House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

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

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He seems to have paid attention to my speech, because I went into great detail about how income splitting was not a valid measure. It does not help Canadian families, and the NDP has already committed to reversing that decision.

I do not understand the Conservatives' obsession. Actually, I do understand. There is an election coming up. They are trying to woo a small elite to try to win a few more votes. They are not providing tangible assistance for the majority of middle-class families.

What I would have liked—and the day is not over, so there is still time—is to hear what the member for Papineau thinks. I still have not heard his thoughts on this topic. He has made some contradictory statements recently. In London, Ontario, he said that we should transition away from the manufacturing sector. The following day, in Windsor, he told workers that we should invest in the automotive sector. That is a little confusing.

The Conservatives seem to be confused, but the Liberals are too. I would have liked to hear the member for Papineau clarify. I am still holding out hope, since the day is not over yet.

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in the House today to join my colleagues in supporting the motion moved by my hon. colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

Before I begin my speech, I would like to mention that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Compton—Stanstead, and I look forward to hearing his presentation.

The motion is very simple. What the NDP wants is quite clear. I will nevertheless tell the government once again what we are looking for, because sometimes we talk but the message does not get through. I will therefore try again.

First of all, we are calling on the government to present a fiscal and economic update to Parliament in order to inform both parliamentarians and Canadians about the real state of our public finances. We do not want any bogus projections from the Conservatives, as we have seen recently. We want an update on the state of our public finances.

Furthermore, we are also calling on the government to commit to presenting a budget that includes measures to help the middle class and create good-quality jobs. Frankly, that would be a refreshing change. What we are asking for is not unreasonable; quite the contrary.

From the minute we started debating this motion today, the Conservatives have refused to answer our questions and be transparent with Canadians. They keep giving us spin. They would have us believe that they are excellent managers, but everyone knows that this is not true. I can understand them wanting to bury their heads in the sand because reality is far from being in their favour. The current situation in Canada very clearly illustrates this Conservative government's incompetence. As I was saying, the Conservatives would have us believe that they are good managers and that we should trust them to lead our economy and help middle-class families. However, Canadians know better.

The NDP has repeatedly talked about the Conservatives' obsession with developing natural resources at the expense of other sectors of the Canadian economy and the possible consequences of not diversifying the country's economy. We are facing those consequences today. The Conservatives have denied the facts and tried to discredit the NDP for various reasons. Today, we are facing a problematic situation with the current price of oil.

The price of a barrel of oil is plummeting. Recently, TD Economics announced that because of the rapid drop in oil prices, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the Canadian government to balance the books for 2015-16, as promised. It is not likely to happen until 2017-18, and even that is pretty optimistic.

TD Bank seems to think that oil prices will recover, but other economists are much more pessimistic. A balanced budget could come even later than 2017-18 if conditions remain as they are.

I would like to quote from an article written by Alain Dubuc and published in La Presse yesterday. Nobody would accuse Mr. Dubuc of being a closet New Democrat. Nevertheless, he accurately portrayed the Conservatives' incompetence when it comes to the economy. He wrote:

The Canadian formula had less to do with Conservative genius than a fortuitous advantage—oil—over which they had no control. Canada's success—or rather the illusion of success based on oil-doped numbers—relied too heavily on burgeoning investment in oil and growth in the west, and not heavily enough on modernizing and diversifying the Canadian economy. That has led to significant environmental consequences and high costs for Quebec and Ontario. The government is therefore partly to blame for this turmoil.

As I was saying, Mr. Dubuc sums up the situation very well, and highlights the problem caused by the Conservatives when they decided to put all their eggs in one basket, and concentrate exclusively, or almost so, on the natural resources extraction sector to the detriment of other sectors of the economy. I am referring to the manufacturing sector, which has suffered huge losses in recent years.

We are now confronting job losses and the bankruptcy of big companies, as is now the case with Sony and Mexx, to mention only those two. Suncor is also announcing job cuts. Even the extractive sector is now suffering, because the price of oil is much too low.

