House of Commons photo


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

Copyright Modernization Act November 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my hon. colleague for the question. As I said at the beginning of my speech, it is time to clean this mess up, because there is no balance here. On the one hand, we have artists who want to give their work to the country to share their culture, their history—and this can include scientific and other research—and who currently earn $13,000 a year. On the other hand, we have the consumers. Students, in particular, have come to see me and told me that they are paying for course notes that they are obliged to destroy afterwards. They do not believe that, with this bill, they are paying for something that belongs to them.

We in the NDP believe that a balance must be struck so that what we are proposing satisfies artists and creators, as well as consumers, who want to be able to say that they paid a reasonable price for something that belongs to them. That is the basic principle of consumerism.

If something is not working, we need to take the time to amend it now, in order to ensure that the legislation is honest and beneficial for all parties involved.

Copyright Modernization Act November 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Louis-Hébert for his question. Certainly in the United States there are relatively severe sentences for digital copying. I am not saying that people who violate copyright should necessarily be cleared, not at all. I think that people who make copies should be punished, but perhaps a fine would be enough.

We know that with these bills being introduced by the Conservatives, prisons will be even more full. But I cannot see myself standing before my constituents to defend the fact that they will pay taxes so that people go to prison because they illegally copied a digital file that belonged to an author.

As I said earlier, there is something incoherent about that. As I said earlier, I personally find it much more serious when someone abuses other people than when someone makes an illegal copy of a copyright protected work.

I think that balance needs to be restored and a slightly less serious sentence should be handed down.

Copyright Modernization Act November 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging all the artists in my riding, namely those from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Montreal West, Lachine and Dorval, who have written to me on several occasions to explain how they are directly affected by this bill. I also acknowledge the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, whose representatives came to meet with me and tell me about the impact of this legislation on Canadian students.

I am proud to take part in the debate on copyright modernization. I want to be clear. There is no doubt that we, on this side, think that a review of the Copyright Act is long overdue. Indeed, this legislation is not up to date, and some things need to be improved. We also think that some provisions included in the bill are beneficial to both authors and consumers. However, we want to propose amendments, because we believe that, as it stands, the bill is very flawed and that, as parliamentarians, it is our duty to improve it.

The government keeps saying that we vote against various bills, that we are against the budget, that we oppose all sorts of measures, but that is false. We support many initiatives that are good for the public. Today, we are trying to make proposals so that the Conservatives pay attention to all the measures presented in this House.

We want to achieve a balance between creators and consumers. Right now, as my colleagues pointed out, artists in Canada are missing out on millions of dollars with this bill. The average income of an artist is around $12,900 a year, but we know that Canada's culture industry brings in millions of dollars for the government.

This bill seems to target certain consumers who should pay more than others for rights to which they are entitled.

The first thing that bothered me when I read the bill is the fines that the government wants to impose on those who remove digital locks for personal, non-commercial purposes. While there is no doubt that we have to deal with certain issues in this regard, the bill provides for fines of up to $1 million and a five-year term of imprisonment.

Before becoming a member of Parliament, I worked in a detention centre in Quebec. I taught there for some time. Among those there, I saw people who had assaulted children and received sentences of two years less a day. I also saw people who had participated in all kinds of illegal activities and were in a detention centre for two years less a day.

Today, I read in the bill that an individual who has pirated copyrighted material—obviously something that I do not encourage—will get five years in prison, whereas someone who has raped a child will be handed a lesser sentence. I think that there are absurdities of this nature in the bill that absolutely must be addressed, because sentences like that seem somewhat disproportionate to me.

The other thing that disturbed me about this bill is that digital locks essentially trump all other rights including the fair dealing rights of students and journalists. Allow me to explain what I mean.

Currently, where digital locks are concerned, it is a requirement that copies made for educational purposes automatically erase themselves after five days and that course notes be destroyed within 30 days of the course ending.

I was a student less than two years ago, and I still have course notes I reread at home because I find them useful and I paid for them. As a student, I was asked early in the session to pay student fees, and there was always a fee for the material we would require in class. Having paid for this material, I consider it only normal that I should still be able to use it today. Students participating in distance education are asked to do the same thing. Distance education courses are not completed overnight. And yet, data is supposed to be automatically erased within five days and course notes are to be destroyed within 30 days of the course ending. In the case of distance education, five days is clearly not enough time to make use of this data.

The other problem is that our society is increasingly trying to use digitization for ecological and environmental reasons. This creates an imbalance and stalls the promotion of the very innovative cultural formats of our time. That is what upsets me the most. Several groups came and told us that change was critical in this regard.

