House of Commons photo

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

Quebec City Arena October 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, Mayor Labeaume is tired of waiting for the federal government and he has decided to go ahead with construction of a multi-purpose arena. The mayor of Quebec City points out that the federal government has until December 31 to announce its financial involvement, without which Quebec City's Olympic bid could be compromised.

Can the federal government confirm that it will fund up to 45%, as the Government of Quebec has promised to do, of construction of a new multi-purpose arena, in order not to jeopardize Quebec City's Olympic bid—

Terrebonne Chamber of Commerce September 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to draw attention to the 75th anniversary of the Chambre de commerce de Terrebonne. Founded in 1935, the organization now has more than 600 members who, through their energy and commitment, contribute greatly to the city of Terrebonne and the entire regional county municipality of Les Moulins.

The 41 presidents who have each taken their turn heading the organization have worked hard to make this organization what it is today: a fixture in the region's economy.

This year, the chamber of commerce set a goal of revitalizing the businesses in Old Terrebonne. It is a credit to the chamber of commerce that it wants to showcase this historic neighbourhood in my riding, a jewel in the crown of the Quebec nation.

I would like to pay tribute to the board of directors and its president, Michel Philippe, who are continuing the work their predecessors began. I am sure that this anniversary will be extremely successful.

Balanced Refugee Reform Act April 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I greatly appreciate the minister's comments. The issue with this bill is the following: will all the parties in the House be able to work together in order to ensure that asylum seekers are treated with the utmost fairness and honesty?

I believe both sides have work to do. In fact, with this bill, the minister is appropriating a great deal of power. Would he be prepared to exchange some of these powers for other elements that would make the process more transparent? In that way, even members of the House who are not on the committee could work with Citizenship and Immigration in order to explain in full the measures. In addition, it would also allow them to properly counsel new arrivals in their riding who ask them for help in obtaining refugee status.

Balanced Refugee Reform Act April 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very insightful question. I have been listening to the speeches on this bill for some time now. I believe that everyone has good intentions. The opposition members all seem to be saying that they want to examine this bill as fairly as possible.

The minister also seems to have good intentions. Yesterday and earlier this week he was saying that he thought certain aspects could be improved. He has questions. He wants to know what the opposition thinks of all this. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Nonetheless, Conservative ideology frightens me.

Will he be able to rise above his government's mindset on safe countries and not so safe countries? I certainly hope so. The minister seems to be open and to have a sense of justice.

Balanced Refugee Reform Act April 29th, 2010

Madam Speaker, it was in March that the federal government introduced the bill we are discussing today, Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Federal Courts Act and called it part of its balanced refugee reform. The minister said that its objective is to preserve the system's integrity by reducing wait times for refugee claims to be processed and, he said, to give people the protection they need more quickly. The bill proposes spending an additional $540.7 million over five years.

The Bloc Québécois will support this bill so that it is referred to committee and an in-depth study can be undertaken of the refugee system, its flaws and the proposed amendments. The Bloc Québécois will work hard to see that all the necessary amendments are passed so that this reform is effective and so that claims are processed quickly and processed fairly, in the case of refugees. Many of the measures in this bill are interesting. And even though they are being proposed as part of the reform of Canada's asylum system, we believe that they are hiding other, more worrying proposals. In our opinion, the bill we are discussing today, Bill C-11, contains fundamental flaws.

What we noticed as we were going through this bill initially was the typically Conservative ideology that seeks to differentiate between genuine and false claimants. We are concerned about that because we believe that reforms based on that kind of discriminatory principle could be deeply prejudicial toward refugees. The bill also gives the minister significant latitude in designing the asylum-granting system. We also noticed that several of the measures announced as part of this reform do not appear in the bill. For example, the minister can designate countries of origin according to criteria set out in regulations published in the Canada Gazette, but the criteria used in creating the list of safe countries cannot be debated in the House. We believe that lacks transparency. The minister is really giving himself a lot of powers.

Several other measures also make us worry about the politicization of the system. First, the minister may designate, by order, a country whose classes of nationals, in the Minister’s opinion, meet the criteria established by the regulations. Second, the minister can designate countries whose nationals are precluded from appealing decisions to the refugee appeal division. Third, the minister can prohibit nationals of certain countries from applying for protection. Fourth, the minister can grant an exemption from any obligations of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act on humanitarian and compassionate grounds or on public policy grounds.

Once again, the minister really would be assuming a lot of powers.

The Bloc Québécois believes that an appeal process for refugee claimants should have been instituted when the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act came into force in June 2002. In fact, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration unanimously passed a Bloc Québécois motion requiring the federal government to set up a refugee appeal division immediately.

