance of this bill, I feel it is crucial that we take the time to think things over and ask the questions that need to be asked. But it will be impossible to do that with a clear head if there is no adjournment until the end of debate on this bill.

Giving orders about working conditions can have disastrous consequences. In 2005, I had working conditions forced on me when I worked in the health sector in Quebec, and I suffered the consequences.

First, I felt as though it were an attack. People with no real concept of our day-to-day reality had decided for us, even though it is the workers who live that reality. My trust in the government that made the decision was shattered. And that feeling lasts and lasts.

Being left out of the talks that will govern your reality is the worst affront for a worker who is dedicated to the job. It is as though the worker has become nothing but a number to a machine that is too big to realize that people are affected by these decisions—mothers, fathers, young, motivated workers and others with more experience—all proud of the professions they have chosen.

Then there was the return to work. The workers were bitter and unmotivated after the ruling, their hope lost in light of a true evaluation of their worth. They lost their sense of belonging. When you are treated like a pawn, you are prone to act like one.

Many nurses deserted the public health system because they felt ignored after the ruling. The vast majority of them chose to go to private nursing placement agencies where they have the right to do what was refused them—negotiate their working conditions.

Private nursing agencies have had disastrous consequences for our health care system in Quebec. They have quite simply caused costs to skyrocket, when it comes to the salaries paid, to pay for these agency nurses. The agencies have been a contributing factor in major conflicts between employees in the public system, who then often have to work overtime, and private agency employees, who go home without suffering those consequences.

Other conflicts have erupted when hospitals had no choice but to assign additional day shifts to private agencies, since they refused to work the evening and night shifts. The hospitals then turned to their own employees and demanded that they work the night and evening shifts.

What point is there in staying in the public system if it means being saddled with lower wages and less favourable working conditions compared to private agency employees?

When the 2011 collective agreement was negotiated, the Quebec government did not make the mistake of legislating working conditions. There was real bargaining, which brought the two parties to a satisfactory agreement. Bit by bit, the feeling of sharing in the pride of a profession has returned, but the wounds take a long time to heal.

The damage done to our health care system by the intrusion of private agencies will take much longer than five years to heal. Those wounds would probably not have been so deep if the government had not legislated working conditions in 2006.

The reason I have brought all this up is that I am concerned about the potential privatization of Canada Post. What seems to be hidden in this bill is a desire to privatize Canada Post.

This motion wants to make me give the bill hastier consideration, even though it may bring about profound changes in the future of a corporation as important as Canada Post, a corporation, a system, that has left its mark on Canadian history.

Considering the hidden agenda to privatize postal services, it is crucial to point out that Canada Post is a very profitable concern at present: it had revenue totalling $281 million last year. The cost of sending a standard letter is currently $0.59 in Canada, while in all countries that have privatized their postal services it is always higher. In Germany, it is $0.77, and it is $0.88 in Austria and $0.64 in the Netherlands. Obviously our public system is benefiting. And the other thing is that if we move toward a private system, the competition will push a lot of businesses toward the major centres and there will be no one left to serve small, remote communities.

Who will come to serve the country roads and isolated communities in my riding? No one. What business would agree to come and serve the towns of St-Lambert-de-Desmeloizes, Belleterre, Saint-Nazaire-de-Berry and Bellecombe? None. Why? Because it would not be lucrative.

There are seniors in my riding who live out in the country and no longer have a driver's licence. They have made the decision to remain in their homes, many of which they built themselves. I wonder how they will get their mail.

Therefore, if I am asked to hurry up and pass this bill as soon as possible, despite all the consequences it could have, I will stand up and firmly oppose it. I would also like to point out the disrespect this government is showing for our Quebec nation. It is telling us that if we want to celebrate our national holiday, we must do so at the expense of the Canada Post workers.

I have missed Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations in the past, when I worked as a nurse in the hospital. It did not really bother me that much, because I told myself that my patients needed me. Today I know that the Canada Post workers need members who will stand up for them, as the NDP members will. I will miss my national holiday for them. It does not bother me, because I know they need me.

Business of Supply June 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I would like him to explain in more detail how reducing the tax rate for small businesses makes it possible for them not only to create jobs but also to improve working conditions for their employees.

