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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was victims.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Gatineau (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 27% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act April 1st, 2015

The minister mentioned the NRA in his question, but I will ignore that.

There is no doubt that a bill like this does not make the Conservatives totally happy because what they want is for everyone to be able to walk around with a gun. As long as the Conservative government is unable to achieve that goal, they will have to live with their disappointment.

The article that Evan Dyer published in November, which my colleague from Winnipeg North referred to, said that a number of Conservative supporters were disappointed to see that the firearms issue was not moving forward fast enough or far enough. I would be surprised if they showed up in committee and said they were against the bill; I think they would rather say it did not go far enough. We have seen others say that in some committees.

That being said, there are a few words and clauses to consider, such as “reducing domestic violence”. The Conservatives keep saying that if something is good, then the NDP will vote against it. However, they are leaving out other extremely dangerous aspects of the issue, or things that might be good in and of themselves, but would have an impact on small communities that could create certain problems.

The minister does not want to listen to us in this debate. Therefore, if he would assure me that he will listen to what will be said in committee and that we will be able to eliminate the irritants, we might see excellent results after the bill is studied in committee.

In any case, I will wait with a great deal of optimism and little hope, as I already said, for the bill to be studied in committee.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I was taken aback when the minister mentioned the NRA in his question.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is an excellent question. When I was talking about different trends that are worrying me, and using my expertise as justice critic for the official opposition, that is the benefit in which I would have hoped the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness would have been interested. It is one thing to know that people will vote for or against; it is another thing to know why. There are multiple reasons. We have the reasons of our public security critic, and there are other considerations and different aspects of other members. I have colleagues who are really involved with first nations. I am not saying that I am not involved with first nations, but they are more predominant in their ridings. They are acutely aware of their needs, and so on. Mine is justice and looking at different bills and seeing the similarities in this bill with some of the bills that I have to analyze and discuss at the justice committee, such as the fact that we are giving more and more powers to politicians that we used to give to the experts such as the police.

Even if I were the minister, I would not want that power. We should leave it in the hands of the specialists. We see that in Bill C-53 with the “life means life” thing, we would give the same Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness the possibility to decide if somebody would get out or not. Thank God it will not happen under him. There is a danger there. He wanted something precise with Bill S-2. I hope he reads it, because it is a sleeper bill that would have an impact on all of these bills.

The Conservatives know what they are doing. They are undermining democracy, and that is a danger. If we do not stand up in our place to go against that, one day we will have nothing to do, and we will all stay home because we do not need to vote or do anything. Who cares?

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member's question is so vague and general that he probably did not listen very closely to my speech. One of the problems I see with the bill is the proposed regulation or the process for deciding what kind of weapons will be deregulated.

I am not a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, but if I were, that would be one part of the bill that I would definitely take a very close look at.

My general objection is to the way the government operates when it comes to firearms. It seems to want to divide us—us versus them—as though it were impossible for us to agree on certain aspects.

There are a few Conservative MPs in the Toronto area, but I doubt there will be many left come October 2015. People there have the same concerns about what is going on with firearms as my Toronto colleagues.

We have rural ridings in Quebec too, believe it or not. I do not even need to go to rural ridings, because there is a big hunting community in Gatineau. Those people bring me moose steak. Thank goodness they do not bring me too much because I would have to report that to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner. That being said, it is extraordinary, and this affects all communities, so they really should stop trying to divide us.

If these kinds of remarks mean nothing to the member, it is no wonder that Parliament has run amok. The Conservatives are not listening to the message that Canadians are sending. For them, it is better to divide people in order to reign more effectively. However, that does not create a strong democracy, and we have no right to go around the world giving lessons on democracy.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, to follow the act of the member for Yorkton—Melville is going to be quite the challenge for me, that is for sure.

Nonetheless, I will do my best.

Since arriving in the House during the current Parliament, I have been upset at how the issue of firearms has been handled, since this topic, which is very important to the members of all the parties in the House, often affects public safety and a part of the population that our friends across the way like to call the “law-abiding hunters of this world”, as though we would not call them that.

The Conservatives also like to claim that the members of the official opposition are against hunters and anything even remotely related to a weapon. As the official opposition justice critic, and like my colleague who talked about public safety and all my NDP colleagues, I think it is important to take this fiercely partisan attitude out of this debate. Often, the way the Conservatives behave is the reason why we cannot give them our support.

