House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was riding.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. Indeed, that is happening in his riding and in mine, and it is a phenomenon that can be seen almost everywhere in Canada. Good manufacturing jobs are disappearing, and this budget does not contain any measures to help keep them here.

Why are these industries closing? It has a lot to do with the free trade agreements that the government signed without ensuring proper protections for our jobs in Canada. Certainly, globalization does not help matters, and we are seeing all these jobs exported to other countries. It is really too bad. We were talking about the auto sector. When we signed the free trade agreement with Korea, we asked the government to ensure that Ontario's auto sector would be protected, because that sector employs a lot of people. I do not know how the government can conduct its business and not protect jobs here. How does it plan to create jobs? Clearly, there are no solutions to be found in this budget.

There are no measures to develop new jobs in the green technology sector, for example. That is an industry of the future that will always work. There are no measures to help small and medium-sized businesses. My partner owns a small business in Lachine. We were talking about this and he said it was too bad because there was nothing in the budget to help him keep his business running. There may be some programs, but the funds are so limited and the red tape involved is so complicated that he could not be bothered to fill out the forms.

This government likes to help large corporations. It gives billions of dollars in tax cuts to large corporations and does not help small businesses or the manufacturing sector. That is so typical of this government.

Canadians will have an important decision to make in October, and I am sure they will make the right choice because they realize how huge job losses are right now. Everyone has someone in their family who has lost their job or for whom things are not going well. Unfortunately, when people lose their jobs they no longer contribute to the economy. We are really going downhill. As I was saying, we have more and more people who are unemployed or underemployed. We need to fix that. Unfortunately, this bill is not going to help.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my speech, it is clear that this bill will help the wealthiest people in our country.

I remember the committee of the whole with the Minister of Finance. I do not remember which Liberal MP asked a question about income splitting, but the minister replied that it would help all families. However, this measure will not help single mothers raising their kids alone. A measure that allows income splitting will obviously not help single mothers and fathers. This measure will help traditional families as defined by the Conservative government: a mother, a father and their children.

The NDP plan will help all families because people want daycare spaces. We will not try to dictate what kind of family people should have. The fact is that people get divorced and there are single-parent families, and this budget will certainly not help them.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to firmly oppose Bill C-59, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 and other measures. This bill should be rejected not only because of its content, but also because of how it was presented.

Once again, the Conservative government introduced an omnibus bill. We are accustomed to that, but it still needs to be mentioned. The government's intention is to bring in a number of changes, without considering the need to give the opposition parties and Canadians the time to really analyze all the measures the bill contains. Accordingly, the NDP denounces the undemocratic nature of the debate on this bill in the House.

Bill C-59 is 150 pages long, contains 270 clauses and makes a number of changes, many of which have nothing to do with the budget. The Conservatives are unfortunately no stranger to this practice. Since I first came here in 2011, they have not hesitated to resort to it repeatedly in an effort to suppress any critical voices that might express a different opinion and bring a different point of view.

This proves once again that the government has no problem implementing obstructionist and restrictive measures to serve its own interests. This bill has many flaws and gaps that will undoubtedly be detrimental to society in the short term and the long term. For example, it will not create new day care spaces, provide real support for families in need, or help Canadian workers or the unemployed.

Since I was elected in 2011, and since the government obtained a majority, six companies in my riding have closed their doors, including Aveos, BlueWater Seafoods and Humpty Dumpty. In addition, Tim Hortons' headquarters used to be in my riding, and there have been many job cuts at Bombardier.

In the past four years, I have seen the Conservative government's inability to keep these good jobs in Canada. In Montreal, Toronto and across the country more and more companies are closing. This budget and all the measures announced will not keep well-paying jobs in Canada. That is a great concern.

Bill C-59 as proposed by the Conservatives will implement an unfair tax system and one that is especially advantageous for the rich. It includes measures such as income splitting and the increase in the TFSA contribution limit, which will cost Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars. This budget takes Canadian taxpayers' money and gives it to the rich.

As my colleague said, on October 19 the NDP will offer an alternative. We hope to implement universal and affordable day care, which will reduce the cost from nearly $1,000 a month to a maximum of $15 a day.

On the weekend, I was knocking on doors in the village of Saint-Louis in Lachine, a very nice area of my riding, with a volunteer named Jamie. A mother told us that day care was her biggest concern. She was not a poor person. She had her own home in Lachine. However, she told me that she spends $40 a day per child for day care.

Since she has two kids, it costs her $400 a week or $1,600 a month to send her two children to day care. That is a lot of money. She told me that she receives a small amount from the government but that she has to put it aside to pay her income tax in March. The NDP's plan, which seeks to establish $15 a day child care, is therefore a really good one.

