House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for La Pointe-de-l'Île (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2021, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Ethics June 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have a right to know how much the Prime Minister's Office knew about the Senate expense scandal. Senator Tkachuk was reimbursed for a trip that he and his wife took to attend the 50th wedding anniversary of another senator. The Speaker of the Senate was reimbursed for expenses related to organizing a Valentine's Day ball. I do not think that really falls within the scope of his official duties.

Does the Prime Minister agree with the Auditor General that the Senate needs an independent oversight body to keep an eye on its expenses? It is simple.

Ethics June 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what the member is refusing to say is that, when the scandal broke, the Prime Minister came to Mike Duffy's defence. He defended Pamela Wallin, and he said that he had complete confidence in Nigel Wright before going back on his word. Now, the Speaker of the Senate is saying that he has done nothing wrong, even though he plans to repay his expenses, and he is asking Canadians to thank him for that. Well done. That is a first-rate apology.

Will the Prime Minister finally keep the promise that he made to Canadians or is he going to continue to defend the indefensible in the Senate?

Ethics June 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's Office did everything in its power to protect senators and cover up the expense scandal every step of the way. The Senate became a treasure trove for Conservative Party fundraisers. At the very beginning, when we were talking about Mike Duffy's place of residence in 2013, the Prime Minister stood up for him. The member for Nepean—Carleton said that Nigel Wright did the honourable thing by giving Mr. Duffy a cheque.

Who in the Prime Minister's Office was in contact with the senators about the Auditor General's report?

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act June 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, according to the report by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, ambulatory incorporation by reference, which includes all post-regulation amendments to administrative documents generated internally by the federal government, should not be permitted in federal government regulations.

Why? Because, unfortunately, that means the many regulations and future amendments will not be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Why, then, does the government want to go ahead and make a change that would allow ambulatory incorporation by reference of international documents instead of just going with static reference, which does not include future changes? That way, if ever the government wanted to amend the law, the proposal would be examined by parliamentarians or the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act June 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Gatineau very much for her work. I know that, like me, she is very concerned about this bill. Her question allows me to elaborate on a specific point because it is really quite hard to talk about such a complex bill in just 10 minutes.

For example, the Treasury Board, which is somewhat responsible for regulations, currently does not have any guidelines for incorporation by reference. In other words, material is currently being incorporated by reference, but there are no criteria or standards to guide that practice. There is nothing guiding regulators when they are adopting regulations.

Unfortunately, the problem is that some regulations will never be reviewed by Parliament. That is what happened with some regulations that were adopted by other legislatures or parliaments outside Canada. Then there is the matter of bilingualism and accessibility because, for now, there are no standards. It is quite problematic. As I said, it is rather complicated because incorporation by reference can be static or open. According to the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, open incorporation by reference should never be used for material from outside Canada. This bill currently allows that.

There are serious problems in terms of how these regulations will be reviewed. Will parliamentarians be made aware of these issues? Will they be able to examine these regulations? We are not sure. In my opinion, passing such an important bill that will have an impact on all Canadians is something that deserves a much closer look.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act June 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Charlottetown for his question. That is something that we made a point of raising in committee. For instance, I would like to read an excerpt from the letter that was sent by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations:

Where standards emanating from independent third parties are incorporated by reference, there is no reason why the regulation-making authority should not be responsible for making the necessary arrangements to obtain permission to make that standard available to the public free of charge.

Thus, when we talk about accessibility, that includes translation in both languages, French and English, so that all Canadians can read the text in the language of their choice. However, that also includes accessibility in terms of cost, in other words, free access. The law must be available to everyone because everyone must be able to read it.

Why, then, do the Conservatives not want to specify what the word “accessibility” means if, according to them, it is crystal clear? In that respect, they cannot have it both ways.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act June 9th, 2015


Motion No. 2

That Bill S-2 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to have this opportunity to speak to the House today about Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act and to make consequential amendments to the Statutory Instruments Regulations, because I think it is very important.

This bill might seem very technical. However, as my colleague from Gatineau often says, the devil is in the details, and that is exactly what we are seeing with this particularly disturbing bill. In my speech, I will explain why we want to remove clause 2.

First of all, clause 2 reads as follows:

In the case of a document produced by the regulation-making authority, either alone or jointly with a person or body in the federal public administration, the document or part may be incorporated only if it

There are a number of criteria, such as “contains...elements that are incidental to...the rules...” and this one:

...reproduced or translated from a document, or part of a document, produced by a person or body other than the regulation-making authority, with any adaptations of form or reference that will facilitate its incorporation in the regulation...

Already, this poses a problem. What is “a person or body other than the regulation-making authority”? We are talking about regulations that can be passed by the government, that do not necessarily have to be debated in the House.

We are wondering who exactly is a person or body other than the regulation-making authority. There is nothing to define that. The problem is really about knowing what we can expect from this government. That is what the issue is. Why do the Conservatives want to pass a bill that is essentially enabling legislation for any authority to pass regulations?