For years, they used the gun registry to try to divide Canadians, classifying them as either rural or urban and either hunters or criminals. That is a problem. Other Canadians are also very sensitive to what has happened to the people of Quebec. I was born in Quebec. The massacre at the École polytechnique is part of our daily lives and we are reminded of it every year, especially through stories from parents, victims, friends and everyone who suffered as a result of that terrible tragedy. We also went through the horrific ordeal at Dawson College. As for the events of October 22 that occurred right here, as awful as that experience was, we cannot forget the gunman who entered the National Assembly many years ago and just started shooting.

This is all part of a collective psyche that is very sensitive to the issue of weapons. When a government tries to use something as fundamentally personal for so many people every time it introduces a bill or does some fundraising, it can be hard to see those bills as having much merit. We know that they are under a lot of pressure, since they created it themselves. Let us not kid ourselves.

Not long ago, someone told me that, at the time, even the Prime Minister voted in favour of the firearms registry. There comes a time when people forget the past. That is unfortunate, because the government tends to have a way of ensuring that history repeats itself and of saying absolutely unbelievable things.

Let us remember the events that led to the creation of this registry. Some members will say that we are not here to talk about the registry, but I will explain the connection from start to finish.

The tragedy at École Polytechnique occurred in the 1990s. I was not a member of the House at that time, but as a Quebecker and a Canadian who witnessed that terrible tragedy, I saw politicians clamouring to be the first to respond and put something in place.

Did this registry, which was created by the Liberals, make sense and was it well built? As the member for Yorkton—Melville said, that is certainly the impression people were given. That impression is certainly strengthened by some of the arguments of the members opposite, who have always been happy to say that those who established the registry wanted to criminalize hunters. I have always said that hunters were the innocent victims of the events of the 1990s.

When it comes to an issue such as this, which is so emotional for so many people and so personal for others who live in communities that may not be like the urban area of Gatineau, we need to take a deep breath and examine the situation.

With all due respect for the people and some of my colleagues who like to say that we are opposed to this or that, I really enjoy sitting down with the people of the Gatineau Fish and Game Club. As I already told someone, if you think I put on this weight eating tofu, there's a problem somewhere. I have nothing against meat or hunting.

However, I will always promote public safety. We owe it to Canadians. This government makes a point of boasting about public safety bills at every turn and says that, on this side, we are far too soft and that we do not want to adopt the tough measures that are needed. However, the government brings in all kinds of measures and tries, among other things—I am coming back to the registry—to destroy data that a government that is a partner in the federation had asked for.

The intended result was that the federal government would no longer need the data and that there would be no further criminalization under the Criminal Code. But it took some narrow-minded people and a certain meanness to say that if they were not going to take the data, then we could not have it. That is roughly what happened. The Supreme Court told the government that they had the legal right to do it. Great. However, the government made a political choice and will pay for it. The ruling clearly stated that the federal government made the decision only to harm the provinces. As I have often said, if we are proud to say in the House that the government made a decision that harms a partner of federation, there is a serious problem with Canadian federalism. That is unfortunate.

That said, with respect to Bill C-42, under the leadership of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety, we always hear the same kinds of comments from this Conservative federal government and we see that they go through periods of requesting funding from their supporters and from interest groups. These are obviously valid groups. I have nothing against the gun lobby. That is their job. However, it is our job as parliamentarians to not allow ourselves to be pushed around simply because they enjoy it. I will sit down with any lobby, regardless of the side, including those who support not allowing anyone to own a gun under any circumstances. I will listen to what they have to say and I will try to make a decision that makes sense and that has the desired outcome.

We have problems at customs when people cross our borders. We have black markets for guns and all kinds of things. I am not talking about hunters. I am talking about organized crime groups that bring a huge number of weapons into the country. While we argue over the details, we miss doing the important things. Budgets for these crime-fighting measures are being cut.

The government needs to stop laying it on thick and claiming that all we want to do is to prevent hunters, sport shooters and collectors from owning guns and from being able to enjoy them. Similarly, the first nations have inherent rights with respect to hunting and fishing. No one can take those away from them, although some measures in Bill C-42 make me doubt that. This will create some serious problems for the first nations and could undermine some of their inherent rights.

