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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for LaSalle—Émard (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Pensions June 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have some good news: Canadians are living Ionger. Is that not great?

Unfortunately, though, companies and governments are not keeping their promises. They are slashing pension funds through mismanagement, such as what happened to the Canadian Commercial Workers Industry pension plan and the Nortel pension fund.

Retirees in my community are negatively impacted by these cutbacks. We owe it to the workers who invested in these pension plans to provide them with a comfortable retirement. When will the government enhance the Canada pension plan to compensate for the carelessness of the private pension funds?

Unemployment Rate June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 585, which was moved by my colleague from Saint-Lambert. This initiative calls on the government to implement concrete measures to stimulate the manufacturing sector and support our small and medium-sized businesses.

The motion calls on the government to immediately reduce the tax rate for small and medium-sized businesses from 11% to 9%, establish an innovation tax credit, extend the accelerated capital cost allowance by two years and improve access to job training.

The proposals in this motion are part of the New Democratic Party's economic strategy to strengthen our small and medium-sized businesses so we can reduce the worrisome unemployment rate in Canada and improve employment quality, which is at a 25-year low.

We are proposing measures that focus on SMEs because Canada is a country of entrepreneurs, where small and medium-sized businesses have always been one of the key pillars of our economic system. In Canada, 99.8% of businesses are SMEs, and 98% of them have fewer than 100 employees. They generate 40% of our annual GDP and provide 7.7 million jobs.

The entrepreneurial sector is just as important in my riding of LaSalle—Émard, where 29% of our firms and businesses are considered SMEs. Furthermore, according to Statistics Canada's Business Register, 71% of the small businesses in Lasalle employ fewer than 10 workers. They could even be described as micro-enterprises.

Following the decline of the manufacturing sector, which has affected my riding in recent decades, most SMEs now work in the services sector, particularly in retail, transportation and warehousing.

However, like most Canadians, SMEs are also struggling to make ends meet and are not operating under favourable conditions to ensure their survival. Constant changes to federal programs only present further obstacles for businesses that want to take advantage of those programs, and the lack of resources to comply with regulatory requirements only adds to the red tape that business owners have to deal with.

Another problem that exists in Quebec and across Canada is the shortage of entrepreneurial renewal. Several SMEs could be forced to shut down or move, putting many employees out of work. The services sector is especially vulnerable, since it is very competitive and sensitive to the ups and downs of the Canadian dollar and the ever-changing consumer demand.

Need I remind the House that in recent decades, over 400,000 well paying, stable jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector and that 1.3 million Canadians are currently unemployed? The situation is also troubling in my riding, where the unemployment rate is 8.2%, and 15% among young people.

Over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to meet with many store and small-business owners in LaSalle—Émard who told me about their struggles to remain financially healthy, maintain jobs and remain competitive in the current economic climate.

I also met with dozens of men and women who struggle to find work, even though they have skills and degrees, and I met with people who can only find part-time, contract, unstable and low-paying jobs. It is often young people and women who have to take these jobs. Our constituents deserve better. They deserve stable, good-quality jobs with fair compensation.

Unfortunately, the quality of the Canadian job market is at an all-time low. According to the CIBC Employment Quality Index, which measures employment quality in terms of compensation and in terms of the distribution of full- and part-time jobs, the decline in employment quality in Canada is structural.

This is a result of the increase in part-time jobs and the rapid growth in low-paying full-time jobs. By way of example, the study shows that last year the number of low-paying jobs increased twice as fast as the number of high-paying jobs.

We have a responsibility to respond to this situation and adopt measures that will stimulate the manufacturing sector and small and medium-sized enterprises, which have traditionally created good jobs. We must support businesses here that create jobs here at home. We must ensure that we have the right conditions to guarantee their success and sustainability. Through careful policies and its purchasing power, the government is in a position to support strategic sectors for Canada, such as the aerospace industry, high tech industries and green technology businesses specializing in the development of renewable energy and climate change adaptation. The greater Montreal area already has interesting industrial clusters in these business areas, including major players that buy from local and dynamic SMEs.

This is what the NDP leader said last week during his speech to the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal:

Montreal's economy, like that of Quebec and Canada, is made up mostly of small and medium-sized enterprises.

