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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

The Budget April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my question for my colleague is about health care in Canada.

We have a new normal: an aging population. All of the experts agree that the health care system as it is now is not ready to handle that. Why then are the Conservatives planning to cut transfers to the provinces, which are already struggling and looking to the federal government for leadership? How can the member come here and defend a budget that will balance the books at the expense of our seniors and people who want adequate, accessible health care?

At this point, the budget includes $36 billion less for health care. How can the member balance the books at the expense of people who need health care?

The Budget April 22nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is like David Copperfield. He made a surplus appear. Analysts are calling this creative accounting, a smokescreen, really.

Canadians are not fools. They know that the Conservatives have mismanaged our economy and that we have lost 400,000 well-paying jobs since the Conservatives came to power. Canadians know that this government put all its eggs in one barrel of oil.

Instead of proposing measures to help middle-class families, who are finding it more and more difficult to make ends meet, the Conservatives insist on helping their friends, the well-off and the CEOs, those who do not need help.

Canadians deserve better. In October, they can choose the only party that fights for them in good times and in bad: the NDP.

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this is all very interesting, and I would like to thank my colleague for her speech.

I talked about this in my speech. The basic problem is clear. Everyone says so. I do not understand why the Conservatives do not get it. CSC has produced a number of reports about how inmates with mental health issues make up close to 50% of Canada's federal prison population.

Right now, there is no plan, no budget, no system to adapt the programs and support services available. Bill C-12 is a drop in the bucket compared to everything that needs to be done.

Can my colleague tell us about some of her solutions to this problem?

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, that is a relatively broad and very complex question. The justice system and the prison system form a whole. For example, mandatory minimum sentences will send people to jail and, unfortunately, those people often have mental health or addiction problems. With the increase in mandatory minimum sentences, we have seen an increase in people suffering from mental health and addiction problems. What is being done about this? The Conservatives' response is to write into the conditional release act that inmates do not have the right to take drugs. That is really an insult to our intelligence. It will not solve the problem.

To solve the problem the government must invest in systems and an intervention plan. For instance, when people go to jail, they should be diagnosed and receive tailored services; we need to know what we are dealing with. Correctional officers currently do not have the resources or the capacity to provide services to inmates. Therefore, not only are correctional officers at risk, but so are inmates. There is more violence.

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

It is fundamental. All the experts agree that the source of the problem is the fact that nearly half the people in our federal institutions have mental health problems. What is more, most of these people also have substance abuse problems.

We have to provide correctional officers with resources to offer programs and support to help people overcome their addictions, so that when these people are released one day, they can return to society in a positive way.

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be able to rise today to discuss Bill C-12.I would also like to respond to a few comments by my honourable colleague fromWinnipeg-Centre, who talked about co-operation between the Liberal party and the provinces.

In 1995, the Liberal federal government decided to cut millions of dollars in transfer payments to the provinces in order to balance its budget. That is exactly what the Conservatives are doing. In matters of federal-provincial co-operation, therefore, I am not sure we can count on the Liberals to work with the provinces and offer more services to Canadians and to Quebeckers.

We are talking here about a bill that my Conservative colleagues consider crucially important. In general terms, the bill seeks to introduce a practice that is already in common use. Some government members would like to tell Canadians that this bill is going to work miracles, but that is untrue. This bill merely adds to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act the possibility for the Parole Board to base its decisions respecting parole eligibility on positive drug tests or the refusal to provide a sample.

Yet the board has been doing that for years. Writing it into law is a good objective, but I doubt very much whether this bill will succeed in eliminating drugs from our prisons, as the Conservatives claim. Are they implying that there is a problem with the board itself? That is another question. However, this bill covers only a page and a half. Accordingly, as far as details are concerned, they will get back to you.

The bill is therefore misleading, because it will not do much to eliminate drugs in the correctional system. The solution it proposes is a practice that has been carried out for years, and unfortunately has not solved the problem. I therefore do not see how writing it into law will make it possible to solve mental health problems and eliminate drugs from our federal penitentiaries.

In my speech, I will be giving some ideas for a solution, but I will also raise a few priorities that the Conservatives refuse to consider, preferring to invest elsewhere and put money in the pockets of the wealthiest or the large corporations.

All the witnesses who spoke in committee told us that the bill would have little or no effect on drug use in prisons. We know that the government is using this legislation to cater to the wishes of its electoral base or do some election campaigning, instead of proposing real solutions to a real problem.

