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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

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is surely not as undemocratic as what this government is doing today in this House.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, today is actually June 25, but I will not apologize for not being in my riding to celebrate Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. However, I would like to wish all Quebeckers a wonderful national holiday. I am with them in spirit. I am so proud to be a Quebecker. Let us celebrate our culture and our beautiful language.

Now, to get back to the subject, namely, Bill C-6. I heard the speeches given by my hon. colleagues across the floor. I heard them say repeatedly that the complete shutdown of postal services is hurting the Canadian economy and SMEs and that this must absolutely be resolved. I understand that, because it is completely legitimate.

However, they forgot to mention one important detail in their speeches. The employees of Canada Post never called a general strike. They did not want to stop delivering the mail. Instead, they decided to stage rotating strikes, so that Canadians would still receive their mail. It was the employer, Canada Post, that decided to impose a lockout and shut down mail delivery.

It is even more shocking to see this government try to then blame the workers and the NDP to justify its policy. The employees want to return to work and we know that Canada Post never would have imposed a lockout without the approval of the government and the Minister of Labour, who is currently not here.

The shutdown of mail delivery is affecting the economy. The government has to end the lockout. I am truly shocked to see the government so readily blame every party except his own.

Yesterday, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture said that millions of Canadians and small and medium-sized businesses were suffering because of the lockout and that the voters elected the Conservatives, who now have to represent the voters' interests. Are they forgetting that the Canada Post workers also voted for us? Are they forgetting that the workers' families and friends are counting on us? They too voted for us. Are they forgetting that their children are also counting on us? Those Canadians also have the right to have their interests represented in the House of Commons.

We are not talking about a right that is part of some act or regulation. We are talking about a right that is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is a fundamental human right that is the key to balancing the power relationship between the employees and the employer, which already has a position of strength over its employees.

Why is the government so bent on denigrating the workers and bolstering that position? This disrupts the balance of the whole structure in the workplace. A society without labour rights, without collective bargaining, is not a free and democratic society. Talk to the many political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in countries condemned by Amnesty International because those countries do not respect these fundamental rights.

Thousands of activists have been imprisoned after devoting their lives to defending labour rights and fighting for the workers in their country. I have a good example. Mansour Ossanlou, president of the bus workers' union in Tehran, spent his whole life standing up for workers' rights. He is now in jail in his country, being tortured.

I know that the hon. members opposite will say that we are not in Iran here. I would tell them that indeed, in Canada, workers have the right to negotiate for better working conditions. They have the right to negotiate for better wages and stable pensions to avoid spending their retirement in poverty.

How dare the government talk about freedom and democracy when it now wants to use its majority—which represents only 40% of Canadians—to force workers to return to work for wages reduced by $875 over four years and pensions that are less stable, with less vacation, less sick leave and fewer benefits? How dare the government use the economic recovery to justify these major cuts?

How can people living in uncertainty and with lower wages contribute to Canada's economic recovery? That makes no sense.

The young people of my generation are getting a terrible message. They are being told that they will not have good wages, good pensions, good benefits or good working conditions, and above all, that they will not have the right to negotiate for better conditions.

Canada Post, as a crown corporation, is well aware that it is not in its interest to negotiate with the employees because the government will take its side. The government will legislate in its favour. That is exactly why today, negotiations have come to a standstill. That is also why we are here today, since the employees have no other choice. We are their only way out in terms of defending their rights. In this situation, the government is not acting in good faith by offering less than what Canada Post had offered its own employees.

Canada Post employees are still mobilized in my riding. Despite the rain the day before yesterday, there were about 30 employees picketing in front of the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Boulevard post office in Pointe-aux-Trembles. The vast majority of motorists taking that route showed their support by honking their horns or waving. Contrary to what the government is trying to make Canadians believe, the majority of people understand the reasons that pushed the Canada Post employees to go on a rotating strike, however they do not understand why this government locked the workers out.

A large number of constituents in my riding work in factories, small workshops and the construction sector. They are unionized workers who understand the importance of having good, safe working conditions. They sympathize therefore with the Canada Post mail carriers and employees whose mail preparation procedure will be modified.

The Canada Post Corporation has already started to change the mail assembly procedure. Some mail carriers in Laval now have to prepare their mail while they walk. The mail carriers will now be required to wear two mail pouches, one on each side of their body. Regardless of the rain, wind, hail, or snow, mail carriers tread the sidewalks with loads of tens of pounds, sometimes loads of up to 30 pounds. How will they be able to regain their balance in a wet staircase or on an icy sidewalk if they are carrying mail pouches hanging from each side of their body?

