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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

Gala Des Jutra February 26th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Théâtre Saint-Denis was the scene for a celebration of the cinema in Quebec. It was also an opportunity to get to know our cinema better, and an invitation to aspiring filmmakers.

The 3rd Jutra awards ceremony, a gala event ably hosted by Élyse Guilbault and Yves Jacques, gave us a glimpse of the latest fine offerings in this field of endeavour in Quebec.

Tribute was paid to master filmmaker Gilles Carle for the excellence of his work. Emotions ran high as the prolific Mr. Carle—who has 47 films to his credit—was warmly applauded. Maelström , Hochelaga , La vie après l'amour , La beauté de Pandore , La Bouteille , Le petit ciel , Full Blast , The Art of War , La moitié gauche du frigo , Stardom , Possible Worlds , Les muses orphelines and more bore testimony to the original talent of Quebec's artistic colony and the ability of our creators to take our vision and make it universal.

The public is right to support the films Quebec has to offer.

Parental Leave February 21st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, does the minister realize that, if she agreed finally to negotiate with the government of Quebec to enable it to establish its own parental leave program, the program would be far less prejudicial to women?

Parental Leave February 21st, 2001

Mr. Speaker, entitlement under the parental leave program of the federal government for women eligible for employment insurance discriminates against women who give birth prematurely.

My question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. Is the minister prepared to amend Bill C-2 to treat these women fairly and enable them to enjoy extended parental leave?

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act February 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, my colleague was explaining to us that there was already an institute for sustainable development in his riding. He seemed to be a little bit disappointed that the federal government wanted to propose a foundation. If I understood correctly, he seemed to say that it would have been better to put the funds allocated for the establishment of the foundation into the institute for sustainable development in his riding.

My question to the hon. member is twofold. First, does the hon. member think that this is unacceptable interference by the federal government in a provincial jurisdiction, which seems to be the objective of the Bill C-4? Second, is the hon. member going to take the time to explain to the people of his riding the federal government's actions?

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act February 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I have clearly understood my colleague's question.

As I said at the start of my speech, I wanted to go beyond the theoretical framework in order to explain the view of this bill held by the women of Canada and Quebec. A group of women got together to look at this bill and we found it did not go far enough, that it did not contain enough guarantees.

However, some things were obvious. We did not go to see what the situation was in the other provinces, but the Government of Quebec already has a sustainable development fund of $45 million.

According to the bill, the government is going to use a certain amount in order to certain things in Quebec. It is very clear to us that this is federal interference in an area that falls under provincial jurisdiction.

It seems to me that my colleagues in the House are sufficiently clever to understand. I think it is clear: a province is in the best position to know its own needs.

Going still further, the women expressed concerns that the federal government would uses this money to interfere in the municipalities' environmental management, for instance municipalities on the shores of waterways wishing to create a special project. This is a concern to me. There is no guarantee in the bill, nothing to specify what would happen.

As hon. members are aware, women are prudent creatures. They feel that the best action if one is not sure is no action. Canadian women and Quebec women have reservations about this bill and wish no action to be taken.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act February 19th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to address the House.

I am not sure whether I am pleased or displeased to do so, particularly since I have been watching the debates since 11 a.m. and I am under the impression that everything has already been said about this bill and I would not want to repeat the same comments.

I would like to ad lib, and I hope that I can accurately express the concerns of women. As the Chair knows, I take a great interest in this issue. In fact, I am the Bloc Quebecois critic for the status of women.

Women are very concerned about the environment and about health, education, family policies and poverty.

Looking at the bill before us, it is obvious that women cannot be opposed to it, since it is a small step in the right direction.

However, we feel that this bill is incomplete. Moreover, women do not trust it. This bill reflects a blatant lack of respect for the table. It lacks transparency, and duplication, including in Quebec, costs money.

I will discuss these issues so as to explain the position of Canadian and Quebec women on this bill.

First off, we would ask the minister to go and do his homework, very simply because the bill is incomplete. There is absolutely no reference to the requests made at the issue table. A person who belongs to a group of women knows all about an issue table is.

An issue table can be bodies or people each with their own attributes agreed on undertaking a project and giving their opinion. This is very special, because these people are qualified to give their opinion and because it costs money.

When it costs moneys, the group agrees to use the report prepared by the issue table and to implement it. People agreed on that. Women are very aware of the value of money, because they are poor and do not have their fair share of this product. Women do not necessarily enjoy equality.