We also want to help families in need by raising the federal minimum wage and developing a national housing strategy, another glaring problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

The NDP is also committed to establishing a job creation tax credit for small and medium-sized businesses and developing a comprehensive strategy to tackle unemployment and recurring structural underemployment among young people. These are also subjects I talk about when I knock on doors and meet with young people who are still in university. That is one of their concerns. They are wondering how they are going to find a job after they graduate.

As a member who is only 30 years old and who graduated from university five years ago, one year before becoming an MP, I have friends who are underemployed. They have a job, but it does not use all of their skills. They are very qualified individuals who could have a better job with better working conditions but who have to settle for less because the government is not doing anything to stimulate the job market. That is a loss to our economy.

With regard to the unfair tax practices that the Conservatives continue to defend, the NDP thinks it would be better to do away with income splitting, a $2 billion measure. The NDP wants to address the issue of tax loopholes that are depriving the government of a substantial amount of revenue. That includes the stock option deduction, which costs the federal government $700 million a year. The NDP would allocate that money to eliminating child poverty in Canada, for example.

A New Democrat government will do what is needed to recover the billions of dollars that are estimated to be lost to tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax havens. We will go after tax cheats more effectively and rigorously.

Once again, these are simple and essential measures. My colleague from Rivière-du-Nord did an incredible job and introduced a bill to recover the money invested in tax havens. We lose billions of dollars every year. With better measures, the government could bring in more money.

Although it is interesting to note that the bill includes some of the good ideas the Conservatives borrowed from the NDP, and while the method and process of their implementation could be improved, the New Democrats are glad to see the government acting on many NDP proposals, such as the small business tax credit and the extension of some workplace protections for interns. The bill also reduces the minimum amount that must be withdrawn from registered retirement income funds and includes the NDP proposal to extend the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing investments in new equipment.

On the other hand, certain sections of the bill do not align with the NDP's views. Such provisions, which would allow the Conservatives to arbitrarily set sick leave and disability plans for employees in the federal civil service, are an affront to the ongoing collective bargaining process. Furthermore, the Conservatives' income-splitting scheme would take billions from the middle class and would give it to the wealthy few. The doubling of the TFSA would only make matters worse.

This makes it all the more clear why the Conservatives resorted once again to cramming inappropriate changes into an omnibus bill to avoid proper scrutiny. In fact, the Conservatives' road to a balanced budget was paved with devastating cuts to the public service, the raiding of the employment insurance fund, and the wasteful fire sale of Canada's share in General Motors. All of these will affect the quality of services that hard-working Canadian families rely on.

This hefty bill fails to address much that is significant, including proper proposals or changes to address the environment, Canadian veterans, or seniors, for example. An NDP government will prioritize these matters over tax cuts to corporations and will give them the full attention they rightfully need.

The NDP believes in building our economy while protecting the environment by working with companies to create sustainable, clean jobs and by ensuring that polluters pay the costs for their environmental mess.

We are committed to finally fixing the broken Veterans Affairs department, implementing the veterans charter, and re-opening the nine veterans service centres across Canada.

In addressing our seniors, we would immediately reverse the federal government's plan to raise the retirement age for old age security and the guaranteed income supplement to 67.

The NDP is set on addressing all Canadians instead of focusing on the wealthy few and misleading the rest of the population. The NDP has a practical plan to boost the economy while helping the middle class, including with the child care option and by raising the minimum wage. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have once again shown their inability to learn from their past mistakes as they continue on their current track with their seventh straight omnibus budget bill.

In the words of Scott Clarke and Peter DeVries, writers for iPolitics:

By their very nature such bills are immune to meaningful Parliamentary scrutiny, discussion and debate—they're hot messes, designed to be that way. They're built not only to prevent Parliament from doing what it's designed to do, but to discredit the institution itself.

Such is unfortunately very clear in Bill C-59. It would undermine small businesses by postponing tax relief over several years while offering immediate and extremely costly tax handouts to the wealthiest households. It would hinder the ongoing collective bargaining process by arbitrarily legislating sick leave and disability plans for the public service, and it would offer no help at all for minimum-wage workers who are working full-time but are still far below the poverty line.

I had other things to say, but I think I showed why I must oppose this bill.

I will take questions from my colleagues, since I think it is important to discuss this. This is a bill that cannot be passed. It is not in the best interests of Canadians.

Petitions June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to present a petition signed by many people in my riding, including the nuns of the Congregation of Sisters of Sainte-Anne, who are very active in social and humanitarian issues.

The petitioners are calling on the government to respect the rights of small family farmers to store, trade and use seed. They want us to to adopt international aid policies that support small farmers, especially women, and recognize their vital role in the struggle against hunger and poverty.

They are also calling on us to ensure that policies and programs are developed in consultation with small farmers and that these policies protect the rights of small farmers in the global south to preserve, use and freely exchange seeds. I think this is a very important issue.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Unfortunately, elder abuse is a reality that is quite prevalent and that affects a significant segment of our population. We must remain vigilant and watchful, and we must do everything we can to combat this injustice.