The situation is very different in our federal prisons. In connection with the study we are concluding in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Correctional Investigator of Canada came to tell us that over 45% of the federal prison population is dealing with mental health or neurological problems. That is nearly 50% of the population.

In general, unfortunately, these people use drugs. Therefore, is requiring them to take a urine test in order to be eligible for parole going to solve problems at the source, including their mental health disorders? I repeat that nearly 50%, not just 1% or 5%, of all offenders in federal institutions have mental health problems.

We have a problem here and Bill C-12 will do absolutely nothing to help these people. The bill offers them no tangible support. Instead, it cuts the budgets for programs to treat addiction and to provide support for people with mental health problems.

However, they say that enshrining in legislation that someone will or will not be eligible for parole is going to prevent that individual from taking drugs. That is ridiculous. I will give an example: many of my colleagues here have children. When you want a child not to do something, you educate the child, you offer them support, and you talk to them. You do not leave the child with no support and then tell them that unfortunately they have made a mistake and it is their problem. That is not how you solve a problem at its root. If we do that, we have failed in our role as legislators and as a society: to help the most vulnerable people, for example, people who unfortunately have mental health problems or neurological problems.

This is very interesting because the mistaken perspective adopted by the Conservative government when it comes to public safety has multiplied the prison sentences imposed on people with addiction or mental health problems, for example, through mandatory minimum sentencing. I will come back to this later in my speech. Many individuals who are addicts or are dealing with mental health problems find themselves in prisons. The Correctional Investigator of Canada has told us that the correctional service unfortunately can no longer offer specialized services tailored to these people because the Correctional Service of Canada does not necessarily have the resources to detect and diagnose these problems.

At the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we are doing a study on FASD, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. There are no precise statistics because these individuals cannot be diagnosed, but for the moment it is said that they represent about 5% of the federal prison population. According to testimony we have heard at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, 55% of people who have problems caused by fetal alcohol exposure have addiction problems. What is specific to FASD is that these people have a low capacity for understanding the consequences of their actions, a low capacity for analyzing situations and a low capacity for learning from their mistakes. It has been proven that these people should not be in the prison system because they are not necessarily responsible for their situation. What do we do with these people? Is Bill C-12 going to help them? Is the fact that the government has decided to put it in the bill that they will or will not be eligible for parole going to help them? No. On its face, these people will not receive the help and support they need to overcome their addiction problems.

I would like to talk about the fact that the Conservatives have never acted on the many reports from the CSC in 2006 and 2011 and from the Correctional Investigator of Canada in 2008. Those reports could be used, for example, to tackle the problem of gangs in prisons. The Conservatives are closing down prisons and there is double-bunking in the cells. It has been shown that this leads to more crime and more gang activity, and so to more drug trafficking.

To solve the drug problem at the source, we have to offer support to people who are incarcerated and to correctional officers, so that they are able to do their job properly.

Ethics April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the government has a duty to comply with constitutional requirements when appointing senators.

The parliamentary secretary told the press that it was up to the Senate to follow the rules, but that is not true. The Prime Minister is responsible for ensuring that constitutional rules are followed.

Why did he not follow them?

Ethics April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, if there was one member of the Conservative caucus who was popular, it was Mike Duffy, who was so popular in fact that he received a $90,000 cheque from the Prime Minister's chief of staff to cover up his bogus expense claims.

Some 74 Conservative MPs benefited from Mike Duffy's travel privileges when the senator participated in their fundraising events. The Prime Minister even personally thanked him, saying that he was his hardest working appointment ever.

What was it about Mike Duffy's work that the Prime Minister loved so much?

Access to Information April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in fact, what the minister refuses to say is that responses to information requests are of poor quality and very late.

The Information Commissioner was clear: “Although the Act was intended to shine a light on government decisions, it has become a shield against transparency and has encouraged a culture of delay.”

In 2006, the Conservatives promised Canadians more transparency and a reform of the act.

Is the minister not ashamed of breaking his own promises and maintaining a culture of delay?

Access to Information March 31st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Information Commissioner's report confirms what the NDP has been saying for years: the access to information system is outdated and ineffective.

The Conservatives campaigned on transparency and accountability. However, once in power, they voted against the NDP's Bill C-567, which would have given the commissioner the tools needed to expose government corruption.

Will the Conservatives finally listen to the commissioner and the NDP and strengthen the Access to Information Act?