This bill is incomplete. The groups working at the issue table on the bill came up with eight ideas. Eight elements were advocated. The government chose only two.

To the women's groups, this shows lack of respect for the individuals and the organizations working at this table. The women are very perplexed about what will happen next. When there is no respect for the remarks made at an issue table, for what it establishes, for what it advocates, how will people react later on in setting up this famous bill. Will it be respected?

Third, women think that the bill is lacking in transparency because of the process for appointing directors. If I read correctly, if I understand the bill correctly, the governor in council will appoint seven directors out of fifteen. That will leave eight directors to be appointed. These eight directors will be appointed by the other seven, who have been appointed by the governor in council.

I can presume, even though it does not mean that it is indeed what is going to happen, that the governor in council will appoint people it trusts. Maybe these people will in turn appoint people they know and trust. In fact, people will appoint each other. That means that the government has not set up a transparent process to appoint members to the board of directors.

Moreover, we have no guarantees with regard to the projects that will be favoured by this foundation because the directors who will appoint each other will most likely favour projects for which they have a personal preference. The bill does not provide for any mechanism for project selection. Again, the recommendation from the table was not followed. As for directors, there is no mechanism to ensure transparency with regard to their appointment and their eligibility.

Fourth, we have eligibility criteria for projects, but there are none in the bill. For women's groups, this bill certainly does not inspire confidence.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, this is something we could support, although it is a bit timid. What guarantees can the federal government give women that the money allocated to this foundation will be spent wisely and legally, in a transparent way, and how will the expenditures be accounted for?

At a time when one out of five children in Canada is poor and when a lot of single mothers in Quebec are having trouble making ends meet, the government is spending $100 million establishing this foundation, which leaves women wondering how these millions of dollars are going to be spent. As I said earlier, women are concerned about the environment, but also about poverty.

I know of a support group for women with AIDS. This Canadian group just had a grant application for $15,000 turned down by Health Canada, because it does not necessarily look out for all women. Yet this group only needed $15,000. The government scrutinizes the work of this support group, but introduces a bill with no mechanism to ensure the good management of public funds and the transparency of the appointments to the foundation board. I do not get it. I would also remind the House that in Quebec we already have a fund. Bill C-4 is promoting the same thing.

What I want to say is that it is upsetting, really upsetting, and for a woman it is even insulting. The Liberal government is going to use money to do the same thing in Quebec when we, in Quebec, have already allocated money and have our own bill. This is duplication. In this sense, I wish the federal government would take the money it wants to use and give it to Quebec, so that we can do what we want with it.

However, I believe that it is not only in Quebec that things happen this way. I think this happens also in the other provinces. In this respect, women are tired of seeing that for the sake of power and political visibility, our political leaders take money and use it for other things than what could help fight poverty, such as social housing, or to help children, and women with children, and to eliminate poverty.

To conclude, I would like to say that the environment, greenhouse gases and clean air are issues very dear to me personally. The future quality of life of Quebecers, Canadians and their children depends on it.

I can guarantee that, if there are no assurances that all the money allocated for the implementation of the bill will indeed be used to develop new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as requested by the technology issues table, women will continue to oppose this bill.

Employment Insurance Act February 13th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, it is not only as the Bloc Quebecois critic for the status of women that I rise this afternoon in the House, but also as a woman who has paid employment insurance premiums all her life and who has never been able to get any benefits.

During my maiden speech in the House, reacting to the throne speech, I said that the Liberal government does not care about the realities and the hardships of Canadians and Quebecers.

I would again like to quote a sentence that caught my attention when Her Excellency, the Governor General of Canada, the Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, read the throne speech, where the intention of the Liberal government to “secure a higher quality of life for all Canadians” is expressed.

The first real evidence of this true intention to secure a higher quality of life was the minister's reform proposing a plan that is completely out of sync with the new social and economic realities of women living in Canada as well as in Quebec.

The minister knows very well that the first persons to be penalized by her new reform are the women, more than 70% of whom have precarious jobs and frequently rely on employment insurance because they cannot find a stable and well paid job.

Too often, these women are the sole support of a single parent family. They do not have a stable job, but must nonetheless support their children, feed them, clothe them and give them a good education, and they would certainly have wished for a little more compassion from the minister.

There are also some sections of the Employment Insurance Act that discriminate against women. Let me explain.

