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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Terrebonne—Blainville (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 23% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act October 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is quite troubling. Canada has signed more than 20 bilateral agreements. By signing bilateral agreements, the Canadian government is ignoring certain global laws concerning protective measures for workers or unions, human rights, the environment, etc.

It is all very well and good to say that these types of bilateral agreements contain laws to protect the environment and workers, but it is just hearsay. Nothing sticks to realities, to global agreements, and we should be worried. Not only is this wrong, it is not in keeping with Canada and the image it usually projects.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act October 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the member is right. I find it unfortunate that the government is willing to encourage trade at any cost, without any thought to what could happen, the results, the consequences.

This government has always been reluctant when it comes time to force an issue. It is as though they are scared to lose out by pushing human rights issues, fair trade and the creation of benchmarks and standards.

If I were a member of this government, I would be ashamed to not be able to put my foot down more. I would be ashamed to only be able to back the business side of things without being able to focus on getting a fair and equitable bill or agreement.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act October 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-46, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Panama, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Panama and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Panama.

To begin, I would like to say that the Bloc Québécois does not support this bill, mostly for the same reasons that it is against so many bills concerning the implementation of bilateral free trade agreements between Canada and certain countries. In this particular case, there is the additional issue of Panama being a tax haven, one that is on France's blacklist and the OECD's grey list. The latter lists countries that have committed to exchanging tax information but that have not substantially implemented the rules.

We know that some countries are tax havens. The OECD has come up with four criteria to determine if a country is a tax haven. Countries wanting to do business or trade with countries that are tax havens must ensure that those countries do not meet these four criteria.

There are tax havens with tax rates so low as to be non-existent, with no transparency when it comes to their laws, specifically their tax laws, and with legal or administrative barriers to sharing information. They attract investments simply for tax reasons, not for any economic activity per se. One of those countries is Panama.

The Bloc Québécois wants Canada to ensure that it can do business transparently, that it can get all available information on, for instance, Canadian or Panamanian businesses that want to do business here, so we can see where the money goes, who is paying taxes and how much.

We are calling on the Conservative government to sign a tax information exchange agreement with Panama. At present, we have no guarantee that any tax information exchange agreements with Panama have been signed or that such agreements provide a tax exemption for subsidiaries located in jurisdictions with which we have agreements. What does that mean? It means that Canada signs many bilateral free trade agreements, and Canadian subsidiaries that operate on islands or in countries with which we have such agreements should, theoretically, bring profits earned there back to Canada in order to pay taxes.

Canada does not force them do so. In fact, in 2007, the Conservative government expanded the definition of designated countries in the Income Tax Regulations in order to accommodate a country with which Canada concluded a tax information exchange agreement. Thus, income earned by a business operated by a foreign subsidiary in a country that has concluded a tax information exchange agreement is tax-exempt.

In 2007, the Conservative government made changes that distorted information exchange agreements. These agreements not only allow information exchanges, but also allow subsidiaries located in the targeted jurisdictions to be tax-exempt. That is why the Bloc Québécois is calling on Canada to implement a real tax treaty to improve the transparency of Panama's financial institutions and effectively fight tax evasion before agreeing to ratify a free trade agreement. Since Panama is a tax haven, we believe it will be easy for companies and individuals to set up there or to invest money there. There will be no transparency, and we will not know how much money these people make, how much they should pay in taxes and whether these taxes will be sent back to Canada. That is one of the reasons we do not accept this free trade agreement.

There is another reason behind our position. The Bloc Québécois is open to trade, but not at just any cost. It is open to trade if human rights are respected. Panama has a right-wing government that adopted legislation considered anti-union on June 30, 2010. That legislation includes a labour code reform that is perceived to be repressive since it would criminalize workers who demonstrate to defend their rights. In August, the Panamanian government agreed to review the legislation. We still have cause for concern about whether Panama's government really intends to comply with International Labour Organization conventions. I think it is important to postpone signing the free trade agreement and ensure that the Panamanian government changes its attitude toward unions and workers in its country.

