House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I just heard the minister say that there are rules in this House to ensure that members have the right to speak. He said that not every member can speak to every issue, and I understand completely. However, if the government would stop limiting debate, more members would have a chance to speak, express themselves and share their constituents' concerns with the government. The Conservatives have very few representatives in certain regions, so they have very little opportunity to find out what people in those regions are thinking. They should welcome the opportunity to hear about it in the House.

I would therefore like to know why, for the 79th time, the government is playing fast and loose with the rules of the House, rules that are there to ensure that all parliamentarians can represent their constituents properly?

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 6th, 2014

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

The proposed amendment is a response to the requests made by the political representatives in Iraq whom my colleague from Ottawa Centre and others met with. For the time being, they are asking for the means to be able to fight themselves on the ground, as I mentioned earlier. That is the type of intervention we are currently looking at.

That is what we are calling for to respond directly to the needs of the Iraqi people. If there are other requests from the Iraqi government, they can be considered in order to respond directly to their needs. We will have to deal with them when the time comes. It is hard to respond to a hypothetical situation. For the time being, we have responded to the requests made by the Iraqi government. We hope that the Canadian government will take action to ensure that the requested humanitarian assistance arrives as quickly as possible. We need to help the women and children who are suffering and the religious and ethnic minorities who have been displaced and are suffering atrocities at the hands of the Islamic State.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. I find it refreshing to hear him ask a serious and considered question and not to hear rhetoric alone. It is a nice change in the House.

His question had a number of parts. I will try to answer as best I can. The UN resolution did not mention military intervention. The UN mainly wanted countries to try to prevent their citizens from joining the Islamic State armed group. It also wanted countries to focus on humanitarian aid.

Before considering military action, the NDP would first like to focus on humanitarian aid, an area in which Canada has always had a great deal of expertise. We do not hear a lot about that from this government, even though that is what political representatives in Iraq have asked for.

My colleague from Ottawa Centre had the opportunity to visit the area, and that is what people told him. They need help providing assistance to civilians and minorities who are suffering atrocities at the hands of the Islamic State. They want to have the means to defend themselves. They know how to fight on the ground, and that is the help they asked for. They never asked Canada to send troops to fight. That is not the kind of military action the NDP is considering.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today's debate in the House is of the utmost importance, and I appreciate the opportunity to participate in it. I join my NDP colleagues in opposing the Conservative government's ill-conceived and ill-advised plan to deploy the Canadian Forces to a combat mission in Iraq.

I would like to thank my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie for her speech and for her very relevant remarks, which shed some much-needed light on the current situation in Iraq. What is more, given the member's extensive diplomatic experience, I think that the Conservative government would do well to listen to her words and consider them more carefully than it normally would.

The motion that the Prime Minister moved in the House on Friday is disappointing, to say the least. However, when we look at how the Conservative government has been managing Canada's potential participation in a mission in Iraq, we should not be surprised that it presented such a disappointing motion that contains so little information.

What is worse, the government has expressed its willingness to work with the al-Assad regime in Syria, should it ask Canada to drop bombs in that country. That goes way beyond what little discussion we have had in the House on this issue.

All the members of the opposition have tried repeatedly to get details about the first 30-day mission to Iraq, which just ended. As of today, we are still pretty much in the dark. We have very little information about our troops' mission over there. I do not know how many soldiers we sent. Was it 26 or 69? The government has been keeping us in the dark. We still do not know what those soldiers actually accomplished on the ground. We do not have any idea of the cost associated with this first deployment. We are completely in the dark. Today, the Conservatives are engaging in the same sort of obscurantism.

They show up in the House, move a motion and ask for members' opinions on that motion—or at least they seem to be asking our opinion. However, we are well aware that they have already made up their minds. There will not be very much consultation since we have only a few hours to debate the motion in the House. Then, we will have to vote on it either today or maybe tomorrow. Who knows?