We did not hear many on the Conservative side rise to object to these kinds of things and these kinds of situations. All they do is say that Bill C-42 must be wonderful because it is a government bill. Every time I speak to a bill I always find it amusing to look at the short title. The Conservative Party must pay someone to sit there and come up with bill titles. They have a lot of imagination, and often even more imagination in French than in English. It is rather enlightening when you look at Bill C-42. The English version of the bill states:

“This Act may be cited as the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act.”

These words please the rest of Canada, in the ridings of my friends across the aisle, and those of many of my colleagues, too, outside of urban centres. The French title is more likely to please Quebeckers: Loi visant la délivrance simple et sécuritaire des permis d'armes à feu. The French does not use the expression “common sense” and instead refers to safety. This argument might be more successful in Quebec. Sometimes I think the problem with the Conservatives is that the devil is always in the details. As my parents always told me when I was a kid, when someone cries wolf too many times, eventually no one will believe them.

Unfortunately, that is more or less what is happening right now with the federal Conservative government's so-called law and order agenda, or with public safety, or with their haste to send our men and women into a war in Iraq and Syria. The Conservatives have contradicted themselves so many times now that no one is going to believe them any more. When we do not believe them, we cannot stand here and agree with something that does not make any sense.

I have no problem with getting rid of unnecessary paperwork for someone who has a hunting rifle that is used only for hunting and is stored properly. However, other bills from the backbenches seek to change the storage rules. When we add all that up, in an effort to say things to try to please everybody, the Prime Minister seems to be saying that everyone within 100 or 60 kilometres of a major centre should have a gun. He might be on board with that, but I do not think that that is what Canadians want.

That being said, I do not want to stop people who want to lawfully use their rifle for hunting, sport or target practice from doing so. I attend cadet ceremonies and I am extremely proud of Gatineau's cadets when I see them win shooting competitions. I do not think that is due to Nintendo's Duck Hunt. The government has to stop making fun of people for wanting to be careful and make sure that the measures we are adopting do what they are supposed to do.

This bill contains some measures that are cause for concern. Perhaps it was poorly thought out by the Conservatives. I am not certain that they will be able to fix it in committee. That does not seem to be one of the strengths of the Conservatives, or at least of the Conservative members who sit on the committee. With all due respect for the ministers, given the number of times that parliamentary secretaries have told me that they do what they are told, there is no longer any doubt in my mind. I know very well that they have been given their orders, and that they are doing what the powers above have asked them to do in committee. They even tell us, out in the hall, that they think that what we are saying makes sense but that, unfortunately, they cannot approve it. The ministers opposite should not come here and tell us to our faces that they let the committee members do their job. We are trying and we will continue to try to do our job until the end of this Parliament. We are the party of hope, optimism and love. I am still optimistic, but I have had to put hope on hold.

One problematic aspect of this bill is training, and the committee will have to take a close look at what that means for people who live in rural areas where there might not be any trainers. I also hope that some first nations witnesses will be able to share their opinions on Bill C-42 with the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

To me, the most problematic part of the bill is the regulatory aspect. I do not claim to be an expert on firearms. Obviously, I do not want dangerous weapons to be available to criminals, but as I was saying earlier, I have no problem with hunters, sport shooters and collectors having guns, as long as they are using them properly. That being said, I think the regulatory aspect is quite problematic.

As we realized at the Standing Committee on Justice, bills are often passed hastily. I am not necessarily talking about the time we spend debating here. What I mean is that the Conservatives have come up with so many bills in some areas, such as justice and public safety, that people at the Department of Justice do not have time to analyze all of the details. I am not saying they are not doing a good job, but there is a limit. If I were a legal adviser and I had 52 files to work on in one week, no matter how good I was, I would have a hard time handling that workload. These people are on a mission.

This week, I asked them if there might be a contradiction between the “Life means life” bill, Bill C-587, and Bill C-53, which would eliminate parole before 40 years. They had to admit that could obviously cause some problems in court.

It is the same thing here. There are many bills that deal with firearms, but I encourage my colleagues in the House to focus on Bill S-2, because it will completely change the way that regulations are enacted. I call it the sleeper bill of this legislature. It seems harmless, but it has serious consequences. Without us even knowing, the government could change the regulations through a minister or delegated authority. I am not saying that that is what is going to happen, but it is a possibility. No one can answer me when I ask whether Bill S-2 might conflict with Bill C-42 with regard to the classification of firearms.

