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 2019, with 11% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 5th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, earlier, one of the hon. member's colleagues asked our finance critic a question. He said that the oil sands were creating a lot of jobs and that, in fact, the oil sands were stimulating the entire Canadian economy.

I would like him to comment on a situation created by this government—the situation where all of our crude oil is sent to the United States. As a result, thousands of Quebeckers and Canadians have lost their jobs. This is particularly true in my riding where thousands of people lost their jobs because of the closure of two refineries in the past few years. I would therefore like him to comment on this issue.

Safe Streets and Communities Act September 27th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear what the hon. member has to say about the fact that, at its annual meeting on August 13 and 14, 2011, the Canadian Bar Association adopted a resolution that states:

...WHEREAS mandatory minimum sentences remove judicial discretion from the sentencing process, precluding sentencing judges from balancing all the factors of the case and imposing a one-size-fits-all solution to dispositions;

...WHEREAS mandatory minimum sentences disproportionately impact already disadvantaged populations, including Aboriginal people;

I would like to add youth to that.

I would like the hon. member to comment on the resolution adopted by the Canadian Bar Association.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his speech.

I would like him to comment on the fact that the Conservatives are trying to bypass the impartial and democratic processes that Canada has previously put in place. There is a refugee board and a commission to hear these kinds of applications. Those institutions are democratic and impartial. The fact that the government is trying to put all the power into the hands of the minister is a grave affront to the impartiality and the democratic nature of the institutions already in place in Canada. I would like him to comment on that.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for sharing this story with us. I would like her to comment on the economic impact of the bill. As I mentioned previously, this bill will lead to the construction of prisons and detention centres. And, as my hon. colleague explained, people will have psychological problems and, if they are accepted as refugees or permanent residents, they will probably have to go to the hospital, which will cost taxpayers even more money. Above all, an individual may not seek permanent residence, work or attend school for five years.

For the benefit of the government, I would like her to speak about the economic impact of this bill.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, this bill gives the minister power without granting those affected by his decisions any right to appeal. They cannot be sure that the minister's decision will be impartial. Under this bill, the minister has all the power and is not subject to any sort of monitoring. The minister can basically do whatever he wants. That is exactly what is being given to the minister.

In a democratic society, a minister should never be given the power to make such important decisions that affect people's lives, safety and stability without the assurance that he will be monitored by someone. As it stands, the minister can do whatever he wants. We know this government's record. The Conservatives have a tendency to put the paperwork into the shredder and then there is no evidence. Right now, the minister can do whatever he wants and no one is able to monitor him.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to remind the hon. members that the NDP does not need to impugn Canada's reputation on the world stage because this government has been doing so since 2006. The Conservatives have done a good job in that regard and continue to do so.

Second, refugees may not be allowed into Canada but that is not the issue. Does this really give the government the right to detain children illegally and arbitrarily? Does it give the government the right to treat refugees like criminals when they have committed no crime? My answer is no. It is illegal. It violates both international and Canadian law. It violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-4 is profoundly unfair to refugees. This bill, as presented by the government, is vague, arbitrary and discriminatory.

How can the Conservatives justify the arbitrary detention of young children? It is simply bizarre for a political party in a country like Canada to present this kind of bill in this House.

I would like to know more about the process by which these designated persons are going to be designated. I see this as a flagrant lack of transparency. What powers will the minister have in all this?

The power to designate enables the minister to discriminate between two classes of refugee protection claimants based on the method by which they arrived in Canada. That means that a person who arrives by air would not be designated or affected by this legislation, but a person who arrives by boat would be. Equality before the law is a fundamental principle in Canada, enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

How can they be proposing a bill that imposes a set of penalties on “designated” persons in direct contravention of article 31 of the refugee convention, which Canada has signed and which expressly prohibits states from imposing penalties on refugees on account of their illegal entry or presence in the territory of a state, particularly where their life, their freedom or their security is threatened.

The government is giving itself the power to arrest and detain any non-citizen, even including residents, based on a mere suspicion of criminality. We are talking about mere suspicion. How can mere suspicion justify detaining people, including children? This is arbitrary detention, and I would remind this government that as such it is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I do not know whether this government thinks it can place itself above the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but, as if that were not enough, the Conservatives are not limiting themselves to designated persons or refugee protection claimants. This applies to all non-citizens.

This is an unbelievable assault on the rights of newcomers. Not only will we designate refugees arbitrarily, but we will also put them in detention with no independent review for a year. In addition, these persons will be designated arbitrarily without knowing the reasons why they are to be detained for a year. I would remind this government that the highest court in Canada has clearly held that detention without review for a long period of time is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

One Commonwealth country already tried to enact a bill like the one the government wants to introduce today. Not only do the Conservatives want to put children in prison—or in detention, the word means the same thing—but their bill does not address the real issue in any event, which is to punish the traffickers, not the refugees. The title of the bill is perfectly clear, but when we read the bill, we realize that the content does not, in any way, address the objective of punishing traffickers. What is happening here is that the refugees are being punished.