This issue of regulations is quite problematic. For instance, when the Conservatives wanted to make changes to employment insurance, it was all done through regulations. The same thing happened with Bill C-51 on safety standards. All of this, then, will be passed through regulations. Regulations are the basis of legislation.

As proof, there are hundreds of pages of regulations. For example, at the federal level, there are 3,000 regulations and 30,000 pages. However, legislation accounts for only 450 laws and 13,000 pages. Thus, there are twice as many pages of regulations, which will be exempted from parliamentary scrutiny, and I will explain why.

When we were conducting our study at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I asked a question about incorporating by reference a regulation from another country, for example a country with which we signed a free trade agreement or concluded any agreement, regardless of the criteria of the agreement.

International foreign parliaments adopt regulations, but the Parliament of Canada is not necessarily aware of the changes made in those other parliaments. We take care of Canada's business here in this Parliament. We do not know what will happen in the United States, France, or Brazil.

If we incorporate by reference legislation that falls under the jurisdiction of another parliament and it is agreed that these subsequent changes will be part of Canadian law, then we are also saying that regulations subject to review by Canadian Parliament could be changed by another parliament without MPs' knowledge. This will become part of the law without Canadians knowing it. It is ridiculous.

The last clause of the bill, clause 18.7, reads as follows:

The validity of an incorporation by reference that conforms with section 18.1 and that was made before the day on which that section comes into force is confirmed.

Does this not remind hon. members of something? The government is currently trying to pass legislation to ensure that the RCMP cannot be found guilty of violating the Access to Information Act. The government is trying to pass a law that will make anything that has been incorporated by reference valid without having to be examined by parliamentarians. That is ridiculous. We are beginning to see a trend: the Conservatives are trying to go back and legalize things that they did in the past without respecting the regulations in place at the time. That is shameful. That is why we cannot support this bill in its current form.

The bill refers to a body other than the regulation-making authority. However, that body is not defined. The bill refers to another authority, another body or another person, as I already mentioned. This term comes up several times in the bill. Anyone who reads the bill will wonder what is meant by a person or body other than the regulation-making authority. What is comes down to is that, because this is enabling legislation, this bill allows regulations to be passed through incorporation by reference without having to be examined by the government.

The bill also addresses the issue of accessibility:

18.3 (1) The regulation-making authority shall ensure that a document, index, rate or number that is incorporated by reference is accessible.

However, there is no definition of the term “accessible”. I suggested amendments in Parliament but, unfortunately, the Conservatives voted against them. They seem to think that “accessible” is a clear term that does not require a definition. If this term is as clear as they claim, why not put a definition in the law? The witnesses agree that the term should be defined. We cannot use a legal term in a bill without including a definition. That is ridiculous.

I asked the executive director of the Standards Council of Canada a question about accessibility. A criterion of accessibility is imposed on all legislative and departmental authorities, except that there is no definition for this term. Even if a department or regulatory authority is required to issue a regulation whether or not it is subject to ambulatory incorporation by reference, is it possible that a fee would be charged? We do not know. A Canadian might have to pay to access a regulation. How can fees be charged to access what is part of our legislation? That is ridiculous. If you have to plead a case in court, for example, you must have access to the regulations.

The bill has other problems, especially with respect to translation. Will all of the regulations incorporated by reference be translated into French and English? The United States is not required to translate all of its regulations by incorporation. The U.S. does not have the constitutional obligation to translate its regulations. How can we ensure that everything that is incorporated by reference is subject to our bilingualism requirements, especially if Parliament cannot examine these regulations? That is another problem.

I simply want to say that this is a very serious problem. We are passing a bill that validates all of the incorporations that have been made in the past 30 years—before this bill was passed—even if they did not meet the criteria. That is the first reason why we will not support this bill. The second reason is that the regulations would no longer be subject to parliamentary review because they would be adopted by reference. That is a big problem. The government will be adopting regulations, rates or indices, and members of Parliament and Canadians will not be aware of them and will never have an opportunity to oppose them.

In short, it is very important for all members of this House to reject this bill and to review it so we can pass something that makes sense and that will not exempt our regulations from review by Canadian parliamentarians.

Main Estimates 2015-16 June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is so funny to see the two old parties continuing to use the same arguments they have been using for 30 years, the same arguments that discouraged Canadians from voting. They discouraged young people from becoming interested in politics.

We are going to respect the wishes of Canadians. We are going to consult Canadians and respect their wishes, something those two parties have never done. They got voted in and then they broke their promises. It is very easy for them to attack me personally as a member and to come to the House and repeat the same old arguments they made in the past.

We want to work with the provinces and Canadians, something those other two parties never did. The Liberals stole millions of dollars from Canadians in the sponsorship scandal and the Conservatives did the same in the in and out scandal and the Senate scandal. They stole millions of dollars from Canadians. We want to change things. We want to bring real change to Ottawa.

Main Estimates 2015-16 June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for asking me that very interesting question.

