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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for La Pointe-de-l'Île (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2008, with 56% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Rwanda April 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, we were astounded to learn that Victoire Ingabire, who is running in the presidential election scheduled for August, was being held arbitrarily in Rwanda. Despite police harassment, she was trying to get recognition for her party, the FDU, which was founded in exile. More and more, the Rwandan authorities are acting in an authoritarian rather than a democratic way. Canada cannot stand idly by once again.

Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs take advantage of the Governor General's trip to Rwanda to strongly protest this arbitrary detention?

Criminal Code April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by thanking all my colleagues who took part in the debate, but I want to say that palliative care and my bill on the right to die with dignity are not mutually exclusive, but complementary.

I wrote something in 2005, before I learned I had cancer. I wrote this, and I still believe wholeheartedly in it:

Any lucid person facing a very difficult and painful end of life, which they consider degrading, an unfitting end to the life they have led, inconsistent with their condition as a free person, has to be able to decide how they wish to die, including if they want to be aided in that objective.

It is the individual who must choose. It is not society that must choose for the individual. The individual must have the freedom to choose at the end of their life.

The experience of doctors who look after individuals who have been allowed to be helped to die in countries that have passed legislation in this regard is enlightening. One might infer that, knowing that they will be able to get help to die with dignity when they reach the point where their life has definitely become unbearable, it will be easier for people to live fully a painful end of life or a life of extreme limitations because they feel imprisoned in their bodies. As Félix Leclerc reminded us, death is full of life.

I could quote Justice Cory, who also says that section 7 of the charter gives Canadians the constitutional right to life, liberty and security of the person. This provision emphasizes the dignity inherent in human existence. Death is an integral part of life and as such is therefore entitled to the constitutional protection provided by section 7. A person should have the right to choose their own death.

I understand why my colleague's parents made the choice they did. His father was a doctor. It was their choice. Nonetheless, sometimes the end of life comes after a period of extreme suffering and at a time when people can decide they no longer can tolerate their life, their dependence on others and their unending suffering. I have sent hon. members a text a constituent sent me on what it is to suffer and I invite hon. members to read it. People can decide their limits and ask for assistance to die and not to live for another month or two just to suffer more and become more emaciated.

I can tell you that when I wrote that, I did not know what unbearable pain was. Now I do and I have learned that medicine, with all its progress, can only provide help with side effects such as hallucinations or other terrible effects to the body. We have to have the right to choose. I am speaking on behalf of the vulnerable. They are the ones who need this type of legislation the most because only this type of legislation will allow them to be the people they choose to be. There are currently many places where people can die and with all the instruments available to doctors, it is possible to help people die without them having to ask.

A person's right to choose is what is at the heart of this bill. I am asking hon. members to vote in favour of this bill in order that it may be referred to a committee. Then members of the committee could examine what seems—

Business of Supply April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it is not yet 5:30 p.m. and we are losing three minutes of speaking time. Will you take three minutes away from the five short minutes I am given?

Business of Supply April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the motion moved by the Bloc is just a start. Despite everything I am hearing, I hope this motion will pass. Indeed, there have been very many frustrations. However, I would like to remind hon. members that 15 years ago, in a referendum whose results some people did everything in their power to influence as we were to learn later, Quebec came within 54,000 votes of getting sovereignty. Many worked hard on making sure sovereignty would not happen.

I was here during that time. It was a time when we had to be very friendly or else tear our hair out, but it did not come to that.

Instead of wanting to make Quebeckers pay for this lost opportunity later, English Canada could have looked for a solution—unsatisfactory to most Quebeckers, but satisfactory to others perhaps—and certainly could have ensured the survival of our culture. But that was not to be.

Today, they think this story is long forgotten. They are proposing rep by pop with no regard for the rules established at the time of Confederation.

Business of Supply April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to advise you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Saint-Jean.

About two months ago, I organized a lunch meeting in my constituency as I do regularly. It usually takes place on a Sunday. Constituents are invited, not just party members. The topic for discussion at that meeting was the Globe and Mail article at the time that looked at the question of the increase in the number of seats for the three provinces where the population had grown the most.

The participants were extremely interested and extremely shocked at the same time. It must be said that, for Quebec, this is another in a series of irritants that Quebec has been dealing with for some time.

Of course, the apparent recognition of the Quebec nation by the government put a little salve on the wounds that these irritants have caused, but this bill rips open the biggest gash once more. Yes, Canada has finally recognized the Quebec nation. But what does that recognition mean? It means that, in a measure as specific as the number of seats in the House of Commons, Quebec finds itself not only disadvantaged at this point in time, but disadvantaged forever, given that the population increase in the three western provinces shows no sign of slowing down.

For reasons that are easy to understand and to accept, Quebec cannot expect such a rapid growth in its population. The Quebec nation cannot be recognized if that unique situation is not recognized. To do otherwise is to freely admit that the intent was to deceive people, and I use the word deceive advisedly. What is more important than political weight in trying to preserve the French language and culture of Quebec at the federal level?

I listened to the arguments on representation by population. I understand its significance in the history of various countries. I also know, and it must have been repeated today, that the intellectuals who work for the parties and those who teach university students have a different understanding of representation by population than the Conservative party. At the time of Confederation, it was agreed that representation by population did not mean a strict representation based on the population, but a representation based on the population as it was recognized at the time of Confederation.

I want to stress the conditions that make it so that Quebec's population cannot increase as quickly. You know why, as do the members across the way from Quebec. It is necessary, in my humble opinion, to recognize, as the members of the National Assembly of Quebec have done unanimously, that Quebec, whose culture is deeply rooted in its French origins and whose doors have been opened wide to immigrants, still has a serious problem: getting its many immigrants who come from various countries and who have settled in a country next to the United States, whose population overwhelmingly speaks English, to adopt its French-language culture.