As parliamentarians, we do not really have the freedom to fully debate what Canada's participation in Iraq should be. No matter what party we belong to here in the House, we all agree that Canada has a role to play in helping the Iraqi people. We have the means to help them, whether we are talking about civilians or even the Iraqi military forces that are currently fighting against the Islamic State.

The absolutely horrific acts of violence that the Islamic State has perpetrated have shocked the entire world. No one in the House can ignore this violence, regardless of our position on Canada's participation in Iraq.

Despite these horrors, we cannot blindly engage in a potentially indefinite combat mission in Iraq, and maybe even in Syria. We know very little about how this mission could develop on the ground.

Over the past few days I have listened closely to the Conservative government's attempts to justify Canada's participation in air strikes in Iraq, and today, I am still not convinced that this is how we should proceed.

The government has not clearly and unequivocally demonstrated that air strikes will put an end to the horrific acts being perpetrated by the Islamic State. The government is not even able to answer basic questions from the opposition and cannot specify the objectives of an armed mission in Iraq. We still do not know what would be considered success and how we will measure progress.

In six months, the government may decide to present this information to Parliament, since it has said that any military action by the Canadian Forces would be put to a vote in Parliament. I have my doubts.

Since it has a majority, the Conservative government has not been open. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of reasons to doubt what the government is telling us.

At any rate, in six months, when it is time to consider extending the mission or shifting its objective, we will not even have the information we need to determine whether Canada met its objective. How will we be able to determine whether the Islamic State armed group is no longer capable of harm? Nothing has been defined thus far. There is nothing that would lead us to believe that the mission, as presented by the coalition and the government, will produce concrete results.

Furthermore, if Canada is deemed to have participated sufficiently in the mission after a certain number of months or years, is there an exit plan so that Canada can pull out? We know that it was extremely difficult to pull out of Afghanistan, especially since we left the country in a more or less stable political position. We need to take that into consideration when considering armed intervention in countries such as Iraq and Syria.

Beyond simply bombing rebel groups and, if necessary, working with dictators who use chemical weapons against their own people, does the government have a political solution that will bring about some measure of stability? The Conservatives' plan does not include any of those kinds of elements and, frankly, that is unfortunate.

I mentioned the mission in Afghanistan, as did many others in the House. Unfortunately, there are many similarities between what is being presented today and what was presented at the time as a reconstruction mission in Afghanistan. That is quite worrisome.

I represent the riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, which is home to the Valcartier military base. Many young men and women from the military base were deployed during the war in Afghanistan. Early in my mandate, I had the privilege of going to the airport to welcome them home.

Many of them were my age or younger. They had proudly served their country. They were not prepared for the kind of combat and the horrible situations they encountered over there, so they returned scarred by unspeakable horrors. They had trouble telling combat soldiers from civilians.

When they come back here, they have questions. Did they really achieve the objectives of the mission in Afghanistan? They are looking for help from their government, They come back with physical and mental injuries, but are left to their own devices. They are released before they can collect a pension. The government is unable to take care of the men and women it sends abroad to fight.

In this case, the government is not even clearly defining the plan or the mission objectives for the soldiers that it wants to send abroad. How will those soldiers succeed? The government is once again asking our brave men and women to go serve abroad without even knowing whether the immediate plans will actually have a positive impact on the current situation in Iraq.

My colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie mentioned that the bombings conducted by the coalition countries in Syria and Iraq over the past few months have had a negative impact, and have mainly led to higher recruitment for the Islamic State armed group.

Meanwhile, the coalition has had difficulty determining which rebel groups it could collaborate with in Syria, if a military intervention is conducted there. There are a lot of unknowns on the ground, and we have not received any clarification in that regard either.

In light of these arguments, I do not see how we can just rush into a mission involving air strikes without having any idea of how long the mission will last or the costs associated with it.

We also need to keep in mind the care that we will have to provide to our men and women who participate in the mission. For now, we are talking about air strikes, but who knows what will happen one, two, three or four years down the road. The next government could ask to send in ground troops.

