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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

Business of Supply June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I wish to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with the member for Drummond.

On behalf of my constituents in LaSalle—Émard, I rise in the House to support my colleague's motion. I will be supporting the official opposition motion moved by my colleague from Trois-Rivières. The motion states the following:

That, in the opinion of the House, employment insurance premiums paid by employers and workers must be used exclusively to finance benefits, as defined by the Employment Insurance Act, for unemployed workers and their families and that, consequently, the government should: (a) protect workers'...premiums...; (b) improve program accessibility...; and (c) abandon its plan, as set out in Budget 2015, to set rates unilaterally...

When we are elected to the Parliament of Canada and form the government, it is important that we keep our promises. When we collect EI premiums from workers and employers, that money must be used for its intended purpose.

In other words, those premiums must be used to help workers who have had the misfortune of losing their jobs, so that those workers can make ends meet and provide for their families until they can find another job.

When we take office, that is a commitment we make. It is what is written, for example, in the contract of this employment insurance program, which is one of the commitments that Canada has made to Canadian society. These are the programs we have set up over the years to ensure that we have a society that is more just and more equitable.

In addition, for decades, Canada was rightly acknowledged as a fair, equitable and, I would even say, compassionate society. We introduced programs such as employment insurance, health insurance and the Canada Pension Plan. All of these programs are part of the social safety net that Canadians decided to establish and to which they contribute year after year through a variety of contributions and income tax.

It is a government’s responsibility to ensure that the contributions it receives from workers, from Canadian men and women, are used fairly and equitably for government programs.

However, over the past 20 years, we have noted that government after government has not kept the commitments it made or its promises, and this is why Canada is no longer the fair and just society that we used to know.

Over the past two decades, that is, since the major cuts made my Liberal governments and now those made by the Conservative government, the wage disparities between rich and poor as well as between men and women have continued to grow. I am not the one who is saying it, this is in the OECD reports: income inequality between rich and poor and between men and women in Canada is rising, and rising more and more quickly. This worries me.

This is the reason why we have programs such as employment insurance and others that I mentioned before that help reduce these inequalities.

I am lucky to represent the riding of Lasalle—Émard. It is a riding that experienced a golden age, at a time when the manufacturing sector was important. Over the years, manufacturing has declined somewhat and major companies that employed a large number of people have unfortunately closed down.

We have come to realize that there is a significant transition happening in the Canadian economy. First, a number of Canadian companies have been bought up by foreign interests. Then they just closed down, because it was decided to move production to somewhere else in the world. Other companies did not invest wisely in their employees or in the business itself to ensure its survival, and they too closed down. What happened to most of these workers? They lost their jobs. It is at this point that workers want to be able to rely on employment insurance.

I find it extremely sad to hear some of my Conservative colleagues talking about people who lose their jobs as if it were their own fault and as if the government were not required to help them. I know that Canadians are supportive and compassionate people. These are people who want to help each other. When I listen to Conservatives on the other side of the House, I do not recognize myself in them. Most Canadians would not recognize themselves in them, either.

As I mentioned, a number of large manufacturing companies in my riding have closed down. There has been a transition and, today, one of the fastest-growing sectors in my riding is the retail trade. What do we have now? We have precarious employment, part-time jobs, minimum-wage jobs and very difficult jobs. It is very hard for a family to make ends meet.

In addition, because of the type of jobs in retail, when the American giant Target closed its doors just a year after coming into Canada with great fanfare, between 60 and 70 jobs were lost in my riding. The same thing then happened with Best Buy. Because these jobs have such piecemeal schedules, it is really difficult to get a certain number of hours. In addition, who occupies most of these jobs? They are women.

We know that, with the cuts made by the Liberals and then by the Conservatives, and the fact that they have made access to employment insurance more and more difficult, these people often find themselves with nothing. It is not just the workers who suffer. Their families suffer, too. What we have noticed in the riding of Lasalle—Émard is that people are poorer because the cost of living is increasing and jobs are precarious. When someone loses a job, it is difficult for him or her to have access to employment insurance. The social safety net that we built generation after generation in this country has been ripped apart.

I think that those currently in government do not understand Canadian society at all or the values held by Canadians. In October 2015, I think it will be their turn to receive a pink slip that says they have been fired.

Committees of the House June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, entitled “Promising Practices to Prevent Violence Against Women”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Co-operatives and Mutual Companies June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his comments.

What I heard is that the government is once again opening the door to demutualization instead of encouraging mutualization and co-operatives.

We must keep in mind that the capital held by most Canadian mutual insurance companies was built up over many years. How can all of the successive generations that invested in these companies be treated fairly in the demutualization process?

That is exactly why we proposed that a reserve be returned to the community when demutualization occurs. That could help co-operatives and mutual companies grow.

The parliamentary secretary also emphasized the importance of the banking system. We all know that Canada's banking system is very solid, but mutual companies have a role to play in a diversified economy. We do not want a system made up solely of share capital; we also want companies with an alternative structure—grass-roots companies that create jobs.

I would like the government to take that into account and, for the sake of fairness, that it find a way to ensure the survival of mutual companies.

What does the Minister of Finance plan to do to ensure that mutual insurance companies can thrive, remain competitive and offer Canadians—

Co-operatives and Mutual Companies June 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on April 2, I asked the Minister of Finance a question to clarify the regulations on the conversion of mutual companies. These regulations were presented on April 28.

Mutual insurance companies have been part of our local economies for more than a century. They were the response from co-operatives when private companies showed no interest in offering insurance products adapted to individuals' needs, and more specifically to farmers' needs. After years of hard work, these companies have become important players in Canada's property and casualty mutual insurance market. Their democratic value and their capacity for innovation, as well as their deep roots in the communities they serve, have also helped them to flourish. Today, Canada has a well-established mutuals sector, which has managed to accumulate significant capital reserves over the years.

