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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

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

It is one of the rare moments in the House when the NDP and the Liberals agree on the fact that no one should let themselves be taken in by the idea that the Conservatives are good managers of public funds. People have repeatedly seen the evidence that it is not true. No one believes that government propaganda any more.

Unfortunately, but clearly, as I said in my speech, both the Parliamentary Budget Officer and a number of financial experts have decried the Conservative government's poor decisions, including income splitting and raising the TFSA limit to $10,000. Billions of dollars are going to be kept out of the public treasury just to help this Conservative government get re-elected and to help their wealthy friends keep more money in their pockets.

We in the NDP have a different vision. We want to ensure equality of opportunity so that people who live in poor conditions can still have access to services and help from the government so they too can take their place in our society. That is true for today and for future generations. Unfortunately the Conservative government does not share our vision.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite must not watch the same news channels as most Canadians and he must not read the same newspapers, because everyone saw and heard the Minister of Finance use those words to answer a question about the impact of raising the TFSA contribution limit to $10,000. I am not sure where he was at that moment. The question has been asked in the House several times. Everyone in Canada is aware of it.

Perhaps the hon. member is confused because I presented a lot of facts based on science, and I know that is not the strong suit of those on the other side. It is difficult to follow but he should go and watch all the videos available on the tabling of the budget, because the Minister of Finance really did say those words and they were criticized all across the country.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, indeed, as my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île pointed out, the Conservatives probably have their heads in the sand.

I would like to talk about another deplorable effect that the budget will have. Actually, in this case it is more of a failure to have an effect. Increasing the universal child care benefit will not create new day care spaces. For parents who have already been lucky enough to secure a spot for their child in a day care centre or in private child care, that is not a problem. They may get a minimal amount of assistance. However, the Conservatives' plan does not address the difficult situation of all the other parents who have nowhere to take their child when they go to work. The NDP has proposed a plan that the Conservatives continue to ignore, for some unknown reason. Contrary to the Conservative propaganda, the NDP does not want to eliminate this benefit. We obviously want parents to have access to what little money they can get. In addition, the NDP has a plan to create $15-a-day child care spaces. Thus, we are offering real choice to parents. In addition to receiving the universal child care benefit, they will have access to affordable day care.

This program already exists in Quebec. The NDP program could bolster the existing program with federal moneys. The results of this program have been extraordinary. I will quote Ann Decter, the spokesperson for the YWCA:

Between 1996, when low-cost child care was introduced in Quebec, and 2008, a total of 69,700 additional mothers joined the workforce;...the number of single mothers on social assistance was reduced by more than half...; relative poverty rates for single parent families headed by women declined from 36% to 22%...; and the GDP rose $5.1 billion...

These are real, tangible effects that will benefit everyone in Canada, not just families. That is the kind of measure we want to see in the budget. We are nonetheless pleased that the Conservatives have finally seen the light after many years and have decided to establish a tax credit for small and medium-sized businesses. That is an NDP idea. They have finally seen the light. We also support the tax credit for home renovation, another of our wishes, along with the measures to assist veterans included in the budget implementation bill. I do not understand why they are there; it is a subject that deserves a proper debate in the House, but we do support these measures, no matter what.

However, because the Conservatives have decided to play political games and include these measures in an omnibus bill, we cannot support it. We must oppose it. It is clearly undemocratic and it does not help the vast majority of Canadian families.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The latest budget implementation bill is, not surprisingly, another omnibus bill. This one is 150 pages long and amends dozens of acts, most of which have nothing to do with the budget. Unfortunately, that should come as no surprise. The Conservatives have gotten into this habit and have tried to make it the norm for Parliament. They have gotten us used to disdain—even outright disgust—for the basic principles of parliamentary democracy. Frankly, this is one of the biggest disappointments of my first mandate.

Since being elected as a majority government, the Conservatives have done everything in their power to sidestep their transparency and accountability obligations. They are the government, but they seem to have forgotten that the MPs, including Conservative backbenchers and opposition MPs, are responsible for overseeing and studying bills. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have repeatedly used omnibus bills as a tactic to avoid the oversight that is meant to be carried out by all of the other parliamentarians in the House as well as all Canadians.

With this clearly undemocratic process, the Conservatives are trying to rush through hundreds of legislative amendments that have nothing to do with the budget, without any study. In the case of the most recent budget, which was tabled on April 21, 2015, on one of the rare work days of our current Minister of Finance, the Conservatives saw an opportunity to launch their election campaign. For the Conservatives, it was not an opportunity to help people who really need help and middle-class Canadian families. It was an opportunity to give presents to their wealthy friends instead of helping those most in need.

