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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservatives.

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

Main Estimates 2015-16 June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the NDP’s position is very clear and it has been the same for a long time: we want to consult Canadians.

We already have a very clear idea of what they think, because we have held consultations and toured the country. Some of my colleagues have travelled from coast to coast to coast to find out what Canadians want, and that is what they told us—the NDP is listening to Canadians.

This is our strength. We care about our citizens, we go out into the field, we go door to door and we consult with Canadians. We want to consult with Canadians and hold a dialogue with the premiers of the provinces and the territories and with the first nations. This is what the NDP will be doing when it forms the government in October.

Main Estimates 2015-16 June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, but I did not mention a referendum in my speech.

What I said was that when the NDP takes power this fall, on October 19, it will consult all provincial and territorial premiers, as well as the first nations.

In any case, I do not need to think about what will happen, since I know that Canadians are on our side. I sent messages to my constituents to let them know what was going on in the Senate, and I was surprised by how many people took action, signed petitions and responded to tell me that they support our position on abolishing the Senate. They see the Senate as a bottomless pit in which taxpayer money disappears.

There are so many problems in Canada. As I meet with people who are unemployed and who have a hard time making ends meet, the government is spending incredible amounts of money to fund the Senate. I know that Canadians will be on our side and will support our position to abolish the Senate.

Main Estimates 2015-16 June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Newton—North Delta.

The Senate is an unelected legislative body whose members are appointed through political favours without any checks and balances and without any mandate from the Canadian people. Moreover, it has no fundamental accountability to the citizens and taxpayers of this country.

The Senate simply does not believe it is accountable to the Canadian people. It believes it is above the standards and principles of accountability that apply to the lower chamber of this Parliament, the House of Commons. The result is a culture of corruption, which has manifested itself over the years in numerous scandals, such as the latest one involving Senator Duffy.

This is not to say that the senators are somehow more predisposed to be corrupt than elected members. Not at all. The difference is that the democratically elected House of Commons has initiated numerous mechanisms to ensure its accountability to Canadian taxpayers. This includes, for example, limits on spending and travelling expenses. In contrast, the Senate has stubbornly refused to put similar standards and accountability mechanisms in place.

As a result, there is no clear code of ethics, and there are many loopholes, which some entrepreneurial senators are happy to use to advance their interests. They use the Senate's funds for dubious purposes at taxpayers' expense. Some of them even sit on the boards of corporations.

A unelected and unaccountable legislative body whose members cannot be removed from doing a bad job or abusing public trust is poised to go down a path of abuse and corruption, and sadly, this is exactly what we see happening.

This inevitably begs the question, does Canadian democracy need such an institution in the 21st century? The answer is clear: No. This archaic institution has no place in our political system anymore. It drags us down and prevents our Parliament from becoming a more transparent, accountable, and efficient democratic institution.

The time has come to roll up the red carpet. Of course, this will not be an easy thing to do. It will certainly require extensive consultations with the provinces, some of which have expressed their concerns about representation in Parliament with the abolition of the upper House.

An NDP government would engage in a constructive dialogue with the premiers to decide the future of the red chamber, and I am sure that Canada will be better off without that archaic institution. The experience of New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries clearly demonstrates that unicameralism is a viable choice for a modern democracy. I am confident that this is the right choice for Canadians as well.

Once again, the House is being called upon to intervene on an important issue and express the views of the people it represents. The people have expressed their opposition many times to the lack of accountability in the Senate, an institution which, we must remember, because of its composition, does not necessarily act in the interest of the citizens and taxpayers of our country, and whose members are named through political favours or merely through a partisan selection, without any checks and balances or any mandate from the Canadian people.

The issue before us today and on which we must vote this evening is very important. Will we listen to the vast majority of Canadians or, on the contrary, will we decide to close our eyes, ignore what real democracy is and sidestep the corruption scandals in this institution that inflame public opinion?

In fact, in the wake of the scandals in the Senate, and further to the successive revelations that have thrown light on the flawed practices of senators, there are many questions that remain unanswered. On the other hand, it is becoming more and more evident that this institution as it stands today is not a true representation of a democratic system. Its conduct is not above reproach, and it does not seem to be able to spend public money responsibly.

It is time to put an end to all these lapses of accountability, the flagrant lack of transparency and the contempt for the most elementary rules of democracy. It is time to take bold measures, measures that will stand as examples and will put an end to all attempts against the public interest.

Unlike senators, members of Parliament have a direct relationship with their constituents and are in regular contact with local residents. That proximity enables them to stay informed about public opinion and about what the public wants. On that point, there is a very broad consensus as to the need for thorough reform of that institution, which is unfortunately resistant to change.

Elections are the legitimate foundation of democracy. They provide a way to hold governments accountable to the people. They make it possible to build a strong and representative democratic system. Citizens are free to choose their political representatives. Candidates are selected on the basis of their political affiliation and their election platform, as well as their social involvement, their productivity and their performance throughout their political career.

Those candidates will be penalized at some point, or instead rewarded with renewed voter confidence when an election is held. That is the electoral model that Canadians want and demand, a model that embodies the principles and the core of democracy: a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Unfortunately, the Senate cannot say that it adheres to these basic principles. Canadians have simply had enough of hearing about senators who use taxpayers’ money as if it were their own. They have had enough of an entitled and utterly corrupt Senate.

