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

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for the good work he is doing for the environment. I know that he is passionate about it and has worked very hard on it since being elected.

The member mentioned two things. Social acceptability is very important to me. Right now, the public does not trust the government when it comes to the environment, and has so many misgivings about the National Energy Board that it is alarming. Everyone has doubts because that trust is not there. A little earlier, I talked about Canadians' confidence with respect to transportation of natural resources. That is another important aspect.

My colleague talked about the environmental assessments that are being done. We saw that with the Gros-Cacouna oil terminal. The people had to rally for months to achieve the outcome we have now. There were demonstrations, and many individuals, environmental groups and marine biodiversity experts joined forces to make the government listen and halt the project.

People should not always have to rise up so much and work so hard to make the government listen. The point is, did the government do its job by conducting suitable environmental assessments for this project? I do not think so, and now it is responsible for regaining the public trust. It is the government's responsibility to prove that it truly wants a suitable environment for Canada and that it wants to do environmental assessments that people can really rely on, believe in and appreciate.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I based my entire speech on the fact that I think we are currently using too much fossil fuel. This is not something that can be changed overnight. There are certainly a number of questions to be asked about Canada's exportation of bitumen.

Every Canadian needs to consider their own consumption. As a government and as parliamentarians, it is also up to us to ask where we are going. Whether it is a matter of our exports, our consumption or our development of natural resources, we are a very lucky country. We have natural resources that we must use wisely, because future generations will suffer if we do not make good choices today.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an aside at the beginning of my speech to point out that it is Quebec Intellectual Disability Week. As this will last the entire week, I hope that we are going to talk a lot about it and that there will be less prejudice against people with intellectual disabilities. I wanted to take this opportunity to mention this week here in the House.

I rise today in support of Bill C-46, an act to amend the National Energy Board Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act at second reading.

Bill C-46 amends the statutory liability regime for federally regulated pipelines in Canada. The bill includes absolute liability for all National Energy Board regulated pipelines. Under the new law, a firm's liability for oil leaks and spills would be augmented to $1 billion for major oil pipelines to cover costs for a large-scale rupture, regardless of fault. These are pipelines that have the capacity to transport at least 250,000 barrels of oil per day. A company would continue to have unlimited liability when it was at fault or demonstrated negligence.

The National Energy Board is set to take control of oil spill cleanups. As policy makers, it is our duty to have an in-depth analysis of all of the provisions that are part of a bill and to shed light on dark corners. Although this bill contains important measures that would allow for greater liability in the event of a disaster or an oil leak, there remains a serious cause for concern, mainly due to a lack of clarity and a lack of certainty. There is a lack of clarity because if the cleanup costs surpass $1 billion dollars, Bill C-46 does not provide clear indications as to who would assume the cleanup costs where there is no proof of fault or negligence. There is lack of certainty because the implementation of many of the proposed changes would be left to the discretion of the National Energy Board or cabinet.

Although identifying those responsible for cleanup is important when polluters are to pay the bill for the pollution they caused, we must ensure at the outset that all prevention measures are meticulously developed and adequately strengthened, so that fossil fuels are transported under the best possible conditions. Our first priority should therefore be to prevent oil spills from happening. It is essential that the production and transportation of crude oil is accompanied by an improvement in safety measures, regardless of the method of transportation used.

Today, a large proportion of Canadians do not have much faith in the way in which we transport oil. Only 29% of Canadians think that rail transportation is safe. Take, for example, the Lac-Mégantic disaster or the derailment in northern Ontario this past weekend. In my riding, there are many railways and this is of concern to my constituents. A great deal of oil is transported using these rail lines and people are worried about it. Here are a few more statistics: in Canada, only 37% of Canadians think that tanker transportation is safe, and only 47% of Canadians think that pipelines are a safe way to transport oil. I do not think this is very many.

These perceptions are shaped by the growing number of accidents over the past decade. The latest Transportation Safety Board of Canada report shows that pipeline accidents have increased significantly, from 71 in 2004 to 118 in 2014. The number of accidents has gone up by 47 per year in 10 years. In 2011, the Commissioner of the Environment pointed out that the National Energy Board had not managed to fix a number of known problems or to ensure that pipelines were properly maintained. The Conservatives have still not implemented an adequate monitoring and inspection system.

To address these problems, the NDP believes that the government must introduce solid regulations, increased monitoring and stricter inspection of the infrastructure in use. We believe that rebuilding a strict environmental assessment process to repair the damage done by the Conservative government should be a top priority. We also need strict legislative provisions for environmental assessments instead of the environmental regulations that the Conservative government is constantly contravening. This process must be carried out in collaboration with communities, government organizations, the provinces and territories, and first nations, which must be consulted and involved in a meaningful way.