We know—and it needs to be stated and recognized today—that in world history and for some time, the dominant language was French, especially in terms of diplomacy. Today, the lingua franca, that used to be French, is said to be English.

Not only are the immigrants arriving in British Columbia and Alberta predisposed to learn English, but they often already speak it because they learned it in their home countries. It is extremely easy for them to integrate, even though we do not agree with Canada's multicultural policy as it tends to lead to ghettos.

But in Quebec, even though Quebeckers are extremely open, this is clearly harder for them. They need to find appropriate ways to help immigrants integrate—I am not saying “assimilate”—into Quebec's culture and learn French. When I say that Quebec has to find ways to do this, I should point out that the government thought Bill 101 was one way to help immigrants integrate. But what happened was that people and parents got together with foundations or wealthy people to take advantage of a provision of Bill 101 that allowed children who had gone to English-language private schools to then be educated in the English public school system, at no cost. People would pay tuition in the English private school system for one, two or three years to ensure that not only one child, but his or her brothers and sisters and their descendants could go to school in English. That is significant.

It means that, to increase its population, Quebec has to attract immigrants that it must try hard to integrate into the French language and culture, but it faces some major obstacles.

Is it normal that despite Quebec's openness to immigration and despite the recent rise in the birth rate that everyone is so happy about, population growth in Quebec is slower? No, but it is not surprising.

I am very sad in one way and very angry in another that we are being forced into this fight, because there is no other way to resolve this issue.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I have not checked recently, but it seems that the situation in Chile has improved significantly because of the educated middle class. Chile has had many years to create its own development tools.

A free trade agreement alone cannot develop an economy if local political, economic and social leaders do not create the tools to develop the economy and improve things for the country.

I will look at what has happened recently, but I am sure that development in Chile came about because of what I would call internal factors.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I think that I am on the right track. Take NAFTA, for example. That free trade agreement also has a chapter 11 like the one in the bill before us. NAFTA also includes Mexico. I went to Mexico and, except for those who produce fruit, which sells very well in the United States, a lot of people had a lot to say about how other parts of Mexico are against NAFTA. They would like to renegotiate a better deal for themselves.

I think that is the principle. Both parties have to benefit.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I said that I was very anxious to speak. I will continue to talk about the general principle of human rights and free trade agreements.

Free trade agreements are signed with an economic goal in mind and they must result in benefits. The free trade agreement with Colombia will essentially favour two groups: mining companies, which, through government help, will have access to Colombian subsoil and the Colombian government, which will receive taxes and so on from these mining companies. Why would they think that Colombians, that everyday people in Colombia, could benefit from this free trade agreement?

They can say that they are concurrently negotiating a human rights agreement. However, negotiating an agreement and taking concrete action to improve the human rights situation are two completely different things.

I was involved in the union movement for a number of years and, like my colleague, I am interested in the social aspects of what is happening in my riding. It is the balance of power that drives the relationship between the workers and the employers. If there is no local balance of power, there needs to be a national or regional balance. If that balance does not exist, the human rights situation will not improve and there will be no unions or laws to protect workers.

I am truly dumbfounded by the debate on this bill. My colleague said that farmers from out west could sell their products—wheat, oats or barley—to Colombia. If Canada were to do that, it should be because Colombians are not able to grow these grains to feed themselves. But, this is supposedly their primary resource.

What will Colombians gain from this agreement? Some might ask me why the government signed this agreement. It signed it because it thought it was in its own best interests and it did not need people's support. Everything I have read clearly shows that the mining companies are the ones who will benefit. They can move in and have, what I believe, is the other kind of free trade agreement.

First there was the FTA, even though the rest of Canada did not want it and had it imposed on them. Nevertheless, that agreement did not affect trade between states. Why not? Because no one could file a complaint without going through the state.

In the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement, which has support from both sides of the House, it is not the state that can lodge a complaint if there is a problem in a mine, but rather the company. The fact that companies can lodge international complaints directly against Colombia without Canada's consent is something new.

When two states have a relationship, they can negotiate to find a balance, but in this case, no one is trying to achieve such a balance.

A company might have expected to make a profit by setting up in a given location because it wanted to use the water from a river, for instance. If it cannot use the river because it is drying up or because farmers are forcing it out, that company could sue Colombia—according to the bill—for the profits it is losing. It makes no sense.

People are saying they want to help Colombia, but this will not help that country.

I invite my hon. colleges who are standing with their parties to take a close look at the balance of power underlying this agreement. It is not about trying to improve things through trade across borders that is beneficial to both parties, even though a free trade agreement normally tries to improve the situation for both parties.

I will close by saying that I read in the report that the Standing Committee on International Trade has expressed countless reservations about this free trade agreement, that it even went to Colombia and unfortunately learned that the government had proposed this free trade agreement before the committee could make any recommendations.

As the members have probably guessed, I do not support the bill.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, am I out of order?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I must say that I have been dying to speak. I am shocked by the comments I have just heard about free trade promoting human rights, and by the Liberal flip-flop on the free trade agreement.

I would like to take a quick look at the past. I remember the reaction in Canada when Brian Mulroney negotiated a free trade agreement between Canada and the United States. Canada did not want a free trade agreement at all, but Quebec wanted one because it was good for Quebeckers. In the end, with the help of Quebec, Mulroney won the election, and he negotiated a free trade agreement with the United States.

Then, Jean Chrétien took power. He promised to do all he could to put an end to the free trade agreement. What did he do? He not only failed to put an end to it, but he also went on to become the greatest proponent of free trade agreements that I have ever seen. This comment was in response to the Liberal flip-flop.

As for human rights, I would like to hear how a free trade agreement could promote human rights. I have heard in this House, from very well-meaning people, that Bill C-2