National Defence June 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Canada has been waiting for 28 CH-148 Cyclone helicopters since 2004. These delays have cost Canada $6.2 billion. The Minister of National Defence described the agreement for the Sikorsky helicopters as one of the worst examples of military procurement, but he did not say that Sikorsky still owes penalties for the delays.

While Canadian families are tightening their belts, how can the government allow large military companies to take advantage of us by failing to collect the money we are owed?

Libya June 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the proposed amendments to the motion are important because our Canadian Forces personnel deserve clear answers to their questions. Being in a country at war and being fired upon might naturally lead one to question why we are there. The amendments proposed by the Leader of the Opposition clearly state that the objective is to protect civilians. So there we have one answer to one of our soldiers' questions. They know they are there to protect civilians; that is very clear.

They are also wondering why we are there and exactly what we are doing there. Once again, the amendments proposed by the Leader of the Opposition are very clear: we are there to increase humanitarian aid.

I will read it in English. It states:

—the House supports an increase in Canada’s humanitarian assistance to those affected by the crisis and efforts to strengthen Canada’s support for the diplomatic efforts outlined in UNSCR 1973 to reach a ceasefire leading to a Libyan-led political transition, and supports the government’s commitment to not deploy Canadian ground troops.

With that, Canadian soldiers know exactly how things are going to work. Thus, the amendments give two very clear answers to our soldiers, who need to know before being deployed to Libya exactly why they are there and what will happen.

Libya June 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. Conservative colleague for the question.

I do not think my opinion really matters. What is important is that the people of Libya decide for themselves what should happen to Colonel Gadhafi. Libyans have the power and the intelligence to decide and to take action to ensure that he no longer leads the country.

It is really up to the people of Libya to take control of their future. It is not up to the Canadian Forces or Canada to ask that. It is up to the people of Libya to decide what they want, and I believe they are intelligent enough to make the decisions needed in order to win back their freedom and regain a comfortable way of life in their own country.

Libya June 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House today to support the UN mission in Libya and Canada's participation in it. I join with those who believe that this mission is justified and that it should be extended because of Moammar Gadhafi's actions towards the Libyan people. The sad reality of the situation in Libya is that the real victims of Colonel Gadhafi's lust for power are the civilians. Make no mistake about it, Libya's civilians are not just collateral damage from a conflict between two factions. They are being directly targeted by Colonel Gadhafi and his armed forces.

And this is not coming from marginal sources with questionable information. It is coming from organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court. As a result of an investigation, the International Criminal Court prosecutor concluded that Gadhafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed civilians, that he authorized the use of aircraft to attack protesters, that his troops attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in public areas, that he posted snipers outside mosques to kill people leaving after prayer and that he used heavy artillery to fire on funeral processions.

This is not the only source of evidence. A mission by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to Tripoli and rebel-held areas found evidence that Gadhafi's troops had attacked civilians, workers and medical units. For its part, Human Right Watch has documented serious violations of the laws of war by Libyan forces, including indiscriminate attacks in residential areas in Misrata and in the villages of the Nafusa mountains. In February, Amnesty International also found overwhelming evidence of the use of lethal force against protestors who posed no threat and were directly targeted.

This evidence clearly shows that Colonel Gadhafi's actions do not respect the laws of war and that some of these actions could be condemned as war crimes. These violent attacks against the population justify the intervention of the international community because history has shown that action must be taken in such situations and that prompt action is vital.

When I was a member of the Canadian Forces, a number of colleagues spoke to me about their experiences in countries ravaged by civil war. Whether it was Rwanda or Yugoslavia, they talked about horrible situations in which no child should be involved.

The quick adoption of resolution 1973 and the rapid deployment of international forces to put in place a no-fly zone must be applauded. However, history shows us that it is also important to act with a clearly defined mandate. For that reason it is vital to clearly define the mandate of the troops deployed, to establish a specific time frame, and to target interventions based on clearly-defined objectives, those set out by the UN resolution. We must put a stop to attacks against civilians. Libyan military and paramilitary forces must return to their bases, and humanitarian aid must be accessible to all those in need.

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has investigated and has drawn conclusion of the following allegations of war crimes.