The Bloc Québécois is open to trade, but its focus is fair globalization. We believe that in order for trade to be mutually beneficial, it must first be fair. A trading system that results in exploitation in poor countries and dumping in rich countries is not viable. The Bloc Québécois will never tolerate a system of free trade that would result in a race to the bottom. The absence of environmental or labour standards in trade agreements puts a great deal of pressure on our industries, especially our traditional industries. It is very difficult for them to compete with products made with no regard for basic social rights.

The Bloc Québécois believes that child labour, forced labour and the denial of workers' fundamental rights are a form of unfair competition, just like, or even more than, export subsidies and dumping. Prohibition of these practices is widely accepted at the international level, as reflected by the large number of countries that have signed the International Labour Organization's eight fundamental conventions. We must have the means to protect ourselves against such practices.

Trade agreements and trade laws do not protect our businesses and our workers from this social dumping. If a country wants to benefit from free trade, in return, it has to accept a certain number of basic rules, with regard to social rights in particular. Environmental organizations and human rights groups have been concerned about this issue for a long time. More recently, though, it has become a major economic issue. Quebec has proportionally more industries threatened by competition from Asia than the rest of Canada. Quebec is at the forefront of this debate.

That is why the Bloc Québécois is urging the federal government to revise its positions in trade negotiations in order to ensure that trade agreements include clauses ensuring compliance with international labour standards as well as respect for human rights and the environment.

Is my time already up, Mr. Speaker?

Conservative Party October 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party does not exist in Bourassa. The defunct Conservative riding association seems to have done nothing but collect donations from contractors involved in renovation work on Parliament Hill. How else to explain a businessman from Markham, Ontario, making a donation to an obscure Conservative Party candidate on the Island of Montreal?

Will the Quebec lieutenant recognize that the Bourassa Conservative riding association was nothing but an empty shell for collecting donations from contractors involved in renovation work on Parliament Hill?

Conservative Party October 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative riding association in Bourassa has folded. It had not produced any financial reports in a long time. In fact, it seems to have done nothing other than collect donations from contractors who were awarded government contracts. The Conservatives set up a bogus association, collected $35,000 from a few cocktail parties and fundraisers, then closed the books. It was a fly-by-night affair.

Is that more or less the story behind the dissolution of the Bourassa Conservative riding association?

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, that is a good comment. If my memory serves me well, the member for Beauce flirted somewhat with Quebec sovereignty. I think he worked in the office of a Quebec minister or MNA.

Without necessarily congratulating him, I think that he has finally understood that respect for a nation is important. Respect for a nation starts with respect for its economic independence. That is what the Bloc is pushing for and what the Quebec nation wants. It wants respect and to be allowed to decide what to do with its money and what authority it will exercise with that money.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I appreciate it all the more as I am well aware of his altruistic nature. This gives me the opportunity to point out that this is not the first time we have heard a Conservative member endorse private health care. This government's ideology favours the private sector. Social issues are not its forte.

Quebec has always been able to provide services and care for all of its citizens, and particularly first nations. Federalist Canadian governments have failed in that regard. We were able to negotiate the Paix des Braves. The people of Quebec are a nation. Quebec is therefore able to negotiate with other nations, including the Canadian nation and aboriginal nations. We are able to reach agreements for the benefit of all.

Business of Supply October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to thank my colleague for leaving me time to speak about this motion, and I want to congratulate her on her speech.

This extremely important motion has been introduced several times by the Bloc Québécois. Now, the member for Beauce, to our great surprise, has decided to defend this position; he is supporting it and is defending it. We hope that he will be able to explain to his colleagues in the Conservative Party, the governing party, Quebec's position on this issue. The Quebec National Assembly and the Bloc Québécois have been calling for this for a long time.

Over the years, Ottawa has been throwing money into areas outside of its jurisdiction. As my colleague explained, in 1867, at the time of Confederation, the provinces were given their own jurisdictions. That agreement has not been modified since. But what money has the federal government been spending in jurisdictions exclusive to the provinces? It has been spending the money that it has collected over the years from our taxes. It collected money that it is using to spend in provincial areas of jurisdiction.

In 2001, Quebec Premier Bernard Landry established the Séguin commission in order to try to understand what was happening and why the federal government was spending so much or interfering so much in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction. It was determined that there was a fiscal imbalance. There was so much money in Ottawa and the provinces needed so much money that, quite often, they were tempted to accept interference from the federal government in their areas of jurisdiction.

