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

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act May 4th, 2012

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech, which I listened to closely. I heard him talk about jobs, but he did not talk about health, safety or food, all of which are in the massive budget before us today.

What does he have to say about what is going on? We know that 308 Canadian Food Inspection Agency workers will be laid off because of budget cuts. We also know that veterinarians responsible for inspecting and certifying animals, as well as analysts and agricultural officers, will lose their jobs. What does he have to say about that? And what does he have to say about jobs and keeping Canadians safe?

Government Priorities April 30th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, families of gravely ill children need help right now, not a photo op with the Prime Minister.

The Conservatives made a commitment to help families with gravely ill children during the last election campaign, as well as families of missing and murdered children, but in the recent budget they have not kept their promise.

Why are the Conservatives going back on their promise and washing their hands of sick children and their families?

Food and Drugs Act April 4th, 2012

Madam Speaker, this is not the first time I have had an opportunity to speak to this bill. I spoke at second reading and when it was referred to the Standing Committee on Health. As far as I know, every party in the House supports this bill.

Non-corrective contact lenses, as they are now known following amendments to the bill in committee, are used to change the eyes' colour or appearance. Over the past few years, the market for these contact lenses has grown considerably. There is no real difference between corrective lenses and cosmetic lenses in terms of how they interact with the eye.

Even though they present the same health risks, non-corrective contact lenses are not yet classified as devices under the Food and Drugs Act, nor are they regulated by Health Canada. There is plenty of evidence about the risks associated with using non-corrective contact lenses without professional supervision.

Problems occur when the contacts are not adapted to the specific needs of the buyer, when they are the wrong size and do not fit the eye properly, when the contacts are of questionable quality, or when they come from a truly unknown supplier. Problems often occur when consumers are not given the appropriate information and instructions on how to use the contacts properly and safely, for example, how to put them in, how to take them out and how to clean them.

Health Canada has warned the public and the government of the potential risks associated with non-corrective contact lenses. According to a 2003 Health Canada report, the rate of serious injury among people using corrective contact lenses every day is approximately 1% and the overall rate of complication is about 10%.

It is estimated that the rate of injury and complication—for example, infection, inflammation or ulceration—is much higher among non-corrective contact lens users than among those who use corrective lenses. In 2007, vision loss accounted for the Canadian health care system's highest direct cost, as compared to any other illness.

What is more, 75% of the cases of vision loss can be prevented. Bill C-313 seeks to amend the Food and Drugs Act to deem a non-corrective contact lens to be a device. This amendment would require all non-corrective contact lenses sold in Canada to be licensed by Health Canada and would require the product distributors to have a medical instrument sales licence.

As I said at the previous reading, I am surprised and disappointed that we are still talking about such a bill in 2012. In 2000, Health Canada issued a warning about non-corrective contact lenses and recommended that they be used only under the supervision of an eye care professional.

In 2003, Health Canada recommended that the federal government regulate the use of non-corrective contact lenses, but, 12 years later, the matter is still not resolved. Nevertheless, I want to express my appreciation to the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton for her bill and her perseverance.

I know that she has been working on this particular file since at least 2008, when she moved a motion that was adopted by the House of Commons. However, we are currently discussing the budget, and I hope it will be discussed for some time, even though it may not be in this House.

Budget cuts will affect Canadian families. They are talking about the cuts and will continue to do so. When I see measures such as these, which are essential, I wonder if they will have any real impact given the 2012 budget.

Regulatory measures such as this bill cannot be effective without some oversight. When I see the budget cuts made by this government, including those to Health Canada, I doubt that the department will be able to do the necessary follow-up with the manufacturers.

How can we protect public health and safety with minimal and limited monitoring?

I know that the government will say that Canadians' safety will not be compromised. However, I am not absolutely convinced of that. I do not have to look too far to realize why. I only have to read the Auditor General's report on the F-35 jets and compare his comments with the statements made by this government's members in this House.

Speaking of the Auditor General, I would like to point out that, yesterday, he blamed this government for the Canada Border Services Agency's performance. He said, and I quote:

In the small percentage of cases where goods that did not meet import requirements were allowed to enter the country, most were products for which there was no agreement in place between Health Canada and the CBSA. While the CBSA has formal arrangements with the three other organizations in our audit, as yet it has no formal agreement with Health Canada that documents respective roles, responsibilities, policies, and procedures for implementing controls on several products under Health Canada’s responsibility, such as medical devices [including the one we are talking about today] and pest control products. Until there is a formal agreement, border services officers do not have consistent instructions on procedures to follow for those products.

Non-corrective contact lenses are often ordered via the Internet. I hope that this government takes the Auditor General's recommendations in this regard seriously and gives the Canada Border Services Agency and Health Canada the means to protect the health and safety of Canadians. If not, this bill will serve no useful purpose.

Food and Drugs Act April 4th, 2012

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating the member opposite on her bill. As she knows, I supported this bill when it was referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

For years, the Conservative government failed to show leadership on a number of important health issues, including eyesight protection.

Why is this regulatory amendment being put forward as a private member's bill rather than a government bill? When will the government take health protection issues seriously?

Points of Order March 27th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to the comments made by the hon. Minister of Transport and member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. During question period, he was rather condescending to my colleague, the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, referring to her as “that member there”. I understand that the hon. member is in hot water, but he still owes his female colleagues some respect, even if he does not share their ideology.