Today, we are being told no, but how can we trust this government? I am very proud to be a member of the NDP, which opposes this military action in Iraq.

National Defence October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, even the United States is still working out the details of the military mission in Iraq and Syria.

The American general who is coordinating the international coalition, John Allen, was in Iraq last week to meet with local authorities and partners to come up with a strategy. This shows that the situation is changing rapidly and there are still a lot of loose ends to take care of.

Why is the government so intent on taking part in air strikes when we do not even know what the American strategy is?

National Defence October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on Friday the Prime Minister said he plans to bomb countries where we have, and I quote, “the clear support of the government of the country in question”. Apparently Syria falls into that category.

Can the Minister of National Defence confirm that he plans to take part in air strikes in Syria if the Assad regime—a regime that has committed the worst atrocities against its own people—gives its consent?

Department of Public Works and Government Services Act October 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to today's debate on Bill C-574. Contrary to what my Conservative colleague just said, this bill is proposing a rather interesting idea that deserves to be explored further in the House.

The idea is to require that the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal buildings and federal real property, give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood while taking into account the factors of cost and greenhouse gas emissions.

This idea is part of a sustainable development approach, which might partly explain why the Conservative government does not seem to want to support it. Sustainable development does not seem to be on its radar. We see how the government allows the haphazard and unrestricted development of our natural resources at the expense of a number of economic sectors and the lives of Canadians.

Sustainable development is important to the NDP. It is with that in mind that I am supporting Bill C-574 at second reading, in the hope that we continue to study it in committee. If there are any problems with the bill, that would be the best time to discuss it and propose amendments that might be needed. However, to do so, we need to study the bill more closely. The bill therefore needs to be referred to committee.

The use of wood in construction is a concept that is starting to take off, especially in Quebec, but also in other regions of Canada. Last year, the Government of Quebec adopted a wood charter, in order to have public works managers assess, for each publicly funded project, the possibility of using wood as construction material. This would also include calculating the greenhouse gas emissions in comparison with other types of materials.

Because that charter was adopted, contractors in Quebec can now build buildings up to six storeys high out of wood, as well as other kinds of infrastructure, such as bridges, for example. Since wood is a sustainable and renewable resource that compares favourably to other building materials, specifically regarding greenhouse gas emissions, I think this alternative needs to be explored.

By using more wood, the government could also save a lot of money, not only when public buildings are being built, but also in the long term. Operating and maintenance costs for buildings made of wood are 55% lower than for buildings made of other materials.

Never mind the issue of sustainable development, I will speak a language that the Conservatives understand: economics. Saving 55% on operating and maintenance costs is significant, to say nothing of the savings that can be had at the time of construction by using wood. These factors should not be dismissed out of hand when new federal building projects are assessed.

Furthermore, the new opportunities that would arise from the increased use of wood in various construction projects could definitely help create more good jobs in rural or remote regions of Quebec, of course, but also many other areas of Canada. This is very important.

The Canadian forest products industry is one of Canada's largest employers. It provides 230,000 direct jobs in 200 communities across Canada. The benefits of using more wood in federal buildings would be visible from coast to coast to coast. We must bear that in mind when evaluating this kind of legislation. This could mean economic benefits for every province and territory. This is very important.

Among the 200 communities that boast jobs directly related to the forestry industy, several are municipalities in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, where the forestry industry has always played a very important role in the regional economy. For instance, in the Portneuf RCM, which includes 18 municipalities, over 1,400 people are employed in the forestry industry, mainly in wood processing.

In addition to veneer, door and window plants, there are also many sawmills in the Portneuf RCM. The forestry industry also played a major role in first attracting people to live in the Portneuf RCM.

The situation is similar in the Jacques-Cartier RCM, which includes nine municipalities. In addition to its historic role in the settlement and development of the Jacques-Cartier region, the forestry industry continues to be important to the regional economy, mainly because of the businesses working in secondary and tertiary processing of wood products.