Economists estimate that every $5 drop in the price of a barrel of oil costs our government nearly one billion dollars. We can thus imagine that if the price of oil stays as low as $45 U.S. a barrel, as it is today, that could represent a revenue loss of nearly $6 billion in a year for the Canadian government. Yet the Conservative government was relying on that revenue to generate a surplus and make election promises to its cronies. We thus have a problem on our hands. Apart from not necessarily being able to help Canadian families, we may find ourselves facing other cuts. The government’s choices are in fact fairly limited. That is why the NDP is now asking for an economic and financial update. It wants a real-world picture of the situation in order to be able to make the most appropriate choices for Canadian families.

Looking at the situation, I can certainly believe that the government is panicking, and wants to delay the tabling of its budget until April. However, crossing your fingers and hoping that the price of oil will stabilize or increase is not a valid economic strategy. I hope the Conservatives will realize this fairly quickly.

The Conservatives maintain that they will balance the budget, whatever it takes, but how are they going to achieve such a result? Are they going to cut services to Canadians even more than they have already done? Are they going to dip into the contingency reserve that should be used in emergencies, and not to fill gaps in the budget that the Conservatives were not able to foresee? Neither of these two choices represents a real solution that will benefit Canadian families. People are looking to the government for help.

A few months ago, we saw the Conservatives postponing $3 billion worth of military procurement because, there again, they saw that they would not be able to achieve their balanced budget. They cut in areas that directly affected frontline services to veterans, people that this government is constantly trying to make use of for electoral purposes. They claim to be big defenders of our military and our veterans, when we know very well that this is absolutely false. We will be facing agonizing choices because the Conservative government is quite simply incompetent in matters of economic management, and has not been able to prepare forecasts for the budget.

In fact, it chose instead to give election goodies to its buddies. Did it suggest the possibility of not implementing the expensive and inefficient income-splitting arrangement? Not at all. On the contrary, I believe it would look rather bad in this election year. However, the arrangement in question has been criticized by many experts and many economists. In addition to offering nothing to over 85% of Canadian families—which is huge—there are clear indications that setting up such a scheme would push the government into deficit. We are therefore in a difficult situation already, but the government is considering dipping into reserves that should be used in the case of floods or natural disasters, and unforeseen events of that kind. The government is out to win points in specific constituencies with a particular elite that the Conservatives are trying to win over, and it continues to push forward such a plan.

I clearly recall that the new Minister of Veterans Affairs was quite proud to announce to Canadians, to his Conservative supporters, that this tax measure introduced by his government would result in a tax credit of nearly $3,500 for his family. That is magic. Thank goodness there are limits on tax credits. I cannot imagine what he might get with his new minister's salary. What will this measure do for 85% of Canadian families? Absolutely nothing. Once again, the Conservatives hope to buy the vote of the wealthy with this gift.

What we are asking for today is very simple. We want the government to stop burying its head in the sand and be honest and transparent with Canadians for once. We want the government to present the actual economic situation. The NDP has proposed measures that could help Canadian families, such as our affordable national child care plan. When Quebec implemented its child care program, 70,000 women entered the labour market. This is a practical measure that will stimulate the economy and create jobs. I do not hear the government making such proposals. What we want to see today is a commitment from the government that it will present a budget that includes measures to help Canadian families and provide an economic update. It is very simple.

Petitions January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present four petitions from my constituents in Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

The petitioners are calling on the government to create a legal mechanism to establish a Canadian extractive sector ombudsman for responsible mining.

National Defence December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it has been five week since Canadian fighter jets started bombing Iraq. It is difficult to believe, especially considering the government's silence.

There has been no update on the costs or the possibility of extending the mission past the original six-month timeframe. We do not even know if the mission is achieving the objectives set by the government. In fact, we do not even know what those objectives are.

Why are the Conservatives refusing to be accountable to Canadians regarding their military mission in Iraq?

Claude Huot Award December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on December 10, the sixth Claude Huot award ceremony was held in Saint-Raymond-de-Portneuf. This award, created by the Saint-Raymond heritage society, acknowledges efforts to protect and conserve heritage buildings in the municipality.

I want to congratulate the 2013 award winners, Marcel Gilbert and Pierrette Genois, the proud owners of a magnificent, eclectic Victorian home built in the 1920s.

This year, the award ceremony was especially moving because the man who inspired it passed away on September 29 at the age of 89.

