House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2021, with 8% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Small and Medium-sized Businesses April 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak today. My colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin moved a motion today that makes a lot of sense. This motion would support our small and medium-sized businesses and our local economies. That is why I ask all my colleagues to support this motion and set partisanship aside.

Canada has a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, and instead of promoting this culture, the government has raised taxes for small and medium-sized businesses since it came to power. The Canadian Convenience Stores Association acknowledges that the credit card swipe fees charged to Canadian retailers are among the highest in the world, ranging from 1.5% to 4% of the purchase price. In 2012, retailers paid $832 million in credit card fees. That is a huge amount.

Overall, 98% of all Canadian businesses are small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 100 employees. They are the backbone of our country’s economy. They created 70% of all new private sector jobs between 2002 and 2012. In spite of these compelling figures, nothing is being done to help them. As these businesses struggle with increasing expenses and very slim margins, many of them will have to shut down if they do not get the support they need during difficult times.

The NDP wants to help small and medium-sized businesses, which are Canada's real job creators. We want to invest in innovation and the manufacturing sector, which has lost 400,000 jobs since the Conservatives came to power. The Conservative strategy—letting credit card companies do as they please—is not working.

In July 2013, Canada's Competition Tribunal stated that the conditions imposed on Canadian businesses by Visa and MasterCard were anti-competitive and that the fees they charged were too high. The tribunal asked the government to fix these problems. The government merely reviewed its voluntary code of conduct—yes, voluntary—and did nothing else.

This Conservative government is abandoning small businesses in favour of more profitable and prosperous companies. In its 2015 budget, the government promises to reduce the small business tax rate, but that tax cut, like most of the measures in this budget, will not take effect until 2016.

The NDP wants concrete, effective measures. Promises that will not be kept until 2016 do not belong in a 2015 budget. The member for Saint-Lambert's Motion No. 585 will force the Conservatives to vote on this issue.

Ever since the Conservatives came to power, they have constantly been giving tax breaks worth tens of billions of dollars to large corporations. They can always find money to give tax breaks to wealthy corporations, but when it comes time to support small businesses that create jobs, they say there is no money.

I am confident that Canadians will remember this over the summer. They are fed up with this government favouring wealthy families and large corporations. They are tired of having a government that does not listen to them.

Status of Women April 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, a UN Women report was released on Monday. This report shows that governments have responsibilities they must assume in order to achieve true equality.

I would like to quote a passage from the report: “The divisions between economic and social policy are artificial; connecting the two is key to the realization of rights.”

Unfortunately, in recent years we have seen that the Conservatives do not listen to the experts. It is always the same whether the issue is gender equality, the environment or the economy. Since 2006, Canada has not been governed by knowledge, expertise or science. Canada has been abandoned to the inept and dishonest Conservative ideology.

Canadians have had enough. In October they will act accordingly.

The Budget April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

As I mentioned in my speech, the government claims it is investing in infrastructure. Unfortunately, those funds will not be accessible this year and actually not until four years from now.

I also said that infrastructure is important. In my region on the south shore, in the greater Longueuil, Saint-Bruno and Saint-Hubert area, all the mayors agree that we need money for infrastructure.

How are our provinces and municipalities supposed to function with this aging infrastructure? It is important to act now, and that is what we on this side of the House, the NDP, want to do.

The Budget April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my Liberal colleague for his relevant question.

The accords required that the Conservative government sit down and listen to the provinces and territories talk about their needs and priorities. We have asked the government many times not to impose measures arbitrarily.

Clearly, nothing has been done. We have not seen even the slightest political will to listen to the provinces and territories regarding the issue of health transfers.

I think the following metaphor is quite fitting: our free public health care system seems to be in palliative care. It is as though we were trying save something that is already dead.

The Conservative government does not understand that Canada has an aging population and that, ultimately, having high-quality health care when we need it will be a heavy burden for the provinces to bear.

The Budget April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Rivière-du-Nord.

The Conservative government promised a balanced budget that would benefit all Canadians. Instead, it presented a budget filled with election goodies. In the past four years, we on this side of the House have gotten used to seeing propagandist bills. However, the fact that the Conservatives presented a completely populist budget just to win votes in the election this fall is simply mind-blowing.