The number of on the job accidents will increase and these accidents will become more serious. Furthermore, the government wants to cut mail carriers’ benefits and salaries. What will be the impact of this measure in areas with a lot of exterior staircases, as is the case in Tétreaultville, located in the western part of my riding?

“The worst negotiated agreement is better than the best imposed agreement,” according to a popular adage among collective labour contract negotiators.

In keeping with their right-wing ideas, the Conservatives want to punish workers who believe in labour relations laws and collective bargaining, and have resorted to entirely legal and legitimate job action in the form of rotating strikes. This government argues that the scale it wants to impose is the same as for federal government public servants. In addition to making a mockery of working conditions, the government has given an arbitrator—who will be intervening in relation to a particular issue—a mandate with no real flexibility. Given the constraints placed upon the arbitrator, his decision is almost predictable.

A responsible government only uses special back-to-work legislation as a last resort. This government from the new right wants things its way and is willing to scare government workers in the process. The special legislation will set a precedent in the history of labour relations despite there being no general strike, just a government-imposed lockout.

For the residents of Pointe-de-l'Île, Quebec and Canada, democracy is not simply about voting in general elections; it is something they experience daily, in the workplace. Unionized workers have the right to bargain and to organize, but also the right to engage in job action.

I was disgusted today to hear my government colleagues say that we have no respect for Canadians and SMEs, and that we do not care about Canada’s best interests. I will not allow this government to blame us for its undemocratic practices, driven by the economic interests of companies and employers. I will not allow this government to try and tell Canadians that the NDP is not there for them. We are here not only for the workers at Canada Post, but for all Canadians.

We are here for them, for their families and their children.

Business of Supply June 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we must consider the fact that, in 2010, in urban centres, the maximum payment for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement was less than $5,039 a year. The increase provided in the budget will only benefit single seniors whose additional income is less than $2,000 a year, so that makes a total of about $7,039 a year. I would like my hon. colleague to tell me how a paltry $50 a month will affect the life of a senior living alone and below the poverty line. Can he tell me how this meagre amount will help them get out of poverty, especially since the 85,000 seniors my colleague mentioned do not pay taxes and therefore cannot benefit from these tax credits? Personally, I do not see how this measly $50 will help get these seniors out of poverty.

The Budget June 13th, 2011

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

I will answer in French. It is important for the federal government to develop rules for urban development. We do not want social housing to become a ghetto. The government should establish social housing policies, and there should be a balance between condos and social housing. The government should invest in a plan with stricter rules for urban development and, for example, the decontamination of certain sites where social housing could be built.

In my riding, refineries have closed down. The government should decontaminate these sites and then build social housing.

The Budget June 13th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the hon. member for her question. I am very interested in the issues of education and youth unemployment. Post-secondary education rates in my riding are amongst the lowest on the island of Montreal. The problem is that the government continues to give loans and grants to students, who then find themselves with debt they cannot repay because they are not able to find work in their field. The NDP is not looking to hand out loans and grants. We want to reduce tuition fees to allow more people to study and find work in an area they love.

In terms of renewable energy, a balance needs to be struck. We need oil now, obviously, but the government is making Quebec and Canada dependent on other countries because we cannot benefit from the profits generated by our own production. We cannot reinvest that money because we must import oil from other countries. We cannot—

The Budget June 13th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

First of all, I wish to congratulate you today on your election as Speaker of the House. It is important to note that you are the youngest Speaker in the history of Canadian politics.Thus, you are a fine representative of this new, younger Parliament.

I am honoured today to thank the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île for the trust they have placed in me. I will always listen to everyone, and I will tirelessly defend their interests each day. I promise in this House to do everything I can to help families, youth, workers and seniors, and to prove that the NDP is there for them and not for big business and the banks, as is the case with this government.

I would also like to acknowledge the work of the outgoing member for my riding. She devoted 17 years to the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île, and I intend on doing the same.

We are all here for the same reasons: our passion for the people of our community and our devotion to serving the interests of our constituents. On May 2, some 4.5 million Canadians expressed their desire for change, to live in a Canada where families come first and where everyone has an equal chance, a Canada that Quebeckers can identify with and that reflects their social and progressive values.