Despite the warnings of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, many opposition MPs and various experts, the Conservatives are moving forward with their ill-advised income splitting regime, which will obviously help just 15% of the richest Canadian families and not those who really need help. The income splitting together with the increase in the TFSA contribution limit, which will rise to $10,000, will mean a decrease of billions of dollars in the public coffers in future years.

That money could be used to implement social programs to help families; people living in poverty; single mothers, who the Conservatives claim to want to help; more traditional couples; and so on. However, the government prefers to work on getting re-elected. According to this government, it is not the problem of today's elected officials. Rather, it is the problem of the Prime Minister's granddaughter and future generations. Quite frankly, that is one of the worst things I have heard in the House or anywhere else.

In any case, that is what the current Minister of Finance and this Conservative government think. They are washing their hands of it and will leave it up to our children, grandchildren and future generations to fix all the problems they are creating now. Frankly, that is an irresponsible attitude that I do not understand, especially from people who boast about being extraordinarily strong fiscal managers. Time and time again we have seen that this is not the case.

The Conservatives would have us believe that this is their reputation, but Canadians can see right through it. They know very well that this is not the case. In fact, more and more recent studies name provincial New Democrat governments as the best managers of public funds. In 2015 we will have the opportunity to show Canadians that we will also be the best federal managers of public funds.

To get back to the budget that was just tabled, even the measures that appear to be universal will have very few positive effects on Canadian families. The universal child care benefit is the best example of that. The Conservatives announced a $60 increase with much fanfare. Canadian families will now receive $160 to help them with child care costs. At first glance that may seem like a lot, but with the Conservatives, the devil is in the details and you have to dig a little deeper.

The first thing the Conservatives refuse to tell Canadian families is that this universal child care benefit will be considered taxable income. It is therefore another tax that the Conservative government is imposing on Canadians, regardless of their income.

That tax will be imposed on families regardless of their income. The advice that financial experts are giving Canadian families is to not spend that money on child care but to keep at least half of it to cover any unpleasant surprises they may get when they file their income tax return next year. How does the government think it is really going to help families when they have to put some of the money it gives them aside to cover the cost of this new tax? Frankly, that is ridiculous.

The Conservatives do not seem to understand that $160 per month does not even come close to covering child care costs across the country. I would like to quote a few statistics from 2012 that I obtained from the Childcare Resource and Research Unit. Unfortunately, things have not improved since then. In Nova Scotia, parents who manage to find a day care space for their child—because not all of them can—pay an average of $825 a month. In British Columbia, parents pay an average of $1,047 a month, and in Ontario they pay $1,152 a month. In Toronto, more specifically, child care costs can be up to $1,676 a month. I do not know who the Conservatives think they are going to help with $160 a month. That amount is absolutely ridiculous when we look at the actual financial constraints faced by families who simply want to earn a living and make sure that their children are receiving the best care possible. I really do not know where the government's head is at, offering families such a ridiculously low amount, especially given that they have to save part of it to pay their taxes the following year.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his excellent speech and his very hard work as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance. It must be so hard sometimes, knowing how the Conservative government operates. I can talk more about that later during my own speech.

I would like my colleague to comment further about something. He talked about measures in the budget that the NDP supports, such as the tax cut for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada. We support that measure because it was our idea. The Conservatives took a long time to act on it. All the same, I would like my colleague to explain how the NDP would have implemented that tax rate. I know that the Conservatives are making our small and medium-sized businesses wait for the tax cut. I would like my colleague to talk about how the NDP would start trying to help Canada's entrepreneurs right away.

National Defence May 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this kind of attitude on the part of the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff is simply unacceptable.

The directive sent by General Lawson clearly shows that, in order for attitudes to change within the armed forces, the minister needs to intervene and take responsibility, instead of passing the buck. He must accept the 10 recommendations of the Deschamps report immediately.

How does the minister justify his failure to act? When will he finally implement all of the report's recommendations?

National Defence May 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that makes twice in one week that the Prime Minister's Office released videos that compromise our soldiers' safety. Apparently, no one at the PMO learned from those mistakes because the new images are almost identical to the ones that had to be removed last week.

We seriously question the Conservatives' priorities. The safety of our soldiers is beyond price. Are the Conservatives really prepared to do anything to get a good photo op for the Prime Minister?

National Defence May 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the government still has not responded to the disturbing allegations of mistreatment of Afghan detainees during the Canadian mission in 2010 and 2011. At least two investigations were launched, but the reports were not made public and no charges were laid. We still do not know who was aware of this at the Department of National Defence.

Can the minister confirm whether or not his predecessor had been informed of these allegations?

Petitions May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting another petition on behalf of over 360 people from my riding, Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, who are calling on the government to respect the rights of small family farms to store, trade and use seed.

Petitions May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I join my colleagues in presenting a petition from citizens who want the government to eliminate the federal tax on feminine hygiene products.