We also introduced Bill C-280 in 2006, which became BIll C-291 in 2009, with the aim of establishing a real refugee appeal division. Unfortunately, the House's two official parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals, joined forces to defeat that bill. Members on both sides either abstained or were absent.

Some members hid behind the curtains, so they would not have to vote.

The Bloc Québécois is delighted that the bill before us could finally establish a refugee appeal division and allow new measures to be added to the system, even though the refugee appeal division will not be up and running until two years after the new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act comes into force.

Also, unsuccessful claimants from countries that are deemed safe will have no right to appeal the initial decision rendered by public servants. We believe this measure is far too strict. It is unfair that claimants from a safe country whose first application is denied cannot appeal their cases before the refugee appeal division, and instead must take their cases to Federal Court.

Earlier I spoke about designated countries of origin. I spoke about designated countries and other countries. The United Kingdom uses a fast tracking process to examine refugee claims from designated countries. Canada, on the other hand, would assess all claims from all countries the same way. The only reason the process would be any faster is that unsuccessful claimants from countries that are deemed safe will have no right to appeal their case before the new refugee appeal division. We think this measure is discriminatory.

The principle of safe countries raises a number of other concerns. First, the fact that a refugee can be classified as a false claimant even before his or her case is analyzed can be extremely prejudicial. Even though the government assures us that all claims will be analyzed on their own merits, it cannot guarantee that no mistakes will be made in first-level decisions. For this reason in particular, the committee must look at this issue and consider how such a designation by the minister could affect refugee claimants.

The Bloc Québécois had made it known that it wanted all failed refugee claimants to have access to the refugee appeal division, regardless of their country of origin. Our critic on the committee is willing to look at any measures that would correct this flaw, such as including criteria for designating safe countries in the bill. As things now stand, these criteria would be established by regulation.

Canada's asylum system has always been based on reliable, solid resources that make for sound decisions. The proposal to submit all the necessary documents within eight days and hold hearings within 60 days after the claim is made could mean a change in this procedure and could have serious consequences for refugees. With such short deadlines, decision-makers could make decisions too quickly, and the quality of the decisions would suffer as a result.

Refugees have the right to find a lawyer and assemble all the documents they need for their testimony. This is a fundamental rule of justice.

I want to make one last point. The fact that IRB officials make the first-level decisions is problematic. These officials are probably long-standing employees, but it is essential that they demonstrate a certain level of independence.

Lastly, Bill C-11 must be studied in committee, because it has major flaws. That is why it will be sent to committee. I am sure that our critic on the committee will clearly state the Bloc's position.

National Volunteer Week April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in celebration of National Volunteer Week, with this year's theme, “Volunteer for life”, I would like to thank all of my constituents who dedicate their time to volunteering. I remind them that volunteering is so valuable that it is essentially priceless. I would also like to congratulate two organizations in Terrebonne—Blainville who are celebrating important anniversaries in 2010.

The Centre d'action bénévole in Moulins is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and the people of Terrebonne-Blainville appreciate the work that this organization has done to improve the quality of life of the less fortunate. I would like to congratulate Gisèle Rivet in particular, because she has been volunteering her time at the centre from the beginning.

A.B.C. des Manoirs has been working in the field of literacy for 25 years now. This organization should be proud of its accomplishments in helping adults of all ages learn to read and write.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I would like to thank each and every volunteer.

Business of Supply April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see that this member from New Brunswick is wedging a fight for the same reasons we do. The difference between him and I is that I am part of a nation that was recognized by this Parliament and this government. A nation should not be considered on the same level as just another region within Canada.

As a recognized nation, are we going to accept that our weight should be decreased in the House of Commons? Does the hon. member agree that the Quebec nation should keep 24.35% of the seats, something that should normally be a vested right?

Business of Supply April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois members in this House have never been against justice for Canadians and Canadian provinces. It is only fair to give representation to provinces whose population is increasing because of a population explosion. We have nothing against that. However, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. In an effort to be fair to the three provinces whose populations are exploding, are we being fair to Quebec, which will lose political weight in this House? Is this fair to Quebec and will Quebec end up keeping what the National Assembly is asking for, namely the equivalent of 24.35% of its weight in this House? I am asking the hon. member.

They do not seem to realize that we are currently not fighting against them, but fighting to continue to exist and to maintain our political weight in this House. What the government is trying to do through the bill that will be introduced is to reduce this political weight and take away our ability to intervene as a nation. It is only natural that the francophone Quebec nation be represented at the same level in the House and keep what it was granted in 1867. We have to be able to maintain our political weight. I find it quite odd that they are trying to pretend we are saying things that are not entirely true.

