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

National Volunteer Week April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, last week was National Volunteer Week. In Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, we have hundreds of volunteers who dedicate themselves to making their fellow citizens' lives easier and more beautiful every day. Every minute they spend being involved makes our community richer and better.

This year as always, the teams running volunteer centres and meals on wheels and their volunteers travelled the streets of Saint-Bruno and Saint-Hubert to provide hot meals and help with organizations. They also helped people prepare their tax returns. They accompanied people to the hospital and did so many other little things that mean so much to our community.

On behalf of all of the people of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, I would like to thank them.

I urge all of my colleagues here in the House to honour the work of the volunteers active in our communities.

Committees of the House April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the New Democrats believe that action is needed in order to ensure the economic security of Canadian women. Unfortunately, a number of witnesses confirmed that gender equality in Canada is going backward, not forward, under this government.

We heard from witnesses who explained what it would take to achieve economic equality. We need to invest in women, tackle poverty and violence, and provide essential services, such as affordable and accessible child care, safe housing and good jobs—not part-time, minimum-wage jobs. That is what the Leader of the Opposition has planned to foster women's economic prosperity.

I am proud to have taken part in the study and proud of the dissenting report presented by the NDP members of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women in that regard.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act March 31st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question. As I said in my speech, we also have to look at aging infrastructure and companies' responsibility when it comes to train speed.

Unfortunately, train speed is not mentioned anywhere in this bill. All it covers is money for compensation, and when we delve into the details, there is nothing there. The work is half done. It is time to implement the polluter pays principle. When we become the government, we will do a thorough job and talk about all of the factors so that we can prevent instead of cure.

In answer to my colleague, I met with people from CN, and they assured me that the DOT-111 tank cars would be outfitted with bars to make them safe. Unfortunately, the tragedy that happened in Toronto proved that they were not safe.

I hope that work on this will go on.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act March 31st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague and neighbour, the hon. member for Chambly—Borduas. Like me, he is very familiar with the region and the concerns of my constituents.

Obviously, since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, I have had the opportunity to hold public consultations with my constituents in Saint-Bruno and Saint-Hubert.

As I said in my speech, people and even the municipalities are very concerned. I also had the opportunity to sit on a committee that deals with the prevention of hazardous spills. It is true that the municipalities are very concerned about the fact that they do not know what the rail cars that are passing through such highly populated areas are carrying. People would at least like the municipalities to be informed in advance rather than a year after the fact.

I would like to thank my colleague once again for his relevant question and I hope that the government will give us some answers.

Safe and Accountable Rail Act March 31st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of my constituents in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert to speak to the very important topic of rail safety. Since the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic in July 2013, my constituents have been very concerned about the safety of our rail system, especially since they live close to railways.

On average, seven freight trains pass through Saint-Hubert every day, while about a dozen pass through Saint-Bruno. The government's bill is a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, I share my constituents' serious concerns about the methods used to ensure that rail companies comply with the new rules. I do not think we are doing enough, and I think that many more improvements are necessary. Indeed, it is laudable that we are creating a fund and increasing insurance coverage to compensate the communities and citizens affected by an accident, but I think that the amount of this fund is far too low, in light of the potential damage to the environment, our property and even the health of Canadians.

I would remind hon. members that decontaminating the area affected by the Lac-Mégantic derailment will cost more than $400 million. MMA had only $25 million in liability insurance. As hon. members can see, the gap between the amount of coverage and the repair cost is huge.

The Conservative government's bill would impose a framework, requiring railway companies to increase their liability insurance and imposing a minimum amount on them.

However, if we look at the bill in detail, we see that, once again, the Conservative government is presenting half measures. The levels of insurance set out in the bill are insufficient. The levels of insurance should be based on the public risk of transporting these products and not just on the type and volume of goods being transported. The damage caused in Lac-Mégantic is estimated at over $400 million, but the new rules do not seem to bring the smaller companies to that level.

The Lac-Mégantic incident involved a small railway company that happened to be transporting a fairly large quantity of dangerous goods at the time. However, the costs associated with the disaster are far greater than the limits set out in this bill, particularly for small companies.

It is estimated that the transportation of crude oil by rail will continue to grow significantly. It already increased by 320 times between 2009 and 2013. With this increase comes an increased risk of accidents. More than ever, we must improve oversight of infrastructure and hold railway companies accountable by imposing sanctions.

This is the second time I have spoken to a rail safety bill since the session resumed at the end of January. This is the second time that we have been faced with a highly publicized, but badly botched bill.

I would also like the government to explain how it is going to implement the measures it is proposing when it does not have the resources to do so. The number of inspectors is nowhere near enough. Transport Canada hired just one additional railway safety inspector.

The number of inspectors went from 116 in 2013 to 117 in 2015. However, they have to be able to do their work properly. The rail safety budget was cut by $5 million in 2012 and last year.

How can the Conservative government reassure Canadians that safety is a priority when transportation budgets are being cut?

As I mentioned earlier, many improvements can still be made and a number of possible solutions have been proposed by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, which I want to acknowledge for its valuable work over the past 25 years. I would like to remind members that the TSB proposals have been circulating for many years. However, none were implemented by previous governments.

It took a human tragedy for the TSB measures to finally be heard and implemented. I am thinking mainly of the retirement of the DOT-111 cars, about which I wrote to the Minister of Transport several times. The truth is that the Conservative government is feeling the impact of the rail deregulation that it voted in, and today it is trying to fix past mistakes.

The NDP cares about the safety of our communities and our citizens. When we form the government, we will ensure that the Lac-Mégantic disaster remains the exception.