The first thing we will do is consult the provinces, something the Prime Minister has refused to do since being elected. The Conservative Prime Minister has never met with all the provincial premiers at the Council of the Federation. The first thing my leader will do is attend the first ministers' meeting.

Then, there will indeed be a referendum. I am looking the hon. member in the eye to assure him that the will of Canadians and Quebeckers will be respected.

Main Estimates 2015-16 June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to note that I will be sharing my time with the honourable member for Sherbrooke.

I am really very happy to be able to express my views on this motion. It is funny because the government is trying to tell Canadians that the reason we are here this evening is because the opposition wants to debate its motion. I would like to remind the parliamentary secretary for the Prime Minister that this is not an opposition motion by the NDP, but rather a government motion. What we want is simply to vote against the votes in the main estimates.

As they say, “That's it, that's all.”

We are here because of the government. That is fine because it gives me an opportunity to say just how outraged I am that the Liberals and the Conservatives are accusing us today of debating a subject that is not important to Canadians and are saying that Canadians have other things to worry about. There is nothing more fundamental than respect for the Canadian values of integrity, transparency and ethics. People vote for us and send us here, to Parliament, to make policies and pass bills that will help the most vulnerable, for example, and families.

Let us talk about the Conservative Party. The RCMP has told us that the Prime Minister's Office was directly involved in altering reports on senators' expenses. We know, thanks to plain facts, that Conservative members used the services of Conservative senators to raise funds in their constituencies at taxpayers' expense. We have a Conservative government that tells us that it tried to reform the Senate and that it wants an elected Senate with term limits. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the Conservatives' plan was unconstitutional. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister rose to talk about this plan and added that, unfortunately, because the plan is unconstitutional, the government will leave things alone and allow senators to continue to travel at the expense of taxpayers and the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île, who pay for Conservative senators to fundraise in Conservative ridings. That is unacceptable. The Conservative Party wants to continue sending $57 million to the Senate, but it does not know how to reform it.

Then there are the Liberals. I can hear them laughing behind me. The Liberals think this is awfully funny. They are saying that they are going to create a committee made up of unelected people. They do not know who will sit on that committee. Will the committee members be appointed by the Prime Minister or by the government? We do not know. They are going to create a committee to appoint senators. The Liberals' plan involves saying that the Prime Minister will have to appoint senators and take responsibility for them. However, the Liberals are now rising in the House to say that the Liberal senators are no longer members of the Liberal Party and that they are no longer responsible for them. They are trying to tell us that they are going to take responsibility for their future appointments, but they are not responsible for any appointments they made in the past 30 years. Honestly, that is ridiculous. It is just ridiculous.

The Liberal Party wants the status quo. It is going to create a committee to appoint people to appoint people. It is ridiculous to think that a new layer of bureaucracy is going to solve the problems with the Senate. Whether senators are elected or not, they are not accountable to Canadians. That is the first problem. None of the parties here has been able to come up with a solution that will ensure that senators who pass bills will be accountable to Canadians.

Not only do they have the nerve to point fingers at the opposition and say that we have no solution or that our solution is ridiculous, but the Conservatives also have the nerve to come here and say that they have solutions, but they cannot implement those solutions because they would not work. That is ridiculous.

We have bills on the environment and LGBT rights that have been held up by the Senate. There are even bills that were passed by Conservative members. For example, there is the party reform bill. Remember that one? It is in the Senate. Even some Conservative bills have not been passed by senators. Never has a senator voted against his or her party and truly represented the people in his or her district. The Senate's constitutional role is to represent the regions because it was created to counterbalance regions with less representation in the House of Commons.

No senator has ever come to my riding to meet the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île, to say hello and tell them that he represents them in the Senate, to find out what matters to them, to talk about their rights. No senator has ever done that. For someone to tell me that the Senate is a democratic institution is ridiculous.

On top of that, we have senators who do not show up for work in the Senate, but who go to the ridings of government MPs to help get them re-elected. Senators who represent Canadians do not even bother to meet with them, and yet those senators go and meet people in other ridings who have the fortune or misfortune to be represented by a Conservative member.

The reform proposed by the Conservatives is impossible, because it is unconstitutional. The reform proposed by the Liberals is the status quo. They are proposing adding a small selection committee, but they have no idea what will come of that. Basically, it is the status quo. They have no plan.

The only concrete plan to reform our democratic institutions is our plan to abolish the Senate. That is precisely why we are here in the House this evening—to vote against funding the Senate. Right now, we are about to allocate millions of dollars to an institution that is extremely corrupt and, unfortunately, no longer works. Bills passed by Parliament, even those that pass unanimously, are sent to the Senate and are blocked by unelected senators who travel at Canadians' and Quebeckers' expense.

We cannot allow this to continue. We need to take action and do something about it. If we listen to the Conservatives or the Liberals, the Senate will stay the same, and that is unacceptable. We are here today to try to put an end to this undemocratic system that is stealing money directly from Canadians to fund the parties in power.