Business of Supply April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, what I like about these Conservative members is that they confuse apples with oranges. The hon. member missed the point. In fact, I think he did not even read the report coming out of the Quebec City region at the time. That is not at all what we were talking about. We were talking only about representation in terms of political parties. He can laugh all he wants, but he just wasted a lot of time mixing things up.

We want the Conservatives to know that we are not against them increasing representation in the three provinces that need it. Quebec City can remember that some day. If Quebec's political weight in the House of Commons is decreased he just might lose his Conservative MPs. Then perhaps he will realize that we do not mix our apples and oranges.

Business of Supply April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Today, we are discussing the following motion presented and amended by the Bloc Québécois:

That the House denounce the fact that the government seeks to marginalize the Quebec nation by introducing a bill to decrease Quebec’s political weight in the House, and call on the government not to enact any legislation that would reduce Quebec's current representation in the House of Commons of 24.35% of the seats.

This motion is in response to the fact that the Conservative Party has introduced, on three occasions, a bill or motion to diminish the political weight of Quebec in this House.

The Conservatives recognized the Quebec nation to some extent. However, they have since systematically attacked this nation and rejected any proposal to give tangible expression to that recognition.

They introduced Bill C-12, which would further marginalize the Quebec nation in Canada.

In 1867, when the Canadian Confederation or federation came together, Quebec's weight was 36% in terms of seats. At this rate, we will have only 22.4% of the seats in 2014. This government will no longer engage in open federalism but will be muzzling the provinces.

Every time a bill has been introduced to reduce Quebec's political weight in the House, Quebec's National Assembly has taken a stand and unanimously demanded withdrawal of the bill. First, there was Bill C-56, then Bill C-22, and now Bill C-12. More than 85% of Quebec's elected representatives are against this bill. We must examine the current provisions.

Since 1867, what steps have reduced Quebec's political weight?

The British North America Act enacted in 1867 contained two extremely important sections.

Section 51 established the House of Commons' representation system and said that a province would maintain the same number of seats even if its relative population decreased. And we should not forget that when Upper and Lower Canada were united, each had the same number of seats.

Then there is section 52:

The Number of Members of the House of Commons may be from time to time increased by the Parliament of Canada, provided the proportionate Representation of the Provinces prescribed by this Act is not thereby disturbed.

Two sections in the British North America Act, sections 51 and 52, ensured that seat distribution amongst the provinces in the House could be changed only by London and it ensured that the number of seats would remain the same, even if a province's population dropped. That was in 1867.

In 1907, the territories became an exception to these rules. Federal territories gained the right to be represented in the House even though their population did not warrant it under proportional representation.

Then, in 1915, Prince Edward Island joined. It had a small population. It asked for additional protection, which was added in 1915 and stated that a province could not have fewer members of the House of Commons than senators. This protection has been maintained over the years. The changes between 1867 and 1915 gave way to other means of stemming the loss of seats for provinces with slow population growth.

Section 51 of the act that was patriated along with the Constitution says that there is a ceiling. I think that it is important to point out that for some provinces, population losses in demographic terms were ignored. Furthermore, at the time, London had the power to amend the act. Now that the Constitution has been patriated, we have had the power since 1949 to amend it and to make our own laws here in the House of Commons, as long as seven provinces representing 50% of the population plus one agree with any constitutional change. I think that is important because there is some doubt about whether the current Conservative government has the right to introduce a change to the Representation Act in terms of ridings. Does it have that right? The government says that it does. It is hiding behind democracy and claiming that its proposal would ensure better representation for the people of three provinces. However, we do not believe that that is its real agenda. It is trying to accommodate certain provinces to ensure that the people of those provinces elect federalist Conservative and Liberal members and that, as a result, Quebec loses its political weight in this federation. The Conservative government is trying to raise the ceiling used to calculate each province's population-based representation because it wants to give more seats to the provinces with the fastest-growing populations.

Since 1985, twelve additional seats have been given to six provinces with low demographic growth rates. Today, seven provinces benefit from the system that was brought in, but as everyone knows, Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia are at a disadvantage. The Conservative government can find a legitimate way to fix the problem, but it must protect provinces whose population is declining relative to the whole. We believe that, by focusing too closely on approximating pure representation by population, the government is in danger of violating paragraph 42(1)(a), which, as we saw earlier, enshrines modified proportionate representation.

As I said earlier, since 1982, when the Constitution was patriated, the consent of at least seven provinces has been required to make changes to representation in the House of Commons. We believe that if the government wants to bring in representation by population, it will have to seek the support of seven provinces representing half of Canada's population because this matter falls under the Constitution of Canada.