The budget is balanced because the Conservatives scraped up money by draining the contingency reserve and selling shares. They are using House of Cards as their inspiration as they scrounge for loose change, the same way they took their statistics from Kijiji.

They are promising measures that will not take effect until much later on. However, income splitting will take effect immediately. This government is dishonest. Believe me when I say that Canadians are not fools. They understand that the Conservatives' promises are worthless, not to mention that the budget promises came late this year, just like spring.

I was elected to defend the interests of the people of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert. I am obliged to tell them that this budget fails them. It is failing Quebeckers.

Let us talk about health. Health is being dealt a blow again this year. The government still has not understood the importance of investing in health. It does not understand that thousands of Quebeckers will not be able to pay for their health care costs, much like it does not understand that investing in health is investing in our country's economic future.

Treating a person over the age of 65 costs five times more than treating a person between the ages of 15 and 65. This government is failing our seniors, middle-class Canadians and the poorest members of our society, who will not have access to proper health care.

Quebeckers can only manage a hollow laugh because Canada must respect the Canada Health Act, which provides for universal health care. That means that all Canadians have the right to free public health care. However, how can the provinces apply these principles if cuts are being made to their funding?

The Conservative government is ignoring the provinces' desperate needs. It has refused to take Quebec's rapidly aging population into account when calculating health transfer amounts. Health transfers will no longer go up by 6% per year. They will be capped at 3%. This means a heavier burden for the provinces. The Conservatives are depriving the provinces of thousands of dollars. Canadians deserve better. They deserve a good health system.

Clearly the government does not understand a thing about health. It expects people to be happy with a few piddly programs when staff, nurses and doctors are in short supply and people are not getting the care they need at the right time.

Medical clinics are closing. Three clinics have already closed in my riding, Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, and another will be closing this year. That is unacceptable. The federal government must adhere to the principles in the Canada Health Act. If the Conservative government is unable to maintain a formula that enables the provinces and territories to pay for universal access to quality care, it should let us take over. We on this side of the House will listen and sit down with the provinces to come up with solutions that fit.

The NDP has a plan to strengthen our health system because we all deserve access to quality care no matter where we live. In 2013, I introduced Bill C-523, which called for the mandatory reporting of drug shortages. The Conservative government voted against that bill, then last February, it announced that it would require drug companies to report drug shortages in advance.

I was delighted that the government had finally seen the light on such an important issue. However, I was very disappointed to find no sign of the announcement about drug shortages in the budget. There is nothing about that in the budget, and certainly no investment. Simply put, the government is dishonest. It makes big announcements, but that is all it knows how to do. There comes a time when you have to stop making promises and get out the chequebook.

Let us talk about infrastructure. Freight trains and oil cars go through Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert. The hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie and I have talked to our constituents, who have all said that they are very concerned about the lack of investment in rail safety. The Minister of Transport promised that the government would invest in enhancing safety, but where is that investment in budget 2015? Where are the promises of tangible measures to ensure the safe transportation of hazardous materials? Where is the increase in the number of inspectors? Unfortunately, I do not see any of that.

Nor is there anything about the Champlain Bridge. There are no details as to the cost of the toll or how this toll will affect the other bridges. We gathered more than 1,000 signatures in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert alone from people denouncing this arbitrary measure. That is more than 1,000 locals who have spoken out against this toll, and thousands more if we include the south shore, but the government does not seem to think that what they have to say matters. My colleagues from the south shore and I are going to have to explain to our constituents why they are not important enough for the government to listen to them.

Let us talk about public transit. The government boasts about having good ideas in its budget to address public transit. The Conservatives' proposed measures for public transit are limited, and the provisions are so complicated that they will prevent funding from getting to the municipalities. The budget is out of step with what the south shore mayors want. They say that improving public transit, the light rail system, and extending the metro to Longueuil are priorities for the local economy and the shift toward sustainable development. What is more, the money for public transit will not be available for another two years, provided there is a contribution from the private sector.

Canadians expect budgets to address their priorities. They expect budgets to provide their children with the best possible start in life and create good jobs. The Conservative government is walking on thin ice. It is Quebeckers and middle-class workers who are paying the price.

Two words come to mind when I read the budget: “dishonesty” and “improvisation”.

