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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

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act February 7th, 2012

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

It is common sense. If we do not have a gun registry, we will not know who owns a gun. If we do not know that, imagine the repercussions for the safety of Quebeckers and Canadians.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act February 7th, 2012

Madam Speaker, could the hon. member repeat the last part of her question?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act February 7th, 2012

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

Under clause 29, all of the data must be destroyed. Chiefs of police and some provinces, particularly Quebec, have already indicated that they want to preserve the data for public safety. The answer was no; the data could not be transferred to them. Yet we all know how costly it was to create the firearms registry and to gather all that information.

Personally, I think eliminating the firearms registry is unthinkable when we know the repercussions this could have on public safety, specifically in Quebec and throughout Canada.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act February 7th, 2012

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for her very pertinent question.

Today we are discussing the firearms registry. As I said in my speech, statistics show that firearms are often used in domestic violence. I would also remind the member opposite that for several years now, the NDP has been saying that we need to find ways to resolve the problems associated with the registry, while strengthening laws to help control the possession of firearms.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act February 7th, 2012

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by saying how disappointed I am that the government has introduced this bill. During the previous Parliament, my colleague from Timmins—James Bay introduced a bill laying out a responsible approach to ensuring public safety while taking into account the needs and grievances of gun owners. I am disappointed in the government's position, but I am not surprised.

Personally, I support the gun registry. There is no doubt in my mind that the registry is an important tool to ensure public safety in Quebec and in Canada. How can the government say that it wants to make our streets safer? Of course I want safer streets, but I have to tell it like it is. This government has ignored all of the available data and analyses, choosing instead to give us Bill C-10 and Bill C-19. The people of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert and I feel that this government is not walking the walk.

Many organizations have condemned this bill, among them the Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec, the Quebec association of emergency physicians, the Canadian Labour Congress and the YWCA. These organizations have said that the registry is useful.

Why is this government not heeding its own Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Ms. O'Sullivan, who has said that Canada must do all it can to prevent further tragedies from happening, including using the tools we have to help keep communities safe, like the long-gun registry?

From the beginning of the session, this government has tried to convince us that it cares about the victims of crime. Students at Dawson College spoke to me about this issue at a meeting on post-secondary education. The chairperson of the Dawson student union, Audrey Deveault, said that the harm caused by firearms is a problem for our country and that weakening long gun control would not help solve the problem. But why listen to them? Dawson College students asked to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the firearms registry, but he did not even have the courtesy to respond.

The Association des étudiants de Polytechnique has also spoken out loud and clear against this bill, as has the Association québécoise plaidoyer-victimes, which stated in its press release that saving money is a false argument. It said:

Citing the cost of the registry as a reason for undermining some of its elements is not one of the soundest possible arguments. In fact, the Polytechnique, Concordia and Dawson shootings are tragic reminders of the cost of gun violence.

I would also like to call the attention of this House to the opinion of Quebec's Association of Families of Persons Assassinated or Disappeared. Ms. Elizabeth Pousoulidis, president of the association, said that controlling and registering firearms were important measures to protect safety and quality of life in our communities and to minimize the number of victims wounded or slain. That is one more voice speaking out against this bill. The government may not have expected this from an organization founded by one of its senators.

The registry has had many positive outcomes. I have been involved in women's causes for a long time. I was affected by the École Polytechnique massacre, which spurred many to call for the creation of the registry. But we should not forget about domestic violence. According to the Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, 71% of spousal homicides are committed with a rifle or shotgun. These types of guns are governed by this bill.

The YWCA estimates that violence against women costs Canadians approximately $4 billion annually.

Over 100,000 women and children are forced to leave their homes because of violence and abuse. The CEO of the YWCA, Paulette Senior, made a very important point that I would like to share with the House. She said, “Long guns and rifles are used to intimidate women and the threat of a rifle is often a significant reason that women don’t risk leaving to seek help.”