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day Act March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the bill we are debating this evening would establish a national spinal cord injury awareness day. I support this bill and I encourage all of my colleagues to support it, since people with spinal cord injuries face daily challenges, and the public needs to be made aware of that.

We need to increase awareness of what these individuals go through. They face many problems in dealing with their disability. It is not just a matter of highlighting the dangers of high-risk activities, as is often the case in awareness campaigns. We also need more awareness about the needs people with spinal cord injuries have and the obstacles and challenges they face.

A spinal cord injury cuts communication between the brain and the body and leads to full or partial paralysis of the limbs and torso. The extent of the paralysis depends on the location of the injury on the spinal column and its severity. A low injury causes paraplegia, which refers to paralysis of the lower limbs, while a high injury would cause quadriplegia, paralysis of all four limbs.

Given that the spinal cord controls the functioning of the lower and upper limbs, people with spinal cord injuries often must use a wheelchair. The consequences of this type of paralysis lead to very costly care. The cost of traumatic spinal cord injuries is estimated at $2.7 billion a year for every newly injured person. In addition to the costs for care, the costs of reorganizing one's daily life need to be factored in. When you are in a wheelchair, you need to reorganize your home or space to have access to everything without too much difficulty. That is very expensive.

Awareness days are a useful tool to educate people and raise funds. We must not overlook that.

Making the third Friday of September national spinal cord injury awareness day will help the cause of organizations that run campaigns across the country to raise funds for research, care and financial support for victims. Even a small contribution from the general public would make it possible to change the lives of those affected by spinal cord injuries, their loved ones and their families as well.

In 2013, about 86,000 people and their families were affected by spinal cord injuries in Canada, and some 4,300 new cases are added each year.

Investments in the health care system are necessary. The government must show leadership and must not abandon the provinces. This bill reminds us just how much we need investments in our health care system. An awareness day makes it possible to highlight the needs of people with disabilities in terms of both health care and resources. We need to be able to count on a federal government that is willing to work with the provinces and territories and make long-term investments to ensure that our public health care system meets the needs of all Canadians.

Health care is a priority for all Canadians, and it should be a priority for their government too. However, the Conservatives are undermining our cherished public health care system.

They have unilaterally imposed cuts of $36 billion in transfer payments to the provinces for the next 10 years. These cuts are undermining our health care system. Currently, Canadians are not receiving health care in a timely fashion when they need it. Our seniors, for example, are receiving inadequate levels of health care. Most federal government expenditures are dropping alarmingly at the very time when the population of Canada is aging. As a result, the provinces and the territories are inheriting a huge financial burden.

Concretely, we are seeing medical clinics close their doors. In my constituency of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, three clinics have closed already and a fourth will do so in 2015. This is unacceptable. The government must adhere to the principles of the Canada Health Act.

If the Conservative government is not capable of maintaining a funding formula that will allow the provinces and territories to fund universal access to quality services, it should step aside and let us do it. We on this side of the House will listen; we will sit down with the provinces and territories in order to find appropriate solutions. The NDP has a plan to strengthen our health care system because we all deserve to have access to care, regardless of where we live.

In fact, the NDP will fill the gaps that the Conservatives are leaving in health, especially the health of those with disabilities. The Conservatives have had five years in which to come to grips with the problem of the real poverty that many people with disabilities are experiencing. They have done nothing to improve the workplace accommodation measures for persons with disabilities who are trying to be part of the workforce. The caregiver tax credit is of no use to many people with disabilities, since they do not even have a taxable income. It does not even apply to the spouses who care for their disabled partners. As we can see, much remains to be done to help those living with disabilities in our country.

In conclusion, I invite all my colleagues to support designating the third Friday in September as national spinal cord injury awareness day. Let us not forget that most accidents happen in the summer and the third Friday is a busy time for spinal cord rehabilitation centres. This is the reality surrounding this bill that we should keep in mind. I hope that, for once, the Conservative government will consider it.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as I already said, Bill S-7 is yet another example of the Conservatives' tendency to present sensationalized measures that do not actually meet the intended objectives or that have negative consequences for women and children.

Why does the Conservative government insist on criminalizing parents and spouses, when women and girls have clearly indicated many times that this is not the right way of addressing these problems and it is not what they want?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering what values my colleague is talking about. I already answered that, for us, Canadian values are freedom, democracy and mutual respect.

The language used in this bill is shocking for some communities who feel targeted. When we talk about values, we need to ask why the government is targeting certain communities. Unfortunately, I get the impression that these communities feel as though they are being singled out whether it is at the provincial, federal or international level. What is more, the government is trying to criminalize people for engaging in certain practices rather than trying to prevent those practices by reaching out to those people, and trying to help them and teach them Canadian values.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

I apologize, Mr. Speaker.

I was asked, as the member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, whether I thought that there was a parallel between the charter of values that the PQ introduced in Quebec in 2013 and the comments made by the immigration minister regarding Canadian values.

I could not answer that question because I never thought we would ever find ourselves in such a situation in Canada. The government is criminalizing people rather than trying to help them integrate, talk to them and find out their motives and reasoning so that it can raise awareness and work on prevention. I was truly unable to answer that question because, unfortunately, I cannot read the immigration minister's mind.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

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

I can speak from my own experience. I come from what is known as an invisible visible minority community. However, I am visible. I am lucky to be here in the House to talk about these problems and try to stop the Conservative government from leading us down a slippery slope.

I heard from people who are very concerned about the fact that the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration was speaking about Canadian values. I was asked: “Ms. Sellah, will we be dealing with the same issue at the federal level—”