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is with conviction and determination to move forward with the matter of security in non-designated airports that I rise to speak today. This motion is designed to provide a solution for the many airports that currently wish to obtain CATSA security checks. The proposed mechanism would be useful for all airports in Canada that are not designated.

I would like to draw the attention of the House to a few figures. In 2004, only two airports received authorization. Since 2004, about 10 airports have had their application for designation denied by Transport Canada. The refusals were not even explained. The government decides to refuse to add airports, without even saying why. Like all the decisions this government makes, these refusals make no sense and once again reflect the incompetence of its administration.

It is nevertheless possible for everyone to understand the opportunity that designated airports represent for our communities. Airports are important economic vectors for our communities. We have the responsibility to support them.

At a time when economic growth is slowing and vulnerability is on the rise, the driving force of an airport leads to direct job creation and stimulates trade and tourism. The economic spinoffs for local businesses and enterprises are sure to be beneficial.

We are well aware that the Conservatives have neglected the development of our communities, and scarcely care about our enterprises. Look at the 2015 budget. Since 2006, the Conservative government has cut taxes on big corporations by over 25%, reducing their tax rate from 22% to 15%. Meanwhile, the government reduced taxes on small business from 11% to 9%, at a rate of 0.5% a year, but only as of 2016. In addition to not caring about small business, the government thumbs its nose at it. The NDP wants practical and effective measures. Promises that will not take effect until 2016 have no place in the 2015 budget.

I do not know what members on the other side do, but I have met with my constituents, spoken to them and listened to them. They have told me that they are no longer getting by. Canadians are tired of the government not listening to them. They want results now.

The Conservatives are out of touch with the daily reality of Canadians. Their only concern is the good health of big corporations and big airports, which obviously contribute more to our economy. Nevertheless, local and regional airports constitute a heritage that is just as important, and they also contribute to the enhancement and development of our regions.

I also learned today that Pascan, a carrier based in Saint-Hubert, will be cutting 240 of its existing 340 jobs. Without government support, regional air transport is no longer cost effective, which leads to layoffs like these. We are witnessing a desertification of our provinces. Travellers will no longer be able to make return journeys between our cities on the same day.

That is an additional problem affecting our communities.

I would like to come back to the issue of the desertification of our regions. My constituents write to me every day to ask for improvements in public transit. There is a real lack of infrastructure, and getting from Saint-Bruno to Saint-Hubert is like an obstacle course for the average citizen. However, what is the Conservative government’s answer to these requests? It comes up with measures that have no real scope, and with provisions that are so complicated that they prevent the funding from reaching the municipalities. Investing in infrastructure is vital for our local economy. If the government does not understand that, it should let us take over.

In conclusion, I will say that the NDP is proud of this motion, and it supports the initiatives by these airports that would make it possible to improve security and support the regional economy, and thus the economy of the whole country.

In the globalized world we live in today, increased personal mobility is indispensable. The need for rapid travel is a real one.

The government cannot restrict people’s freedom of movement and the economic development of airports without offering valid reasons. That is why we will continue to defend the application of this motion so that the Conservative government commits to supporting the regions and we can finally move from words to actions.

The Budget April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the question our colleague asked. Once again, here is a budget that unfortunately is an election budget. None of the measures in this budget will apply until the 2015-16 fiscal year. What are they doing in the 2014-15 budget?

Can my colleague explain why all these measures take effect after the budget, yet income splitting takes effect this year?

If this is not an election budget, and a hastily devised one, what kind of budget is it?

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

As we said, every program requires money and human resources. However, this government is not using common sense.

The only way to address the problem of recidivism is to treat drug addictions. In the past, this involved methadone treatment, but now it involves opiate substitute treatment. Unfortunately, not all inmates have access to treatment and here again there are waiting lists. Some people serve their sentence and leave prison with the same problems they had when they arrived or worse. With the Conservatives' zero tolerance policy, people leave prison more hardened and will likely victimize more people. The government's policy does not work.

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her relevant question.

As I mentioned, what this Conservative government is doing is cutting funding in a system that is already struggling. Consider what the the CSC Commissioner said at the time of the coroner's inquest into the death of Ashley Smith. He said that his organization did not have the resources needed in that regard. The Correctional Investigator's report on women who self-harm or commit suicide stated that Correctional Service Canada remains ill-equipped to manage offenders who chronically injure themselves.