I want to offer my deepest condolences to Daniel Dion, the mayor of Saint-Raymond, and Christiane Huot, Mr. Dion's spouse and Mr. Huot's daughter, and their entire family.

Claude Huot was passionate about history and geography and was the founder of the Saint-Raymond heritage society. He was known for his phenomenal memory and his great love for his home town, which he shared with us through his many writings. We paid a rather emotional tribute to him on December 10.

Thank you for everything, Mr. Huot. Through the Saint-Raymond heritage society, your work will live on.

National Defence December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the F-35 procurement secretariat just released an update on this file.

As we expected, the cost for Canadians has gone up again. It is now going to cost $45.8 billion to purchase, maintain and operate the F-35s. As if that were not enough, the last plane would not be ready until 2025. Confusion reigns and Canadians want to know how their money will be spent.

Will the minister finally commit to holding an open and transparent bidding process?

Petitions December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, like my colleagues from the greater Quebec City area, I too have the pleasure of presenting a petition to ensure the longevity of the Quebec Bridge.

The people of the south shore are represented by Conservative government members, but apparently not well represented. I have a petition asking decision-makers to sit down together, get the discussion going without delay, and do the necessary work to ensure the longevity of a piece of infrastructure that is essential to the greater Quebec City region.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to know that my colleague knows where my riding is and which military base is there. My grandfather served there. I come from a military family. So I clearly understand about the service and the sacrifices that the members of our Canadian Forces are asked to make. Wanting to protect them is one of my priorities.

On the other hand, when we listen to this government, we cannot just talk about protection and the importance of security agencies. We must ensure that they are given the resources they need to carry out their mandate. When we look into what the Conservatives have done since they came into power, we note that in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, CSIS had to reduce its budget by $15 million. This year, from now until 2015, their budget will be cut by $24.5 million. That is on top of the cuts of $687.9 million by 2015. They will have cuts to their budget over three consecutive years. I will take no lessons from the Conservative government on protecting Canadians. They are not able to give the necessary resources to the organizations that are in charge of doing that.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

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

I am very happy to hear him speak on behalf of his colleagues in favour of civilian oversight at CSIS. It would have been nice to hear more Liberal members say so today in the House. I think it is too bad to see this member rise and speak on behalf of all of his colleagues. There is time allocated for debate in the House, and that is the time to rise.

As for the rest, the NDP has stressed the importance of increased oversight at CSIS, and we are working to achieve this. We need to ensure that there is oversight, whether it is by parliamentarians or civilians. As I mentioned earlier, we tried to increase the existing civilian oversight in committee, more specifically with respect to the qualifications of the members on the oversight committee.

There are different things we could do now to improve oversight, without necessarily creating another committee. That is something to look at, of course. I am always open to debate. That is what the House is for—debating.

However, the most important issue for us is that we want to increase civilian oversight of CSIS.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join my colleagues in debating a bill on a very important subject. This bill would modernize the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for the purpose of increasing its powers.

However, as several of my colleagues pointed out, adopting the bill as written could have very serious consequences for our citizens and change the way things are done in this country. This bill is deeply flawed, and it is unconstitutional.

That being the case, it is impossible for me and the rest of my colleagues to support such a fundamentally flawed bill. We had hoped for a more co-operative approach in committee so that we could amend the more problematic elements and ensure that the bill truly met Canada's needs. However, the Conservatives exhibited their usual rigidity and dogmatic blindness and flatly rejected all of the good amendments that were proposed. That is how we ended up with the flawed document before us today.

In short, Bill C-44 proposes three major changes to the powers of CSIS. It clarifies the legal authority of CSIS to conduct operations abroad. It is basically a legal confirmation of what is already being done. It confirms the jurisdiction of the Federal Court to issue warrants that have effect outside Canada and it makes changes to the protection of the identity of CSIS human intelligence sources in judicial proceedings. In other words, the proposed changes will significantly increase CSIS's powers.

However, as per the criticisms my colleagues have expressed here in the House, this bill does not contain any provisions to strengthen civilian oversight of CSIS even though that is an essential principle that should be defended by all members of the House, regardless of what party they belong to. Nevertheless, we have heard very little from the Liberals and I have a hard time imagining that a Conservative backbencher would question a measure presented by the eloquent Minister of Public Safety or any other Conservative frontbencher.