Canadians across the country believe it is unacceptable that a body as powerful as the Senate does not have a system with the capacity of strengthening democratic control and ensuring proper management of its own operations through oversight and checks and balances. The present model has clearly failed. What purpose is there, then, to keeping a dead body on life support?

The NDP's position is based on very clear principles. There is nothing that justifies the existence of an unelected, unaccountable Senate that enacts legislation for Canada, particularly when its members are incapable of obeying their own rules. It is time to abolish the Senate once and for all.

I often knock on doors in my constituency, and this was a subject that came up again this weekend. It really is unbelievable because when I go door to door, I introduce myself by saying that I am their member of Parliament, I am happy to be there because I want to know their opinions, I am going back to Ottawa the following week, and I would like to know what issues they would like me to talk about in the House. I ask them whether they want me to consider an issue, to put it before the House, to ask a question and to introduce a bill, on any subject. I ask them what they want me to talk about in the House the next week.

These days, we talk regularly about Canada Post. In Dorval, it is the Dorval golf club operations. We talk about the Canadian economy, and we talk quite regularly about the Senate. When I see that the people I ask to tell me what issue is most important go so far as to name the way we use Canada’s upper chamber, it means that Canadians are very concerned about the situation.

In a constituency like mine, there are local issues and there are immigration problems. People come to see me to talk about very individual situations. Overall, however, what we talk about is the Senate. We hear people talk about the abuses committed by senators and the trips taken and paid for out of their office expenses to engage in partisan activities.

When I am asked what the Senate does, I have to explain that basically, the Senate was in fact created as a repository of a certain constitutional memory and to put people in place who had very diverse experience. What is it now, though?

Now, the Senate is a gang of buddies put in place by a Liberal leader or a Conservative leader to represent partisan interests and go out and collect money, and it drags out the process of enacting legislation in Canada, because we have to go through the same process all over again in a second chamber.

Unfortunately, the people who make up the Senate at present are no longer the people who were supposed to have an institutional memory, and that is very disappointing. It disappoints me tremendously, it disappoints the NDP and it disappoints Canadians.

The question we are asking ourselves tonight is whether we should keep funding the upper chamber. I think the answer is no. Canadians think the answer is no. I hope that all members will vote not to send money to the Senate.

Petitions June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by hundreds of my constituents. This petition once again calls on the government to put an end to cuts to postal services. The petitioners call on the government to oppose the cuts that Canada Post wants to make, since these cuts will penalize seniors and people who do not want to go to community mailboxes.

Over the weekend I went door to door in my riding, and this was a topic that came up a lot. We now know where the community mailboxes will be installed in my riding. They will be very far from the homes of some individuals, and those people are worried about these changes.

I ask the government to listen to them.

Air Transportation June 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, a petition organized by the residents of Dorval with more than 12,000 signatures calls on the Minister of Transport to save the Dorval golf course. A very important green space in the area will disappear if the airport authority does not choose another site for its expansion. A delegation of more than 90 residents and local elected officials came to Ottawa today to convince the minister.

What will the minister do to help the people who came here today?

Air Transportation June 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, despite pleas from 12,000 signatories of a petition and having ample land for expansion, the airport of Montreal continues to push for the elimination of the Dorval golf course to build distribution and screening facilities. This would subject residents to increased noise and air pollution, destroy green space, and reduce the overall quality of life for those in the area.

This green space has long served as a recreational, sport, and social hub for the local community, which helped maintain both quality of life and community inclusion throughout the year.

Today, about 100 people came all the way to Ottawa to protest the government inaction, to intervene and incite the ADM to listen to their concerns and preoccupations, in the hopes of finding a common ground. It has been suggested, for instance, that the ADM consider alternate sites for the proposed expansion projects in other nearby areas.

I therefore urge the Minister of Transport to intervene to facilitate dialogue among all the parties involved and do everything she can to help reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.

Petitions June 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to present 12,000 signatures from residents of Laval and surrounding the airport of Montreal. The airport of Montreal wants to expand to have screening and distribution facilities on the golf course of Dorval. The residents are against that proposition.

The residents absolutely want to conserve a green space that is essential to the people of Dorval, a space where seniors can play sports, go for walks and socialize. It is important for our community.

Some 12,000 people signed this petition, and we are still gathering petitions. It is important for the Minister of Transport to understand that this is a major issue for the West Island of Montreal.

Seniors May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are going to take up to $30,000 out of seniors' pockets by forcing them to work two more years.

They are now proposing to study a voluntary savings plan—yet another expensive study—even though this is something they rejected outright in 2010. Even Jim Flaherty said that it would not work and that the CPP would not be able to administer this new component.

Why are the Conservatives dangling this prospect in front of our seniors when they themselves do not even believe in such a plan?

Pensions May 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are no strangers to the Conservatives' poor track record: they are blocking the expansion of the Canada and Quebec pension plans and forcing Canadians to work an additional two years before they can retire. Furthermore, every senior will lose out on more than $13,000 because of the Conservatives.

The Conservatives have had 10 years to help Canadians better prepare for retirement.

Is a study really their last-minute magic solution?

Petitions May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition signed by people in my riding who want the government to stop making cuts to postal services. The government is continuing to reduce our postal services and is cutting home delivery. Many seniors and single women are concerned about this. More and more cities are asking the government not to go forward with these cuts. All of these people would like the government to listen to them.