That is why the Fédération des femmes du Québec, the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale and the Fédération de ressources d'hébergement pour femmes violentées et en difficulté du Québec have decided to speak out in favour of maintaining the firearms registry. They work in the field of violence against women and they see the effects of firearms and the registry. It is important to note that the rate of homicides involving rifles or shotguns has decreased by 70% since the registry was created.

As a member from Quebec, I call upon this government to grant the request of the Government of Quebec and Quebeckers. We must save the firearms registry or, in the worst case scenario, we must save the data. We must.

I would like to close by citing a letter that I received from Dr. Jocelyne Sauvé, the director of public health in the Montérégie region. She makes arguments that represent the principles I uphold as a physician.

...I would like to share with you my concerns about public health should this bill be passed.

In Canada, firearms are the cause of approximately 800 deaths per year, mainly suicides committed in private residences with non-restricted firearms such as shotguns or rifles. A number of studies have shown that a home where there are firearms is five times more likely to be the scene of a suicide and three times more likely to be the scene of a homicide or a firearm-related accident than a home without a gun. Contrary to popular belief, most gun deaths are caused by people who do not have a criminal record. For these people, who often have personal, marital or mental health problems, access to firearms is a significant risk factor for such action. As a result, controlling access to firearms is a key prevention measure for vulnerable individuals.

...The combined effects [of the firearms registry] have resulted in a reduction in the number of weapons that are improperly stored, lost or illegally owned. It also makes firearms less accessible to individuals who are vulnerable or in a state of crisis, without preventing owners from using them for ordinary, legitimate, purposes such as hunting or sports shooting.

In addition, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec recently stated that the Firearms Act had saved 300 lives a year between 1998 and 2004. I am therefore asking members of the House to consider the points that I have just mentioned, as well as those set out in our brief, and oppose this bill.

Food and Drugs Act January 31st, 2012

Madam Speaker, I would first like to congratulate the member for Sarnia—Lambton on her bill. I thank her for her tenacity on this issue, which seems to be very important to her. She has persevered for several years now, in an effort to protect cosmetic contact lens consumers.

I have to admit that my first reaction, when I read the title of the bill, was not entirely positive. I read the title and thought it was a joke. When I did a little research, I realized that this was a health issue that had to be addressed. I was stunned to learn that we are only at this stage. Health Canada issued a warning in 2000 recommending that cosmetic contact lenses be used only under the supervision of an eye care professional. Health Canada also recommended in 2003 that the government regulate cosmetic contact lenses, meaning that it has already been 12 years since the first warning.

The risks to Canadians’ health are known and have been demonstrated by the research. A number of potential dangers are associated with misuse of cosmetic contact lenses without specialist supervision. Some were listed by other members who spoke to the bill earlier, but I am nevertheless going to quickly list a few of them.

The rate of lesions and complications, such as infection, inflammation or ulceration, is much higher among cosmetic contact lens users than among people who use prescription contact lenses. Lenses that are poorly fitted to the eye can affect vision and cause damage. The lenses can cause serious injury to the eye for people who wear them, such as allergic reaction, bacterial infection, inflammation of the cornea, and scratching or even ulceration of the cornea. Some of these lesions occur in less than 24 hours. They can be very difficult to treat, and in some cases they can be permanent.

These consequences could easily be avoided if the product were regulated.

I am aware that this is not the first attempt in this House to find a solution to this regulatory vacuum. I have seen the history: a motion was made in 2008 by the member for Sarnia—Lambton and was unanimously adopted by the House.

I hope this government will be more diplomatic in negotiating a complete regulatory framework with the provinces and territories if this bill is passed. I am not prepared to call the government’s negotiations in the health transfers case a success.

It is high time that a bill like this was passed.

I think my colleagues will have understood that I support this bill. I will nevertheless take advantage of the platform given to me by the residents of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert in order to have their voices heard. Health is a priority for them, as it is for all of us.