According to the Cultural Industries' Statement, left unamended, this bill would be toxic to Canada's digital economy.

The Writers Guild of Canada stated that “the only option that Bill C-11 offers creators is digital locks, which freezes current revenue streams for creators, and creates an illogical loophole in the copyright Bill by taking away the very rights the Bill grants to consumers in its other sections.”

More work really needs to be done on this.

The reason why we in the NDP are proposing amendments is not that we are against copyright or that we are against doing some housecleaning on this issue. We are proposing amendments because we believe that, rather than encouraging certain large cultural industries in Canada, we must go to the source and help the creators and artists in my riding and in the ridings of every member of the House. That would allow creators to make money from their work and to be paid a fair price for it, and ensure that consumer rights are not violated. In this regard, a student came to see me and told me that he had paid for class notes that he has to destroy at the end of the course. That is completely ridiculous.

In addition, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada believes that amendments must be made to the bill to facilitate access to creative content through new media and to ensure that creators are fairly compensated for the use of their creative content through new media. This comes back to what I just said. Creators provide something to us: culture, a story, a product that is part of our identity. Yet, instead of compensating those creators, we are telling them that they will not be given a fair return under this bill.

Howard Knopf, a copyright, patent and trademark lawyer, has said that the measures to apply digital locks continue to divide Canadians and defy consensus. They are stronger than required by the WIPO treaties and stronger than necessary or desirable.

In conclusion, we are of the opinion that we must move this bill forward because a cleanup is needed. However, the amendments proposed by the NDP must also be taken into consideration so that we can accept this bill and so that it is fair for consumers, producers, artists, students and everyone who wants to have a stake in today's culture.

Aviation Safety November 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is simply not enough. The safety management system was supposed to be implemented under the supervision of federal inspectors. However, former aviation inspectors are saying that Transport Canada has lost track of which companies have problems to rectify. Just in northern Canada and the Atlantic provinces, there is a shortfall of 51 inspectors.

When will the Conservatives stop putting Canadians at risk and start hiring the inspectors we need?

Poverty November 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, food banks are an important service provided for our communities.

In my riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, a church was vandalized this week and the thieves even robbed the food bank. Unfortunately, too many families with young children depend on that food bank. This is devastating for them and completely unacceptable.

When will the government really do something to tackle poverty among young people, so that families will not be so vulnerable?

Business of Supply October 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the economic health of the agriculture sector is very important in Canada. The Canadian Wheat Board levels the playing field. My colleague gave very concrete examples of price disparities, and in light of the dismantling being proposed by the Conservatives, this creates yet another division between small farms, family farms, and larger farms that are more prosperous.

I would be interested in hearing my colleague's thoughts on holding consultations with all types of farms on how small farms would be affected.

Public Transit September 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities can try to defend himself, but Canada is still the only G8 country that does not have a public transit strategy. There are needs in every major Canadian city. The mayors of these big cities have been asking for a public transit strategy since 2007. I believe that the Conservatives were elected in 2007.

When will this government listen to the needs of the people of Canada and provide an accessible public transit system?

Public Transit September 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in all of the country's major cities, workers are encountering frustrating traffic congestion every day. Our road infrastructure is crumbling. In Montreal, people are afraid to cross the Champlain Bridge. In Toronto, there is no longer any such thing as rush hour; every hour of the day and night is rush hour.

Is the government going to respond to the unanimous demands of cities and business people and provide public transit that is reliable, accessible and affordable?

World Carfree Day September 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to voice my support for World Carfree Day. This event takes place in over 2,000 cities across the world and represents an ever-growing phenomenon of increased environmental awareness.

In my riding in Lachine, Piché Street was closed yesterday to mark the event. Over 150 people took part, including students from six different primary school classes. This day focuses on the importance of public transport, bicycling and walking as ways to ensure environmental sustainability. This is the time to reflect on our use and overuse of the planet's finite resources.

These ecological arguments are powerful, but let us not forget that they are only one side of the coin. Let us use the experience of this day and seize this opportunity to invest in our public transport systems and make our cities greener, healthier and happier, and to allow Canada to live up to its potential as an environmental leader on the global stage.

Congratulations to all people today who did not use cars.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I will keep it brief. Under the current offer to letter carriers, the time they spend delivering the mail will increase from four hours to six hours because the machines will sort the mail for them. This will lead to a reduction in the number of employees.

Our proposal is designed to encourage these jobs and get the workers back on the job as quickly as possible. I certainly do not think that our proposal would reduce jobs that much when compared to this offer.