Any new power bestowed on an oversight body such as CSIS must be accompanied by increased civilian oversight. That is very simple, but such oversight offers better protection for Canadians. We understand that the role of CSIS is to try to protect Canadians through its various activities, but we also have a responsibility as parliamentarians to protect Canadians from various invasions of their privacy. This bill seems to completely ignore that responsibility, which is nevertheless an integral part of our mandate.

Right now, the Security Intelligence Review Committee serves as the oversight body for CSIS. The members of this committee work part time, are unelected and are appointed by the Prime Minister. Since we know how he appoints senators, we all have reason to be concerned.

The interim chair used to be a Reform MP, which does not really inspire confidence either. What is more, two of the five seats on this committee are vacant. This committee is clearly deficient and needs to be improved, but there is no mention of that in Bill C-44.

Furthermore, in the Conservative budget 2012, they eliminated the position of inspector general of CSIS. The individual in that position was responsible for the internal oversight of CSIS, ensuring that the service's activities complied with the law. Now all we have is a puppet review committee that can be stacked with whoever the governing party wants. Past appointments to the position of chair of that committee have been less than inspiring.

Consider, for example, Arthur Porter and Chuck Strahl. Those names are not associated with generally commendable actions. However, that is the kind of committee that is currently overseeing CSIS's activities. The Conservatives want to give it even greater powers, but have no interest in addressing the problems that exist within the review committee.

We in the NDP have a serious problem with that. We take our duty to protect Canadians' civil liberties very seriously, but that unfortunately does not appear to be the case for the other parties of this House. We proposed a number of amendments in committee to try to strengthen the civilian oversight of CSIS, but as usual, the Conservatives unfortunately would not listen.

In fact, it is far worse: they ignored all the amendments presented even though they were all justified. Experts submitted their evidence in committee even though they were given very little time. They suggested to the government different ways to ensure that the legislation is constitutional and that the civil liberties of Canadians are protected. The Conservatives believe that because they have been elected and have a majority, they do not have to do anything with the proposals, even though they are based on many years of experience and research in the area. They tell themselves that they know better. They presented the current bill before us and chose to completely ignore any piece of advice that ran counter to their ideas.

Quite frankly, I have trouble understanding this attitude. We see it at every committee and in every parliamentary debate. I have lost track of the number of time allocation motions that have been introduced in the House and the number of in camera committee meetings where we were unable to make various submissions, even in respect to the witnesses that were to appear before a committee. It is quite difficult for opposition parties to make sure certain of their witnesses are heard in committee, just because the government is somewhat of a control freak. If someone knows the right French term, let me know.

Nevertheless, that is the context we are working in and it is frankly too bad, especially when we are dealing with a bill as important as Bill C-44. We all agree that we have to take measures to protect Canadians and fight terrorism, both abroad and at home. I talk to the people in my riding and they are concerned about what is happening in the world and what is happening here at home. Nonetheless, they also still want to live under the rule of law, as we do now. These laws are being eroded all the time under the current government. Still, everyone in the country is concerned about this. The government should listen to these concerns and take them into account. This should be reflected in one way or another in the bills it introduces in the House.

When expert witnesses are given just four hours in committee hearings, the various opinions of Canadian citizens are not being taken into consideration. These witnesses know the subject matter and care deeply for the common good of their fellow citizens. The government completely ignored these testimonies when it could have benefited from them. It might have saved itself a tremendous amount in legal fees. Those are coming.

In any event, the Conservatives do not seem to be particularly concerned about this. They found a way to balance the budget. They will simply not spend the money that is allocated for veterans or others, which will leave more money to cover the legal fees when various bills are challenged. I am thinking about their prostitution bill, or Bill C-44, which will inevitably end up before the courts. This awareness does not seem to be part of the Conservative mindset, and that is too bad.

One of the NDP's main concerns is protecting Canadians' civil liberties while guaranteeing their safety. That was our focus when we worked on Bill C-44 in committee and that will continue to be the focus of our work in the House. We tried to improve the bill. Now we will have to see what happens in court. In fact, I think that is where we will end up. I think it is unfortunate that we have to deal with such an attitude. I cannot say it enough.