I remind the House that several health advocacy groups are calling for tougher regulations on the sale of energy drinks. The evidence is clear and this government is refusing to take action, opting instead to ignore its expert panel on the issue.

This government has also refused to listen to experts who called for tougher regulations regarding sodium in food.

These are measures that can be taken today to improve the health and quality of life of Canadians. This government's current approach, which is to allow industry to self-regulate before the government steps in, does not work.

I would like to know how the contact lens industry has self-regulated. I think that we have the answer to this given that we have a bill before us that will force the industry to act.

There are many examples I could give to demonstrate that this government must pay more attention to health. There needs to be a comprehensive and complete plan that starts by mitigating risks, wherever possible, particularly through bills like this one, but also with tougher legislation to control sodium in food.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation estimates that an 1,800 mg reduction in the daily consumption of sodium would help to avoid approximately 23,500 events tied to cardiovascular diseases per year, which amounts to a drop of 13%. The economic consequences for health care would amount to approximately $3 billion a year. This is a logical, simple and responsible way of controlling health care costs. I hope that the Minister of Finance is listening. It is time to listen to the experts.

Although I acknowledge that this bill deals with a real problem, I would nevertheless have preferred that the government find a way of addressing the problem well before today. The reaction of a lot of people when I tell them about this bill is similar to mine: do they not have more urgent matters to address? Once again, I recognize that action needs to be taken. But had the current and previous governments taken action over the past 12 years, after the investments made by experts and Health Canada, we could be, at this very moment, talking about pensions, the future of the health care system or even job creation.

I hope that I am mistaken, but I am afraid that history will repeat itself and that this House will be discussing energy drinks, sodium in food, and sugary drinks in 10 years time, when the issue could be addressed now. I hope that the past 10 years’ inaction does not end up damaging Canadians too much.

Status of Women December 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago today, a woman was elected to the National Assembly of Quebec for the first time. On December 14, 1961, Marie-Claire Kirkland-Casgrain was elected to represent the riding of Jacques-Cartier.

This event helped change many things for women in Quebec. Ms. Kirkland-Casgrain, who became a cabinet minister, was instrumental in the passage of bill 16, which put an end to the legal incapacity of married women in the Civil Code.

Since 1961, 104 women have been elected to the National Assembly and 40 of them have gone on to become cabinet ministers.

This anniversary reminds us that we have come a long way in terms of the representation of women in various aspects of society. Nonetheless, women are still under-represented in politics at the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

On this anniversary, let us take a moment to thank pioneers like Ms. Kirkland-Casgrain and reflect on ways to achieve better representation of women in this House.

Canada Labour Code December 13th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I have no qualms whatsoever about supporting the bill introduced by my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. Moreover, I would like to thank him for rising in this House to speak about the rights of pregnant and nursing women. This bill is particularly important to me. Women and their cause have always been at the heart of my social, community and political outreach work.

Women are increasingly present in the workforce. Since the early 20th century, the presence of women has been consistently on the rise. In 1901, women accounted for 13% of the labour force and by 1951 this rate had jumped to 23%. Women in the workforce were predominantly single in the past. This is evidenced by the fact that in 1951 the Canadian labour force comprised only 11% of married women whereas by 1994 the rate had jumped to 57%.

This is no longer the case however. The labour market has changed. The role of women has also changed. There were very few women in this House 20 years ago. The first woman elected was Agnes Macphail in 1921. There were four women in the House of Commons in the 21st Parliament. The threshold of 20% female representation was only reached in 1997.

Today, there are 76 women in this House, including 40 in the official opposition. This is an unprecedented number in the history of Canada. Many of us are doctors, teachers, lawyers, and the list goes on. We have completed graduate studies. One only has to look at the composition of this House to see how the role of women has evolved. It would be very hypocritical and most unrealistic to infer that women in the labour force face the same challenges as their male counterparts.