By passing a bill such as Bill C-574, we could create good jobs in ridings such as mine and in a sector that has experienced major difficulties in recent years. My riding was not spared by the crises in the manufacturing and forestry industries. A few years ago, the AbitibiBowater plant in Donnacona closed its doors, leaving employees without jobs, resources or pensions. The Conservative government of the day refused to take action, which was very unfortunate. The MP at the time—I cannot remember if he was an independent or a Conservative—was not of much help to the people of Donnacona, who were directly affected by the AbitibiBowater plant closure.

That is why members introduce bills such as Bill C-574. They do so to address some of the problems in remote rural regions where it can be difficult to create good jobs that provide adequate income for households in the area.

At present, in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, municipalities have used wood in a number of commercial buildings. The results are quite interesting. This was made possible by the leadership of the municipal councils, but also with the support of the Province of Quebec, which strongly supports the use of wood as a construction material in public buildings and public works.

I would like to give an example that is quite beautiful to see. I invite you to come and visit this building. In 2010, the Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs built its head office in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures in my riding. It decided to use wood for both the interior and the exterior of the building. The result is beautiful, and the building blends in well with its natural surroundings. In 2011, this building and the Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs even received a cecobois award of excellence. The Centre d'expertise sur la construction commerciale en bois or cecobois is an organization that seeks to promote and support the use of wood in multi-family and non-residential construction in Quebec. Of course, it also promotes the use of local resources, such as wood, and tries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting more responsible economic development based on the principles of sustainable development. An organization that demonstrated this type of leadership can be found in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures.

More recently, on September 24, the Centre d'expertise sur la construction commerciale en bois also presented two awards of excellence to municipalities in the Portneuf RCM: Cap-Santé and Portneuf. Cap-Santé built a multi-purpose facility, called the Maison des générations, which will be used by various organizations in the community. A lot of wood was used, and the results are extraordinary. In Portneuf, Bishop Bridge is a wonderful structure made predominantly of wood.

These two municipalities are good models, and the government should look at what was done and how the communities benefited from these projects. It should play a leadership role to try to ensure that the principles of sustainable development are upheld, to help Canadians save money and to promote development in a sector that has lost a lot of jobs in recent years.

That is why I support Bill C-574. I hope that we will have the opportunity to take this bill further and at least examine it in committee so that we can seriously discuss and study it.

Foreign Affairs October 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are asking Canadians to just trust them on a combat mission in Iraq, except that in return they are incapable of being transparent and honest about their plan. They are rushing things and dragging us into a mission that could go on indefinitely. It seems that they are forgetting the real victims: the people who have suffered the atrocities committed by the Islamic State armed group.

What about the humanitarian aid so desperately needed by the civilians affected by this violence?

Lac-Beauport Corrid'Art September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment today to recognize the opening of the new arts walking trail in Lac-Beauport, in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, on August 21.

The Corrid'Art, located in Gentiane park, is in fact an open-air exhibition where visitors can explore the works of 17 artists from the region. It is designed to be a permanent artistic attraction along the tourist route in the region and a great opportunity for showcasing our local talent.

The Corrid'Art is a one-of-a-kind, enriching exhibition, and I invite everyone to take the time to explore it. The project was successfully completed by the Lac-Beauport arts guild, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.

I would like to acknowledge all the hard work of Sylvie Langevin, the president of the guild, and of many local artists, volunteers and supporters who selflessly helped create this arts walking trail.

Through your passion and commitment, each and every one of you contribute to the cultural vitality of the riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier and especially to bringing artists and residents together, and I thank you for it.

Foreign Affairs September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, unlike the Liberals, we are not willing to give the government a blank cheque. There are too many unanswered questions.

The British debated and voted on this in the House, but the Prime Minister chose to go to New York to announce his plans to boost Canada's military involvement in Iraq. It looks like the Prime Minister cares more about the Americans' opinion than about Canadians' opinion.

When will we have a real debate and a vote in the House on Canada's involvement in Iraq?