That is why we in the NDP believe that there has to be a greater focus on drug treatment programs, education and the reintegration of people who are victims of their drug addictions. We know that most people who are in prison, up to two-thirds of the prison population, suffer from mental illness, which is why substance abuse treatment is needed.

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we are debating at third reading Bill C-12, which adds a provision to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act enabling the Correctional Service of Canada to eliminate drugs from prisons. I must say that this is quite ambitious given that we know that there is not one correctional service in the world that has been able to do this.

This title, which again is reminiscent of a newspaper headline, does not reflect the content of this bill, which actually makes an amendment that is very narrow in scope to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

This amendment makes it clear in law that the Parole Board of Canada may use the positive results from drug tests or refusals to take drug tests in making its decision on parole eligibility. Note that the board already does this.

The amendment also makes clear that the Parole Board can impose conditions on the use of drugs or alcohol, once again a practice that is already in place.

In the case of a positive drug test when an individual is on parole, the discretion remains where it should be, with the Parole Board of Canada.

That is why we support the bill. The Parole Board of Canada is independent and is in the best position to judge individual cases and determine the consequences when someone fails a drug test or violates the conditions of parole.

Let us talk a little about the Conservative government's approach and its zero-tolerance approach to drugs. The Conservative government has dedicated a lot of time and resources to eliminating drugs in prison, with little success.

Correctional Service Canada has admitted that the $122 million spent on tools and technologies to eradicate drugs in prisons has not led to any reduction in drug use in our prisons.

According to a 2012 Public Safety study, we know that drug-free prisons are unlikely to be achieved in the real world, yet the Conservative government continues to pander to their base, as always, by investing money with the aim of achieving this unrealistic goal.

The Conservative government's faulty approach to public safety has resulted in more prisoners with addictions and mental illness in our prison system.

The NDP has been steadfast in our support for measures that will make our prisons safe, while the Conservative government has ignored—yes, you heard me correctly, ignored—recommendations from corrections staff, corrections unions and the Correctional Investigator that would decrease violence, gang activity and drug use in our prisons. The government has not only ignored these recommendations but it has also made budget cuts.

In 2012, the government announced that it planned to cut the budget of Correctional Service Canada by $295 million by 2015, and that is what it did. The budget for Correctional Service Canada was cut by over 10%, while during that same period, the prison population grew from 14,000 to 15,000 inmates.

The consequences of these cuts include more double-bunking and the closure of treatment centres for inmates with serious mental problems. This has resulted in increased violence. The Conservative government has also failed to address the growing problem of inmates with addictions and mental illness.

In 2011, 45% of male offenders and 69% of female offenders received a mental health care intervention. Despite this staggering data, the Conservative government still has not asked for a report from Correctional Service Canada, or CSC, on the implementation of recommendations to improve handling of prisoners with mental illness.

Rather than focusing its efforts on a narrow bill, the government needs to invest in rehabilitation programs to limit violence and the use of drugs in our prisons. Our priority should be a corrections system that can deliver effective rehabilitation programs, such as continuing education, addiction treatment and support programs to assist in reintegration. That is the only way to reduce recidivism rates and effectively tackle the issue of repeat offenders.

To truly address the issue of drug use in prison, CSC must have a proper intake assessment of an inmate’s addiction and then provide the proper correctional programming for that offender. Our priority must be to keep communities safe by preparing ex-inmates for reintegration into society once freed from their addiction and thus less likely to reoffend. Without addiction treatment and proper reintegration upon release, a prisoner will likely return to a criminal lifestyle and possible create more victims.

Before I conclude, I would like to say that committee work is not just for kicks. Our mandate is to examine, analyze and legislate to improve our society. I think that the Conservative government is being disingenuous by introducing a bill that does not take into account witnesses' recommendations even though they are the people on the ground. Several witnesses have said that Bill C-12 will not do what the short title says, so the Conservative government should show some common sense and stop its electoral propaganda.

The NDP is the party that listens to constituents, experts and the people on the ground. This bill, like so many of the Conservative government's bills, ignores the real needs on the ground.