...

...we believe in science, research and development and especially in investing responsibly in finding solutions....

Our SMEs are the key to putting the Canadian economy on the right track and creating good jobs.

I want to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Lambert for this initiative and I invite all members of the House to support this motion.

Finally, to the young people and entrepreneurs in my riding, I want to reaffirm my support for this motion, which seeks to create the conditions that will help our SMEs recover and that will create good, well-paying jobs now and in the future.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his speech. I also want to clarify that, in fact, I support establishing the minimum age for marriage at 16, as well as criminal sanctions against those who perform a marriage ceremony in the case of early forced marriages.

To illustrate the problem I have with what the Conservative member just said, I will use the example of a 14-year-old girl who is the victim of a forced marriage. Under the Conservative bill, she would have to report her family, her father, her mother, her brothers and sisters. How can a 14-year-old girl be expected to do that, knowing that her entire family will be convicted? It makes no sense. That young girl would not be able to do that. What will happen, then? Forced marriages will happen in secret. If we are saying that forced marriages are illegal, let us make sure that those who perform those marriages are punished.

I would like to hear my colleague comment on the unfortunate consequences this bill will have for victims.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what the quotation says is that all violence against women is serious and barbaric. Nowhere does it say that we must target particular communities in the short title of a bill. That is totally racist and discriminatory.

All violence against women must be excluded from our modern societies; that is not the issue. It is the use of a title that targets communities and divides Canada that is problematic. We must absolutely address the issue of violence against women, whatever it may be.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments.

In fact, we do not need to keep reinventing the wheel. There are front-line workers who work with the groups in question and have already started to look for solutions. However, legislators are not listening to those groups. There has been no consultation.

As my colleague demonstrated so well, violence against women is often committed by intimate partners or family members. It is therefore very difficult to report them. There needs to be a support group in order to prevent this type of violence. We have to encourage intervention and prevention and designate a safe place where these people can take refuge and explain their situations, so that together, we can find well-thought-out solutions.

However, we have to invest in these organizations in order to help them. They are already working very closely with people who might become victims. We have to do prevention work in a conciliatory manner.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is with great indignation that I rise today to debate Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, which, I would remind the House, came from the Senate.

I refuse to use the short title the Conservatives gave this bill, which they have used repeatedly at multiple press conferences, as well as in quotations from many cabinet ministers, because, frankly, the short title is racist and discriminatory.

Ms. Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, in testimony to the status of women committee, stated:

lt is dehumanizing and degrading to label certain forms of violence as barbaric when all of it is so. Why are some politicians labelling some practices as barbaric and linking it with immigrants only?

Let us look at the intentions of Bill S-7: it makes polygamy grounds for inadmissibility to Canada; it sets the minimum age for marriage at 16; it restricts the defence of provocation to indictable offences; and it creates new offences and a recognizance to keep the peace related to forced or underage marriage.

I will show not only that Bill S-7 is largely unnecessary, but also that some of its provisions will have negative consequences for victims.

First, polygamy is prohibited under the Criminal Code and has been illegal in Canada since 1890. Polygamy is not a recognized form of marriage for people wishing to immigrate to Canada.

According to the Library of Parliament's legislative summary, there appear to be no statistics as to how often immigration—despite these prohibitions—is used to facilitate the reunion of polygamous families in Canada.

What is more, there is no empirical evidence on the extent to which immigrants from countries where polygamy is legal or culturally accepted have formed polygamous families in Canada.

Professor Rupaleem Bhuyan, from the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, adds that Bill S-7 could have negative consequences for the victims of polygamy and their family. He said:

I am most concerned with how this bill increases discretionary powers among immigration officers to deem inadmissible anyone who is perceived to be practising polygamy. The low burden of proof may lead to racist discrimination against immigrants from particular regions of the world who are considered undesirable. This provision would also put women who are spouses of polygamous men at risk of being deported or being separated from their children.

We need to recognize from the outset that forced marriage is a form of violence and that these types of marriages are wrong. The requirements of free and informed consent are already included in the Quebec Civil Code and common law.

The Canadian Criminal Code already provides adequate recourse in cases of forced marriage before and after the marriage, as well as in cases of travelling with a minor with the intention of forcing that minor to marry.