That is what concerns me the most. This would not be the case if we had a reasonable and sensible government that was acting in the interest of public safety. However, this government is easily swayed by lobbying efforts. Earlier, my colleague, the public safety critic, asked the Minister of Public Safety whether there was deal between the government and the firearms lobby that would explain why the firearms lobby did not attend the committee meetings on Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015.

The Conservative member who spoke before me said that this bill has been around a long time. That is strange because we were supposed to debate it on October 23. I was studying this bill when the events occurred on Parliament Hill. The Conservatives are claiming that this bill enhances public safety. The minister says that it is extraordinary. That is ironic because if Bill C-42 is so good for public safety, then it would have been extraordinary if the government had announced, the day after the shooting, that as a good and responsible government, it was letting us debate it and pass it right away.

However, the Conservatives knew very well that this bill had some serious flaws. They used these events to make it more accessible to Canadians, knowing that it could be worrisome for them. Furthermore, since the Conservatives only work based on polls, they withdrew the bill and then brought it back one month later, only to shut down debate after the minister, our critic and the critic from the third party had a chance to speak.

Today, on April 1—this is no April Fool's joke—the Conservatives have brought this bill back and they have the gall to tell us that it has been languishing for six months. That is not our fault. They are the ones who let it languish. There is no real urgency.

This bill has a number of worrisome elements. I know it works to their advantage so it is hard for them to let go of it. They must have been disappointed when the registry was abolished because it was no longer profitable. However, now they have this, so they can continue and say that the member for Gatineau is against hunters. That is not true. I am sick of hearing such nonsense.

Can we be adults here and simply ensure that the right guns are in the hands of the right people? As justice critic for the official opposition I never claimed that the firearms registry would have prevented the crime at the École Polytechnique.

That is not even what police forces came to tell us. All they said was that it helped them during investigations. It gave them a sense of security if they had information—if not some assurance—that firearms might be located somewhere. They acted differently as a result.

With all of that information, we should be able to implement measures that are good for public safety, not for Conservative party funding.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act April 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I found some of the minister's comments to be shocking.

If I understand correctly, this is the 93rd time allocation motion. By the way, it is rather ironic that we end up talking about a time allocation motion after an hon. member was trying to have the floor. I see that democracy is alive and well in Canada.

According to the minister, the reason for this 93rd time allocation motion is that he knows where the parties stand on this issue. The idea of having 308 members in the House, who represent places all across Canada and want to express an opinion on a bill, is immaterial to the minister. The important thing is to know a party's position. The rest does not help him in the least. In any event, he is not concerned about what people think.

This is precisely what I want to ask the minister. I find this somewhat troubling. The bill that only two opposition members were given the time to debate was supposed to be introduced in the House on October 23. If it is such a good safety bill, then why did the government withdraw it the day after the events that took place on Parliament Hill?

Public Safety March 31st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, where there is a will, there is a way. That is what the Supreme Court was saying. If the Conservatives wanted to, then they could, but they would rather focus on their ideology. Yesterday, 106 elected representatives from across Quebec all spoke out against the Conservatives' determination to destroy the Quebec data in the registry. That goes against the will of Quebec, which has been clear: these data are important to public safety.

Will the Conservatives set aside their ideological stubbornness, listen to Quebec's elected representatives and give them the data that Quebec taxpayers helped pay for? Where is the Prime Minister's open federalism?

Public Safety March 31st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, members of the National Assembly of Quebec unanimously adopted a motion calling on the Conservative Prime Minister to immediately transfer the firearms registry data pertaining to Quebec to the Government of Quebec. Let us not forget that Quebec taxpayers helped pay for that data.

Will the Conservative government finally show some common sense, respect the unanimous decision of the National Assembly and give Quebec the registry data?

Firearms Registry March 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, to put judges in a position to accept doing certain things illegally?

On another note, in a split five-four decision, the Supreme Court ruled this morning that the federal government could destroy the firearms registry data. The judges are unanimous that this destruction is a political decision.

The judges in the minority felt that the federal government was deliberately trying to hurt the provinces by seeking to destroy the data. I would not be proud of that. Quebec has been clear: the data are important to public safety.

Will the Conservative government hand over the registry data to Quebec and show some open federalism—

Public Safety March 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we have been down this road before.

A badly drafted bill from the Conservatives that threatens the charter is just going to land the government in court. The Canadian Bar Association said it best. Bill C-51 is clearly unconstitutional.

Why has the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada lent his support to such a flawed and dangerous piece of legislation when it is his job to ensure that the Constitution is respected?