On that point, the Canadian Council for Refugees points out, “Mandatory minimum sentences will not deter: under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act smuggling is already punishable by life imprisonment and mandatory minimums have been shown not to work as deterrents.” It also reminds us that Australia has tried punishing refugees in an effort to deter them, but it did not work.

I would also like to stress this fact, “The Australian public was deeply divided, with many previously unengaged citizens joining a grass-roots network to protest at their country’s inhumane treatment of refugees.” Why does this government want to push ahead when we know very well that the Canadian Council of Refugees is telling us this type of legislation is ineffective?

The Australian Human Rights Commission conducted a national inquiry into children in immigration detention and its finding, unsurprisingly, was that children had suffered numerous breaches of their human rights. We are calling for Bill C-4 to be withdrawn. The government should review the bill and tackle the real problem.

As my colleague, the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, said yesterday, between 2008 and 2009, the government had already spent $45 million. I know we have to talk about economics when we talk to the Conservatives, because it seems that human rights and social justice do not mean much to them.

To detain children and detain refugees, we are going to have to build detention centres. What money is going to be used to build them? Taxpayers’ money. Is this going to help us build our economy? No, unfortunately; it is only going to make us look like a country that does not respect human rights.

Let us talk about children now. It is impossible to read this bill without being outraged by the provisions that affect children. Detaining and deporting children—are these things really possible in a free and democratic country like ours? Unless they are accepted as refugees or released on discretionary grounds by the minister in exceptional circumstances, children will stay in detention for at least a year. How can that be justified?

I would also like to remind the Conservatives that the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance. That is being completely disregarded by this government, which would deprive designated persons, including children, of the opportunity to make an application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds for five years, and I would repeat, with no right of appeal, which is a right instituted in our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is a fundamental right.

The conventions on refugees and the rights of children lay down specific requirements to protect the children’s freedom. Detaining children must be a last resort, and must be for as short a time as possible. A child may not be illegally or arbitrarily detained, and has the right to challenge the legality of such detention before a court or other independent authority.

Do the Conservatives really care about the family, the fundamental unit of our society? When I read this bill, I do not think so. Do the Conservatives recognize Canada’s past commitments on the international stage, or do they intend to enact an unfair, undemocratic and discriminatory law?

Let us talk about family reunification. As I said, designated persons may not make an application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds or apply for permanent residence for five years. This means that their family members, who may be in danger in their country, will not have the opportunity to come to Canada until five years have passed. That provision is an unwarranted barrier to making an application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds and is in direct contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. In addition to blithely disregarding the rights of children, the bill deprives certain refugees of the security and stability they need in order to integrate into Canadian society.

I would also like to remind this government that Canada is among the countries that have signed these two conventions. Today, in the House, we see Canada completely flouting its international obligations. The United Nations General Assembly has affirmed the principle that human beings must be treated “without any discrimination” and are entitled to enjoy all of the fundamental rights and freedoms recognized.

In closing, I would like to remind this government, which makes it a point to tell us over and over how Canadians have given it a strong mandate to defend them, that only 40% of the public voted for this government, and 60% disagree with the policies it is trying to adopt today in the House.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his speech. What I am seeing here is a government that, since its budget was adopted, is cutting, cutting and cutting public services. It is cutting pensions. It is making cuts everywhere.

I would like my colleague to comment on that. It is as if the government has seized this opportunity. Actually, we have known for a very long time that it wishes to make cuts to the public postal services. For a long time, post offices in the regions have been lacking funding. It is as if the government is taking advantage of the strike just to try to get around the rules and make cuts to postal services using special legislation.

I would like my colleague to comment on the true intentions of the government, which is accusing us of wanting to hide things from Canadians. Instead, I think that it is the government that is trying to hide things from Canadians.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for that excellent question. There is no need for me to add anything about the government and the head of this crown corporation. We know very well that the corporation did not impose a lockout without the government's agreement. If that were not enough, it dares to offer inferior working conditions, lower wages and, above all, a wage increase that is less than inflation and less than the increase in the cost of living.

As I said in my remarks, it is normal to have no negotiations going on. The government tells us that it tried and tried again. No, it did not try; it just took the side of Canada Post, let it break off the negotiations and let the workers take the blame. We here have all agreed that it is a precedent. From now on, no employer—CBC/Radio-Canada or any other—will ever want to negotiate their collective agreements to a conclusion because they know that the government, which we are unfortunately going to have for four years, will be in their camp.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we are here because we want to stand up on behalf of citizens against this bill that the government is trying to pass. They tried to blame us and told us that if we wanted to attend Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations in our ridings, we simply had to vote for a bill right away, without debating it. I do not think that is how Canadians want us to do politics. That is why we are here today and why we will stay here until the government agrees to debate the amendments we want to propose.