The number one challenge is, obviously, wages. The fight for pay equity in this country is not over. Only a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court handed down its opinion on a dispute that had lasted for over 28 years between Canada Post and the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Another challenge women face in the labour market has to do with maternity. We now finally have a maternity leave program. It is not perfect, but it is a lot better than it used to be. But that is not the only challenge. Women who go on maternity leave can still end up getting transferred or missing out on promotions due to their absences. That is far from ideal. Women still have to qualify, under the federal program, for employment insurance, which is not the case for everybody, like for self employed women for instance. There are also part-time employees, a group where women are overrepresented. I find that the Quebec parental insurance plan, a more generous plan than its federal equivalent, is better geared towards women, but that is not the crux of my speech today.

Among the other issues tied to maternity is preventative withdrawal. Given the nature of the work some women do, and because of complications, some women who fall pregnant are unable to work. These women cannot, for health issues and the safety of their child, continue to work.

In Quebec, provincially regulated women employees have access to the CSST if their employer cannot find tasks that will not endanger them or their child. For women working in companies that are federally regulated, it is a nightmare. They are permitted to take leave until they see their doctor. However, once the doctor has certified that they can no longer carry out their duties, their employer is under the obligation to transfer them to other duties. This, however, is not always possible.

Then they have two options. The first one is to continue to work despite all the risks and dangers involved. That choice may put both mother and child at risk and create complications during pregnancy. However, it ensures financial security. The second option is to take a leave without pay, which deprives the mother and her child of a much needed income. Women are more at risk of living in poverty. They are more likely to hold precarious and part-time jobs. There are also more single moms. Let us also not forget that there are more poor women than poor men. These women are already in a difficult financial situation, and sudden changes in their income can get them caught in the vicious cycle of poverty and indebtedness.

It is inconceivable that a woman should have to choose between financial survival or her health and safety. It is an abomination and a disgrace. We know that pregnant women are under a huge financial stress. They must find furniture and diapers for their baby. Sometimes, they must find a larger place to live. Pregnancy is also the time when women must be most careful with their diet. It is very difficult to make healthy choices and to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, when one can only afford Kraft Dinner. The mother's diet can have long term effects on a child's health. Pregnancy is not the time to be stingy and to deprive women of financial resources.

This bill will help close to 75,000 women in Quebec benefit from CSST's protection. We are talking about 75,000 women who will not have to choose between their health and safety or their financial security. These women will be able to focus on eating well and on preparing for the arrival of their child. Should other provinces decide to follow Quebec's example and provide protection through their provincial occupational health and safety agency, this bill will protect an even larger number of women.

The government should accept this legislation, which only restores equality between women and men across Canada. I urge all hon. members to support this bill. It is a matter of justice, of equality and of public health.

Sister Gisèle Foucreault December 13th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, today I wish to acknowledge the work of Sister Gisèle Foucreault, a nun with roots in Saint-Bruno.

Sister Gisèle entered the order in 1957 and has been a missionary in Lesotho since 1963. She has been involved in dozens of projects that have helped improve everyday life for hundreds of people. From improving access to drinking water and housing, to working on building local infrastructure such as schools, libraries, bakeries and farmers' co-operatives, Sister Gisèle has made life better for hundreds of families.

Sister Gisèle's work has also made the youth in Saint-Bruno more aware of the needs and reality of young people elsewhere in the world through their involvement in the Minta Saint-Bruno organization.

Congratulations to Sister Gisèle on her involvement and her work and thank you to Minta Saint-Bruno and the youth of Saint-Bruno for their contributions.

International Trade December 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, once again, the government is negotiating an agreement that would be very detrimental to Canadians.

If free trade talks with the European Union go ahead and Canada agrees to extend patent protection for prescription drugs by three years, the price of medications could go up by nearly $3 billion.

The health care system is already struggling and families are having a hard time making ends meet.

When will this government understand that it needs to lower prices and not raise them?