Bill S-7 adds nothing but provisions that could create many undesirable consequences, such as increased social pressure on the victims and added danger for the victims by isolating them and removing their ability to speak out for fear of reprisal.

Naila Butt, of the Social Services Network, summarized the situation this way, and I quote:

Criminalization of forced marriage, without the much needed institutional support for victims, would only further alienate and harm those facing forced marriage and gender-based violence, with the added insult of being stigmatized that they come from barbaric cultures.

Members of a responsible government must base their laws on evidence, which is not the case with this bill. They must first consult stakeholders, civil society, victims and victim advocacy groups. It is their duty to consult on the best way to approach a problem in order to find the right solution that will achieve the intended result. That is obviously not what happened here.

A bill must absolutely be useful and not have a negative impact on the victims, in other words, it must not make them more vulnerable and must not further victimize them, which is unfortunately not the case here. Bill S-7 is ill conceived and remarkably does not meet any of the criteria for good evidence-based legislation and the search for appropriate solutions to a problem. It speaks only to the Conservative government's ideology.

Even after it was studied in committee, Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration immediately declared that he would not consider any amendments to the bill. Even though the vast majority of witnesses expressed serious concerns about this legislation, no amendments were retained. One witness who appeared before this committee said that Bill S-7 was the wrong way to address these problems. I completely agree, and that is why I am vehemently opposed to this bill. I do, however, support the NDP's motion, which shows how a responsible New Democrat government would address violence against women. This motion also reflects the wishes of many agencies that work tirelessly to combat violence against women with very little support from the current government. The motion states:

That, in the opinion of the House, forced marriages are a crime that constitutes violence against women and consequently, the government should: (a) strongly condemn the practice; (b) increase funding to organizations working with potential or actual victims; (c) consult with women, communities, organizations, and experts to form a true picture of the issue and to identify the best ways to address it; (d) allow women with conditional permanent resident status to remain in Canada if their partners are deported due to polygamy or forced marriage; (e) invest in information programs tailored to immigrant women; (f) develop culturally appropriate training programs for service providers dealing with immigrant women such as the police and social workers, as well as officers of the Canada Border Service Agency and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration; (g) restore funding to Status of Women Canada; and (h) implement the NDP's national plan for a strategy to address violence against women.

That is how an NDP government would tackle the problem of violence against women. We will finally implement well-thought-out, long-term solutions in concert with the organizations that are working to eliminate this scourge.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech, because I think he really set the record straight.

If we are serious about wanting to tackle violence against women, we need to be wiser in our approach. The bill tackles some types of violence against women in ways that are not at all wise.

Many of the practices that have been denounced are already covered by the Criminal Code. In reality, this bill is meant to target and divide Canadians on an extremely serious issue: violence against women.

I would like my colleague to comment on that.

Petitions June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the riding of LaSalle—Émard runs along the St. Lawrence River, an important part of our natural and historic heritage. It is also where we find the Lachine canal and rapids.

The signatories to the petition I am presenting support the creation of a national urban park in Montreal to celebrate the 375th anniversary of the founding of Montreal, the 150th anniversary of Confederation and the 80th anniversary of the Île aux Herons Migratory Bird Sanctuary, as well as the sites near the St. Lawrence, such as the Lachine rapids park. These sites have historical significance in relation to the founding of Montreal.

The petitioners are calling for the creation of a national urban park in Montreal.

Citizenship and Immigration June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on March 6, during a citizenship ceremony, a 16-year-old boy from a LaSalle family was unjustly denied his citizenship certificate as he was swearing the oath. An unidentified man arbitrarily decided that the young man had not sworn the oath even though the September 2011 directive stipulating that a candidate had to be seen swearing the oath was removed following Judge Boswell's ruling. The family was a victim of the discriminatory abuses instituted by Conservative ministers of citizenship and immigration and applied capriciously during citizenship ceremonies.

I am asking the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to make reparations to the family by apologizing formally in writing no later than June 23, 2015, on behalf of the Government of Canada for the needless and unjust harm done to them by this whole situation.

Committees of the House June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, entitled “Women in Skilled Trades and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Occupations”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.