Today is the perfect opportunity to express our solidarity with all those who have been victims of abuse in the past and to express our commitment to ensuring that our seniors can have a better quality of life and live with dignity, one of the most fundamental rights.

It is both disturbing and tragic that elder abuse, be it physical, psychological, sexual or financial, remains mostly underestimated and ignored by societies across the world. At the same time, there is increasing evidence indicating that elder abuse is an important public health and societal problem. Canada is not an exception. Canadian seniors are vulnerable to elder abuse, and it is happening in communities across the country.

Let us pay close attention to this serious issue and take responsibility to better protect our seniors and ensure they age with dignity and security.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question, but I find it incredible that, once again, I am not being asked a question on the debate we are having in the House today.

I introduced a bill and the Liberals have also done a lot of work on animal issues. Unfortunately, I do not know all the riding names by heart, but I could talk about other NDP members who introduced similar bills.

For decades now, we have been introducing bills and nothing happens. Once, a bill made it all the way to the Senate, but it was blocked. It is high time that we did something for all animals and this bill is a step in the right direction.

However, I take issue with this categorization of animals, whereby we are protecting some animals, but not others. We absolutely must add a definition of “animal” to the Criminal Code. I hope this will happen soon in our country, because if we compare Canada to other countries such as Australia, New Zealand and even France, which is currently adopting similar legislation, we will see that we really are not at the forefront of animal protection.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, what I find the most unfortunate is that I am being asked questions about other bills when we are supposed to be talking about a bill on law enforcement animals.

I introduced a bill on animal protection because the Criminal Code does not include a definition of animal. My bill seeks to add a definition of animal to the Criminal Code, along with provisions to explain what constitutes animal cruelty and negligence. My bill has received the support of many animal rights groups across the country.

However, what we are talking about today is Bill C-35. The member opposite does not seem too concerned about it because he did not ask any questions about it. Bill C-35 amends the Criminal Code with regard to law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals. That is what I talked about in my speech. It would have been nice for my colleague to show a bit of interest in this bill because that is today's subject of debate.

I hope that this bill will pass because it is a good bill. There are some provisions that I find worrisome, but I hope that we will be able to talk more about them.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House in support of Bill C-35, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals).

Hundreds of service animals in this country help Canadians in their day-to-day lives and at work. Two weeks ago I was in LaSalle and took part in a Vélo Plaisir activity organized by the Optimist Club. There was a police officer there with her law enforcement dog. It was quite lovely. The dog was seven years old. The police officer talked about the lifespan of her dog, what the dog had done and what her areas of expertise were, and she explained how these dogs are trained. These dogs are very important. Whether we are talking about courageous RCMP dogs or specially trained dogs that valiantly serve members of our armed forces, these animals provide an invaluable service that cannot be overstated.

Since their job is often dangerous, these service animals can be exposed to risks that pose a significant threat to their lives and their well-being. As members of Parliament, we therefore have a responsibility to do our best to protect the animals that serve us so courageously. The existing laws are inadequate, since too many animals that serve this country and its people fall victim to criminals who show a total lack of respect for the lives of these animals and the services they provide to Canada.

One example of the current legislation's failure to protect them happened in Edmonton in 2013, when a man who was trying to flee from the RCMP stabbed Quanto, a police service dog, 27 times, causing his death. The charges brought against the offender did not fit the brutality of his crime. The man was found guilty of animal cruelty. The current legislation does not provide strict enough penalties for the killing of a police or military service animal. These legal provisions do not go far enough to protect the animals that serve our country and its citizens. Killing a service animal is considered a lesser offence than others that an offender could face. These charges are often dropped as part of plea bargains. It seems to me that killing a service animal while trying to escape police is a serious offence that should carry a tough penalty. The brutal stabbing of Quanto was more than just an act of animal cruelty; it was murder.

Cases like this one clearly demonstrate the need for new legislation on this issue, because current laws have not been enough to deter these crimes, and penalties have not been strict enough for those who deliberately hurt or kill service animals. Accordingly, my NDP colleagues and I believe that if an individual acting in bad faith tries to commit a crime against a service animal, it is reasonable to hold that individual criminally responsible for their actions. Existing legislation fails to give the courts and law enforcement officials the power to properly penalize offenders and protect the service animals who work alongside police officers and military personnel.

Our party has long stood opposed to all forms of animal cruelty. We have remained committed to the needs of animals and the eradication of cruelty toward them in our policy proposals and party platform. In addition, we have put forward concrete bills that would better protect the safety of all animals.