The evidence shows that Moammar Gadhafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians, including the use of aircraft to attack protesters. His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in public space, repressed demonstrations with live ammunition, used heavy artillery against participants in funeral processions and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after the prayers. Gadhafi forces have lists with the names of alleged dissidents. They are being arrested, put into prisons in Tripoli, tortured and made to disappear.

The UN Human Rights Council's mission to Tripoli and rebel-held areas in late April found evidence of war crimes by Gadhafi's forces, including attacks on civilians, aid workers and medical units. Aircraft, tanks, artillery grad rockets and snipers were used. It also found some evidence of crimes by opposition armed forces, including the arbitrary detention and torture of suspected Gadhafi supporters. The commission did not find evidence that the opposition armed forces were part of any widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population.

Human Rights Watch has documented serious violations of the laws of war by Libyan government forces, including repeat indiscriminate attacks into residential neighbourhoods in Misrata and towns in the western Nafusa Mountains.

Amnesty International has also found clear evidence of the use of lethal force against protestors in February and, more worrying still, that in many cases protesters who posed no threat were deliberately killed.

The International Criminal Court is also investigating allegations that Gadhafi ordered his troops to commit the systematic rape of women in rebel-held areas, based on information that Gadhafi himself authorized the rapes and provided drugs to enhance the ability of his force to rape women. Due to the social stigma associated with reporting rape and the displacement of civilians, it is difficult to know how widespread the use of rape as a weapon of war is, but the ICC has received information that there are several hundred victims in some areas.

As far as humanitarian aid is concerned, the situation in Libya is alarming. It is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 people have been killed in the past four months of combat; close to half a million civilians have left their homes and fled the country since the crisis started; another 330,000 people in the country have had to leave their homes to seek shelter elsewhere in Libya. These people have to live with very little and face shortages of food and water. They have almost no access to medicines and are unable to travel because of fuel shortages.

The situation is even worse at the border with Tunisia, where Tunisian authorities are struggling to receive thousands of Libyan refugees who want to flee their country. The United Nations estimates that as many as 3.6 million people could be in need of humanitarian assistance and that is where our government can and must do more. So far, only half the United Nations' requests for aid have been met.

If we talk about people being killed, an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people have been killed on both sides in four months of fighting in Libya. Almost 500,000 people have left the country since the crisis began, while about 330,000 people have been internally displaced. It is estimated by the UN that at least 1,000 people, mainly men, have been kidnapped or have disappeared in Misrata since the conflict began in February.

The UN refugee agency reports that tens of thousands of people on both sides of the battle lines in Libya are facing a critical shortage of essential goods, including food, medicine and fuel.

The situation on the Tunisian border is increasingly strained as Tunisian authorities struggle to absorb the tens of thousands of Libyans fleeing the conflict. Under the United Nations' worst-case scenario, as many as 3.6 million people in the country could eventually require humanitarian assistance.

This is why we have to support those people. We need to be there to support all the women and all the people living in Libya.

There are probably people in Canada of Libyan origin and I sincerely believe they would be proud that we are supporting them. I would not want to have to inform any of them that their family members back in Libya had been killed or raped. I believe we must support them out of respect for human rights. These people have the right to feel safe in their homes.

Public Safety June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have forgotten about my former colleagues in the Canadian armed forces reserve. Nearly 10 years after the government began implementing a plan for buying back pensions, the plan is only 4% complete. Reservists will have to wait up to seven years to get information about their pension.

What is more, the defence department tried to fix the situation, but it still became worse.

Will the government recognize that it failed on this issue and fix the problem once and for all?

The Budget June 9th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased that the budget contains a measure to resolve the issue of harmonized sales tax in Quebec, but I also find it completely normal that it was included. We cannot support a budget just because it contains one positive measure. There are many other problems with this budget; for example, it does nothing to reduce poverty. That said, I am very pleased to see that the Conservatives thought to include this measure in the budget.

The Budget June 9th, 2011

Madam Speaker, it is clear to me that the Canada pension plan must provide a stable solution for all Canadian seniors. Our seniors must not be living in precarious situations. The Canadian government must take action to ensure that pensions compensate Canadian workers who have worked hard their entire lives.