The federal government spends money on three kinds of transfer payments. The first is conditional transfers, in which Ottawa gives money to Quebec and the provinces on condition that they respect federal priorities in their own areas of jurisdiction, which is disgraceful. Mr. Speaker, this is just as though I, as a member, tell you where to live, tell you what kind of house to have and that I will give you $500 as long as you paint your walls a certain colour. I will give you $500, but in return, you have to accept my decision, my ideas.

The federal government also spends money providing direct services to the population in areas that are in no way, in absolutely no way, part of federal jurisdiction.

Earlier, I listened to a Liberal member ask my colleague a question about health. Health is a provincial jurisdiction. Why would we agree to let the federal government put money into or transfer money into a provincial jurisdiction?

The third type of spending is related to corporate subsidies and cheques for people, once again, in fields that are outside federal jurisdiction.

It is obvious that when the federal has too much money and is trying to grab power beyond its limits, it spends. It has the federal spending power and it assumes more powers. This works against the provinces. We now know that this federal spending power has no constitutional basis.

There has always been a consensus on this in Quebec. Every government has consistently taken the position that the so-called federal power to spend in all areas simply does not exist. Federal intrusions into Quebec's jurisdictions are unconstitutional and were condemned by Jean Lesage, Jean-Jacques Bertrand, Robert Bourassa, René Lévesque, Lucien Bouchard and Benoît Pelletier, as my colleague said earlier. Benoît Pelletier was the intergovernmental affairs minister in the famous federalist government of Mr. Charest in Quebec.

In October 2007, the Bloc Québécois put forward a motion in the House of Commons asking that the bill the government was going to introduce on the federal spending power at least allow Quebec to opt out without condition. What does that mean? It means that since the federal government should not be spending in our jurisdictions but has money and insists on introducing Canada-wide programs, Quebec wants to opt out of these programs. Quebec wants to decide what sort of program to put in place for Quebeckers. What Quebec wants is not to have to go with the federal program. But even though it wants to opt out, it wants to receive the money for the program.

Take Quebec's child care system, for example. Quebec decided to set up this system, which is the envy of Canadian women and families. The federal government wants to introduce a Canada-wide child care system, but Quebec already has its own system. We are not saying that the government should not set up a Canada-wide system, but the system we have in Quebec is right for us. What we want is to be able to opt out of the federal system and have the money. If the government creates a Canada-wide child care system, it will give the money to all the provinces that use that system. At that point it should also give Quebec some money. Since we have our own child care system, we want to be able to have the money so that we can improve that system. But the federal government does not want to do that. It is intruding into Quebec's jurisdictions.

Every time the Bloc Québécois moved this motion it did it with Quebec's interests in mind, with the support of the Quebec National Assembly. This is what Quebec wants. The Conservatives are trying to argue against the Bloc Québécois and prove that we are wrong. Since they are masters at misleading the public, in December 2005, they promised to eliminate the fiscal imbalance between Ottawa and the provinces. In budget 2007, the government also indicated that it wanted to limit the so-called federal spending power. In budget 2008, it confirmed its plan to honour its commitment, but so far it still has not done anything. One Conservative member said the government must stop spending in areas of Quebec jurisdiction. That member, who is from Quebec, understands. Why is it that the other Conservative members do not understand? Will that member have enough power, clout and character to tell his government and his colleagues that they need to limit the federal spending power and let Quebec opt out of programs with full compensation?

Public Works and Government Services October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are prepared to do anything to fill their party coffers. They pass the hat among government contractors, or they shamelessly accept contributions from those who are trying to get lucrative contracts. Over the past three weeks, the Bloc Quebecois has uncovered about ten of those cases while taking a close look at just two cocktail fundraisers.

How many more cases are needed before the Prime Minister puts an end to this scheme?

Public Works and Government Services October 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the efforts made by Multivesco to get contracts are not limited to funding the Quebec Conservative lieutenant's election fund. In 2006 and 2007, as soon as the federal government suggested it might put more public servants in Gatineau, the head of Multivesco gave $3,000 to the member for Pontiac, who was then the political lieutenant for Quebec.

How can the Prime Minister condone such a system? Does one simply have to give money to the Conservatives to be awarded government contracts and rake in profits?