I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to be part of this wave of change that millions of Quebeckers and Canadians were looking for. I accept the mandate that was given to me to represent the interests of families, young people, workers and seniors, to make them a priority, and to criticize the government, which continues to give tax credits to corporations and put the interests of the oil companies ahead of the interests of Canadians. I am committed to working with all the hon. members of the House in order to achieve tangible results because I truly care about the issues affecting the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île and they are the issues we focused on during the election campaign.

A big part of the population in my riding is aging and we must work on preventing seniors from living in poverty. We must offer them affordable housing and we must support them financially to give them a decent standard of living. The budget states that seniors living alone who get a maximum income supplement of $2,000 will receive an additional $600 a year. How can the government claim that a person living below the poverty line can be lifted out of destitution with just $600 more? Again according to the budget, this credit will decrease as their income increases. When a senior living alone gets an annual income supplement of $4,400, they can no longer benefit from the bonus the government is proposing in its 2011-12 budget. It makes no sense. Seniors need and faster and more accessible health care, because they are among the most vulnerable in our society. They also need to have peace of mind and know that they can get the medicine they need.

The budget also includes a number of tax credits, but what good is a tax credit to a person who is not employed or who does not pay tax because of a very low income?

Let us speak about families. Tax credits to promote the participation of children in physical, arts and cultural activities is a good government initiative but one that does not take into account the many people in my riding and throughout Quebec who do not appear to have the means to pay for their children to participate in such activities. How can these families benefit from a tax credit if they do not have the money to pay for their children to participate in such activities? These tax credits also do not take into account the 30% of the Montreal population who paid barely any taxes, if any at all, last year. These families will not benefit from the tax credits proposed by this government.

Families need to have access to family doctors if only to free up the system and waiting rooms. This government could help to improve the Quebec health care system by investing more money so that Quebeckers could then train more workers.

This government's budget does not invest in social housing and does not take into account the reality of thousands of Quebeckers and Canadians.

The government must understand that it is urgent to develop a plan to give families, seniors and everyone access to affordable housing so that they do not have to worry about choosing between paying their rent and feeding their children or themselves. More and more families and seniors are using food banks, which is unacceptable. The government must act now. Why is this government continuing to decrease the taxes of big businesses, oil companies and banks? As a result, billions of dollars that could have been spent on Canadians are lost. Then, the government announces billions of dollars in cuts that directly affect Canadians. That is money that could easily come from the $100 billion in profit that the oil companies make each year.

The government is abandoning millions of unemployed workers and is not really investing in job creation. The budget does not include any plans for job creation. For example, the refinery and petrochemical industries in Quebec are in decline, which is resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs, among other things. This government prefers to export most of its crude oil to the United States. In my riding, the result is the closure of the Shell refinery. In addition to causing the loss of thousands of jobs, this is making us dependent on other countries for our energy, since we are forced to import gasoline from them.

When it comes to the environment, the Conservative government's budget continues to cut millions of dollars from the fight against climate change and from environmental protection. Canada's per capita greenhouse gas emissions are still among the highest in the world. This government's attitude continues to separate it from the international community. In fact, in 2009, a coalition of scientists and politicians lobbied to have Canada kicked out of the Commonwealth because of its deficient environmental policies. The air quality in my riding is the worst on the island of Montreal. My constituents are worried about the environment and their health. The government must take action and must get its priorities in line with those of Quebeckers and Canadians.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has approved the shipping of nuclear waste, specifically waste from nuclear reactors, on the St. Lawrence River. Such shipments could directly affect the people of my riding. The government needs to intervene to prevent the shipping of this waste and instead invest in finding solutions for disposing of the waste near where it is produced.

The government must stop justifying its deficient and non-existent policies by the fact that it now has a majority. I would remind the House that only 40% of Canadians voted for this government. It must be accountable to Canadians and act in their interests, rather than in the interests of the multinationals and banks.

The Environment June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this first opportunity I have to thank the people of La Pointe-de-l'Île for choosing me to represent them in the House of Commons.

I am also rising today to voice my concern about Canada's future, particularly in terms of the environment. This government continues to cut millions of dollars from the fight against climate change and is still refusing to meet its international obligations. Canada's per capita level of greenhouse gas emissions is among the highest in the world.

Even the largest energy company in Canada, Suncor, has described the government's approach as ineffective and has said that this approach will result in increased costs for consumers in the long term. On Monday, this same company called on the government to adopt stricter measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This government's attitude continues to marginalize Canada within the international community because of its poor environmental policies. The government must therefore recognize the urgent need to invest in the fight against climate change rather than granting tax breaks to companies that pollute our environment.