However, once again, the Conservative government is letting its ideological opposition to co-operatives shine through by proposing regulations that give incentives for demutualization. My question on April 2 had to do with the two proposed regulations for property and casualty mutual insurance companies, including mutual and non-mutual policyholders, which would establish a legal framework allowing them to convert into corporations. I realize that the government is following through on an announcement it made in budget 2011, in response to demands from the Economical Mutual Insurance Company, which indicated that it wanted to begin a voluntary demutualization process.

My question for the Minister of Finance has to do with his turning a deaf ear to the concerns that have been raised for the past two years by representatives of mutual insurance companies and the official opposition, who see in the government's intentions, in its draft regulations, incentives for demutualization. Why is the government turning a deaf ear?

The mutual insurance companies' capital reserves were established on the collective nature of equity built up over generations. Demutualization under the proposed regulations will benefit only a small group of current title holders and will make them wealthy. The federal government could take Quebec's lead and adopt regulations whereby capital cannot be divided during demutualization, creating an indivisible reserve for the common good and ensuring the sustainability of co-ops and mutual associations.

In that context, I would also like the government, or the Minister of Finance to explain to Canadians why the regulations do not treat all policy holders fairly and why he did not require the capital to be invested in the community or disbursed to other mutual associations, as is the practice in other countries.

Firearms Regulations May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I always find it kind of a shame when they draw the line between black and white. They say that people on this side of House believe one thing and those on the other believe another. Thankfully, Canada is known for its low crime rate; that is what sets us apart from the United States. We would like the crime rate to be even lower. The low rate is due to the fact that Canada has regulations to protect people from firearms.

People have to have a licence to drive and, as my colleague pointed out, to have a dog or a cat. That is why I do not understand the Conservatives' refusal to maintain Canada's exemplary record on protecting its citizens and keeping them safe. I do not understand why they do not want adequate gun control.

Why not implement the United Nations regulations? I do not understand their obsession. Maybe my colleague can explain their obsession with not wanting adequate gun control considering that most firearm owners agree with implementing these regulations.

Business of Supply May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. Thanks to her experience, she was able to demonstrate the importance of science and especially of the communication that should be happening between the scientific community and parliamentarians. She showed that we need that communication to make informed decisions.

Her colleague's motion covers many different angles. I would like her to comment on the cuts at Statistics Canada, their impact, the fact that the long form census was abolished, and how that science and that knowledge are now lost to Canada forever. It is now becoming more and more difficult to get a detailed picture of our economy, our society and our health.

Business of Supply May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the Conservative member's speech. I also worked with him when he was minister of state for science and technology.

His speech gives us the impression that the current government has invested a lot in science. Does he therefore support our proposal to create a chief science officer position to advise the government? We need to bring science into the House of Commons and foster dialogue between parliamentarians and the scientific community.

Why would the government not invest in creating a chief science officer whose role would be to advise the government?

Committees of the House May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women in relation to its study on the main estimates, 2015-16.

Facilitating the Transfer of Family Farm or Fishing Corporations Act May 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I must admit that it will be very difficult for me to express the passion I share with my colleague, the member for Joliette, for agriculture and especially for the future of agriculture in just four minutes.

I am an agronomist by training, and I grew up in a rural area. I went back to school in 2004 to get a degree in agriculture and the environment. During my studies and over the years, it became clear to me that farmers across Canada, and in Quebec especially, are people who work very hard and who are passionate about putting food on our tables.

The agricultural industry is currently in crisis, which is one of the reasons why I went back to school to study in this field. A number of businesses are having a hard time with succession planning, and we are seeing an increasing number of farms that do not have anyone to take over.

Bill C-661, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of family farm or fishing corporation), introduced by my colleague, the member for Joliette, is an attempt to address the serious succession problem and use Canadian tax laws to make it easier to transfer a farm to a second generation. The previous speakers on the official opposition side also mentioned that there is currently a lot of speculation in farmland across Canada. Saskatchewan recently took measures because its farmland is sought after by non-agricultural businesses that simply want to manage and speculate in this farmland. We have to think about what kind of agriculture we want in Canada.

Not only is agriculture part of our economy, but it is also part of our history and heritage. We have to decide how we want to develop agriculture and what we can do to attract more people to this sector and this industry. I am talking about front-line agriculture. We know that the agri-food sector employs many Canadians, that it is expanding and that it makes a huge contribution to our economy. However, front-line agriculture is beginning to lack vitality and people to take over farms. Many farmers are close to retiring, if they have not yet reached the average age of retirement in Canada.

I believe that my colleague, the member for Joliette, has introduced a very important bill about how the Government of Canada, through tax measures, could facilitate the transfer of farms, ensure agricultural succession and ensure that we have healthy agriculture in a healthy environment that is in keeping with our vision of what it should be, with passionate farmers who will produce food with confidence and guarantee that Canada has home-grown, healthy food.

I believe that the House could hear much more about agriculture and its future, which is cause for concern. I hope that we will have a long debate about this matter so that we can identify concrete solutions and offer our farmers a promising future.

Digital Privacy Act May 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by the hon. member, who, if I am not mistaken, is also a member of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

The government seems to be in a hurry to move forward with this bill. However, we still have some concerns about privacy protection. The Privacy Commissioner raised those concerns.

Can the hon. member elaborate on how this bill will really protect the privacy and communications of Canadians who communicate honestly and in good faith? Does this bill contain measures that will really protect Canadians' privacy?