While we have been disappointed in the past by the government's unwillingness to support us in these measures, we are pleased that it has finally begun to acknowledge the protections that animals should be afforded. It is our belief, however, that all animals should be free from harm, be they dogs in the canine units or animals at large, and that these protections should not be predicated on animal categorization.

Given our long-standing support of these issues, the decision on the part of the government to bring forth legislation that would better protect service animals and punish those who intentionally harm service animals is a necessary and overall well-received action. However, the legislation is far from perfect.

Our party supports the major premise of the bill, namely, the protection of service animals and the punishment of those who would do them harm. We do, however, have major reservations concerning the impact that some provisions of the bill would have on those in the criminal justice system and the ability of judges to do their job to the best of their ability. In every province across the country, judges comprise a core group of individuals whose actions and expertise have helped to create a legal system that is the envy of countries all around the world. A major part of their job is to make judgments and assessments concerning circumstances of an event when determining the proper sentencing of a crime.

In addition to our concern about the proposed restriction of the sentencing powers of judges, our party believes that, by now, the Conservative government should be acutely aware of the consequences of minimum and consecutive sentencing. Offences that have minimum and consecutive sentences have serious and far-reaching implications for our criminal justice system that should not be taken lightly or brushed aside by the sponsors of this bill. In short, some parameters of the legislation stand to cause unnecessary strains on the Canadian justice system, while simultaneously making it more difficult for judges and other legal experts to do the job for which they are most qualified.

We believe these aspects of the bill require attention so as to ensure criminals can be punished for their actions, while not creating unnecessary burdens on the criminal justice or restricting the sentencing power of judges.

As it currently stands, the bill would serve to undermine these core responsibilities of judges by tying their hands when they are attempting to make decisions that are both legally responsible and fair to the circumstances before them. Forcing judges to hand out minimum sentences to offenders ultimately takes away this freedom and speaks largely to the lack of trust that the government has shown to professionals in our legal system time and time again.

Our party believes strongly that certain provisions of this bill can be rewritten and reworked so as to ensure that service animals across the country are properly protected from harm, that those who would do service animals harm would be effectively punished for their actions, and that judges could retain their powers over sentencing those who willingly break the law. In short, we believe it is the job of a judge, not the Prime Minister or the Minister of Justice, to sentence criminal offenders.

Our support for this bill is not therefore unconditional or without some reservations.

Our party has a long and proud history of supporting the protection of animals, whether they are also pets or the service animals that work to protect Canadians every day. We strongly believe that those who senselessly seek to do harm to animals should be punished and made to answer for their crimes.

We also recognize, however, that judges across the country act as the agents of the legal system. They best understand both the law and the specifics of the case before them. It is our belief therefore that the freedom to determine correct sentencing in this and other cases is one that should remain in the hands of judges. We seek therefore to protect the livelihood and well-being of the animals across the country that do their jobs to keep Canadians safe, but we also believe that the expertise of a judge and his or her ability to properly sentence criminal offenders is similarly something that should be protected.

Overall, we are optimistic that the bill will correct some of the legislative failings of previous laws in protecting our valued service animals across the country, and we hope its provisions will deter and adequately punish those who would do harm to animals like Quanto.

I would like to end my speech by saying that the NDP has always sought progress on the animal protection agenda, be they pets or law enforcement animals.

Just this morning, I met with an animal welfare group. They told me that they like the bill. They think the bill is very good but, as I said, it has some small flaws. In general though, this bill will protect these animals.

Really though, do we want to categorize animals in Canada and say that some are more important than others? I do not know. I am asking my colleagues opposite.

In closing, I would like to thank all of the men and women who train animals—dogs in particular. I know that it is hard work and that training animals to serve takes a lot of patience. These trainers develop such a beautiful relationship with their animals. The least we can do is protect these animals.

I am ready to answer my colleagues' questions.

Petitions June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present a petition signed by thousands of people in my riding and on the entire West Island who are calling on the Minister of Transport to save the Dorval golf course. These names are in addition to the 12,000 names on the petition I presented last week.

In response to my questions, the minister told me that the decision is up to Aéroports de Montréal, but ADM says it is up to the department. People expect the minister to take part in this debate. This is a green golf course on the West Island, in Dorval, that does not use pesticides or golf carts. Seniors go there to get exercise. It is a meeting place for seniors, and people want to keep it. A major protest movement is forming because people do not want to see this golf course close. It is important to the West Island.

I am asking the minister to intervene and tell us whether she will protect the golf course because this request has broad support. Thousands of people have come together over this in short order. It is very important to them and to us. I am very happy to support them.

Canada Post June 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the cities of Dorval, Pointe-Claire, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and Kirkland have joined the class action lawsuit against Canada Post. The government continues to stonewall and is allowing Canada Post to install community mailboxes without consulting the municipalities.

Why does the government refuse to listen to the cities, the municipalities and the people of the West Island who oppose the end of home mail delivery?