To be eligible for maternity or parental benefits, one needs 600 hours of work, while someone working in a high unemployment area can be eligible for EI benefits with only 420 hours of work. A woman living in the same area would need 600 hours to be eligible for maternity benefits. Previously, the requirement was for 300 hours or 20 hours spread over 15 weeks.

Moreover, the new eligibility criteria for parental leave are unfair to women who were supposed to give birth after January 1 and asked for parental leave but were unfortunate enough to have their child before that date. They cannot ask for the 35 week parental leave because there is no flexibility in the act. It is not their fault if they had their child at the beginning of December even though they were not expected to give birth until January 15.

What happens then? Did the government think about the adverse effects of this situation for these women and their families? Did the government not think that these women were also hoping to benefit from the new measures, however limited they may be, just like other women? What about the thousands of self-employed workers who were also forgotten?

According to Statistics Canada, self-employed workers account for 18% to 20% of the total workforce. The monitoring and assessment report confirms that this category of workers is experiencing strong growth.

Yet, these workers are still excluded from the employment insurance plan. We also know that women account for over 40% of these self-employed workers. Almost one worker in five is not covered by the new employment insurance plan merely because of the nature of his or her work, and that group is constantly growing in Canada.

Earlier, I said that some workers were forgotten, excluded from the act. There is no question that the Liberal government and the Minister of Human Resources Development lack vision and are not very familiar with the realities of the labour market.

Yet, in an HRDC release dated February 12, 1998, the then Minister of Human Resources Development and current Minister for International Trade said that one of the objectives of the employment insurance reform was to adapt the plan to the new realities of the labour market. The following is an excerpt from that release:

The objectives of the employment insurance reform were to reduce costs and modernize the plan to better reflect the social and economic realities facing all Canadians.

This is not what is happening, because self-employment is also part of the new social and economic realities.

The Liberal government and the minister are also acting in bad faith. During the last election campaign, the Prime Minister himself said the following during an interview given to the Canadian Press :

We realized that it was not a good decision in the sense that we should not have done it.

The Prime Minister was referring to the cuts made by his government to the employment insurance plan.

Even Minister Coderre said “After a majority Liberal government is elected, we are going to re-establish the process and ensure that the changes are appropriate and respond in large part to the realities and needs of the population”.

Employment insurance has become a privilege for the women of Quebec and of Canada. This is why the Bloc Quebecois concludes that employment insurance reform has been a double, nay, a triple, failure.

With a view to shouldering greater responsibility for the disadvantaged, a fair and equitable distribution of the billions of dollars in the employment insurance fund in the hands of the Liberal government, with a view to taking into consideration the endlessly increasing numbers of people living below the poverty line, with a view to helping poor families in desperate and terribly urgent need, with a view to providing the children of Quebec and of Canada with three meals a day, the Bloc Quebecois would have preferred the government to have presented two separate bills.

The first of these would focus on dealing with the urgent situations to which I have referred, like the mothers of premature babies who cannot take advantage of the new provisions. The second would concentrate on administration of the employment insurance fund. This approach would provide a prompt response to the needs of the forgotten members of society, while leaving the more technical matters to be debated in committee.

In its desire to share the wealth, and in its great magnanimity, the government prefers to gets its hands immediately on the huge surplus in the fund, and to forget about the people, to forget about all its fine promises, to forget about the dire living conditions into which it is forcing families in need in Quebec and in the rest of Canada.

I again call upon the government on behalf of my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois for justice and social equity. Rest assured that the Bloc Quebecois is still prepared to pass improvements to the program quickly, separate from the debate on administration of the fund.

Parental Leave February 5th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development does not understand the real issue. Her attitude is detrimental to young parents in Quebec.

Is there anyone in this government who can tell me if he or she realizes what is meant by a true parental benefits program for all parents without exception?

Parental Leave February 5th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, as part of its family policy, the Quebec government is about to establish its own parental leave program, which will be much more comprehensive and will include all new parents.

My question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. Will the federal government finally see the light and negotiate with Quebec, so that the federal funds available for parental leave can be added to those of the Quebec program, as provided under section 69 of the act, this in the best interests of young parents in Quebec?

Employment Insurance Act February 5th, 2001

Mr. Speaker, given what we were told about the employment insurance bill, it is obvious that it will be detrimental to Canadians.

The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst has eloquently described the negative impact the Liberal policy has had in his riding. I would ask the hon. member if his constituents are aware of this negative impact and how far they are prepared to go to get some respect.