I am asking that he apologize to the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act March 26th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that relevant question. I have here a document I got from the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. I would like to read what it says about the bill:

Bill C-31 gives the Minister broad and vague powers over the lives of refugees. The Minister says he will exercise those powers prudently and fairly. But the Bill also minimizes the Minister’s accountability for how he uses those powers. The Bill contains few remedies if there is an abuse of power by the Minister or his agents.

The minister tells us to trust him but that is not good enough in democracy.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act March 26th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. Clearly, this bill will cost taxpayers quite a lot of money. Yet we have a very valid system, and there are many regulations to prevent bogus refugees from entering the country, as the members across the way claim.

Certainly, this bill will impose one year of arbitrary detention without habeas corpus. Parents will be separated from their children. Spouses will be separated for years, and some people will see their permanent resident status revoked when it is deemed that they can safely return to their country of origin.

I have no answer for my colleague. She should instead ask the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism why he is again turning his back on Canadians.

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act March 26th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, although I was not an MP in the previous Parliament, I know that this bill is the logical successor to Bill C-11, which was passed in the 40th parliament. I know enough about this file to say that the bill was negotiated by all parties, including the NDP.

A number of my colleagues, such as the member for Trinity—Spadina, worked very hard to ensure that the bill—which contained some of the measures included in this new bill—would be acceptable to everyone and would bring people together.

What I find fascinating is that none of the negotiated measures are found in this bill, even though they were quite acceptable to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, the member for Calgary Southeast, who said:

However, many concerns were raised in good faith by parliamentarians and others concerned about Canada's asylum system. We have, in good faith, agreed to significant amendments that reflect their input, resulting in a stronger piece of legislation that is a monumental achievement for all involved.

Am I dreaming? What has become of the “stronger piece of legislation” that the Minister spoke about? But more importantly, what has become of the good faith?

This bill is the latest manifestation of a new Conservative tradition. Ever since I have been in the House, the Conservatives have gone about things the same way. With every bill, we get the same performance. The government proposes measures and refuses to listen to anyone who does not like them or who suggests changes, as though it were sacrilegious to consider any bill to be less than perfect as of the first reading.

That kind of attitude is deplorable. It is bad for our country and for Canadians because, instead of coming up with the best possible solution for them, we have to settle for things like this.

There are ideological differences between the NDP and the government. That much is clear. The government needs to talk about something other than its “strong mandate”. The fact is that most Canadians did not choose the Conservatives. Not even a majority of voters chose them.

This government has to open its eyes and start working with the opposition parties to improve bills in ways that will benefit Canadians.

Many groups oppose this particular bill. Among those expressing their opposition are groups that the members opposite would call friends of criminals: the Barreau du Québec, the Canadian Bar Association, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. However, these groups speak with considerable authority, and I trust their opinions.

All of these groups raised the following points. First, the minister's discretionary power to designate so-called safe countries is too great. This is not about whether I trust the current minister or not. I would rather leave him in the dark about that. This is about knowing who decides which countries are on the list and about considering how the minister—the current one or his successors—will be subject to economic and diplomatic pressure to that end.

Second, a two-tier refugee system is also a problem. Some will have rights, and others will be assumed to be abusing the system. There will be no consideration for personal history.

What also bothers me about this bill are the potential violations of the international convention. I am sure my colleagues across the floor also received the letter from Human Rights Watch. I urge those who have not yet read it to do so.

The letter raises four points that the organization is really concerned about. First of all, the year-long mandatory detention of asylum seekers violates the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, specifically article 31, which prohibits imposing penalties on refugees simply because they had to enter a country without authorization.

Second, the five-year ban on applying for permanent resident status violates article 34 of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Under that article, states must, as far as possible, facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees. Human Rights Watch is also concerned about the right of separated refugee families to reunite, since obtaining permanent resident status usually takes at least six or seven years.

Third, detaining 16 and 17-year old children violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Lastly, Human Rights Watch is concerned about the power vested in the minister to designate which countries are considered safe. In short, once again, all of this will tarnish Canada's reputation on the international stage.

Canada has a reputation as a welcoming country. I have seen this first-hand as an immigrant myself. My experience as a landed immigrant was quite different from what a refugee might experience, but I simply cannot accept that people would systematically be detained because they had to flee an untenable humanitarian situation in their own country. I refuse to let Canada become a country where refugee claimants are treated so poorly that legitimate refugees could be deported before they even have a chance to learn about their rights and the system.

I do not want my country to become a place where refugee claimants will not be considered simply because the government does not want to offend some countries with which it wants to do business. And I certainly do not want to see two classes of refugees.

I strongly oppose this bill because it is harmful to refugees—people who are already vulnerable—instead of offering them a fair, balanced system that does not attack legitimate refugees.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 26th, 2012

What is the amount of spending by the federal government in the riding of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert since fiscal year 2004-2005 to today (i) by department or agency, (ii) by program or initiative?

Air Service Operations Legislation March 13th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a comment and ask my colleague a brief question. I would like to draw the House's attention to the fact that this is the thirteenth time that this majority government has imposed special legislation since we have been in this House. As soon as employees go on strike, wham, special legislation. As soon as an employer locks them out, wham, special legislation. As soon as an employer threatens a lockout, again, wham, special legislation. What does my colleague think of the workers’ right to vote, which is recognized in Canada?