Bill C-46 represents significant progress towards improving the liability regime, particularly by strengthening the powers of the National Energy Board, which, if the bill is properly enforced, will protect taxpayers by applying the polluter pays principle. However, the bill remains rather vague and does not address some crucial issues.

Indeed, the bill leaves some doubts about whether taxpayers will have to bear the cost of cleanups over $1 billion when fault or negligence cannot be proven. Furthermore, too many provisions create uncertainty because their implementation will be left up to the discretion of either the National Energy Board or cabinet, not to mention that very few of the provisions in Bill C-46 are mandatory, and the application of many of them will depend on measures that the government will take.

From that perspective, Bill C-46 allows quite a bit of flexibility in terms of decisions made for political reasons and in terms of secret agreements between operators and the National Energy Board.

Many stakeholders in civil society have already expressed reservations about this bill, and the NDP shares those concerns.

For example, Ian Miron, a lawyer at Ecojustice, said that Bill C-46 is too discretionary in that its influence depends on how the NEB and cabinet decide to implement certain provisions. It is possible for some measures to be implemented for political or other reasons, which would leave Canadians without the protection and peace of mind that this bill purports to provide them.

An NDP government would give Canada a sustainable industry, enforce environmental laws, and take into account cumulative repercussions, public safety and respect for first nations in all of its decisions.

The NDP understands the need to stop excessively relying on fossil fuels. Our vision for development promotes economic growth and job creation, while ensuring social and environmental sustainability.

On this side of the House, we place particular emphasis on the development of renewable energy resources, such as solar energy, hydroelectricity, tidal energy, and biomass energy. Through this approach, we will create a significant number of well-paid jobs and make Canada a leader in the field.

The NDP has repeatedly criticized the government's lack of action and leadership on green and renewable solutions. By investing in renewable energy and energy independence, Canada will not only reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, but it will also foster innovation and create green jobs.

Canadians deserve to be represented by a government with a vision, a government that looks to the future and that wants to strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection.

The NDP promises to better manage our natural resources, invest in renewable energy and clean technologies and improve energy efficiency in order to build a more sustainable economy. Canadians know that they can count on the NDP.

Since becoming an MP, people have been telling me in their many emails and phone calls, and when I meet them going door-to-door, that the environment is a priority for them. They are concerned about what will happen to future generations. They tell me that we are heading towards a world where we are so reliant on fossil fuels that it will be difficult to change course.

I think this is a very important topic. As my colleagues have mentioned, this is a step in the right direction. I hope we will be able to improve the bill in committee. We believe in the polluter pays principle, but I showed that there are some shortcomings and we must absolutely fix them.

I hope that all parties in the House will be willing to work together, since this is very important for Canada and for our global environment.

Canadian Air Transport Security Authority March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to support the motion moved by my colleague from Sherbrooke. This motion would be quite useful not only for his riding, but also for roughly 400 airports across the country. It seeks to allow non-designated airports to provide CATSA-recognized security screening. This mechanism would address a problem faced by the 400 airports I mentioned.

In 2004, in the wake of the events of September 11, a list of designated airports was created in order to enhance air transport security. As hon. members know, when we go to the airport we have to go through scanners, empty our pockets, and sometimes even remove our shoes, depending on the airport. These security measures are controlled by CATSA.

The motion of my colleague from Sherbrooke, an intelligent motion that is very important for his riding and also for other airports, calls on the government to allow these airports to acquire, at their expense, the same security mechanisms that the other airports have. This provides a solution to the airports that currently want to obtain this same screening. The Conservatives already talked about this measure in 2013, when they agreed that this situation had to be resolved. Nonetheless, nothing has happened since. My colleague therefore decided to move this motion in the House today in order to get things moving, because airports are major economic drivers for a number of regions.

As my colleague said, Sherbrooke, a city of 200,000 people, still does not have a designated airport. It is tough. As my colleague from Compton—Stanstead was telling me, the chamber of commerce sometimes has a hard time attracting tourists because this region does not have a good transportation system.

I lived in the Sherbrooke area for five years when I was at university. I was quite involved there, so I know what an impact an airport could have on that region. We are calling on the government to be open to the idea of allowing non-designated airports to provide screening. Everyone who travels by air wants to benefit from these mechanisms.

Air safety is a priority for the NDP, as is the safety of all transportation, whether it be rail or marine transportation. However, people are more likely to see the importance of security screening when it comes to air safety, where passengers are involved. We are therefore asking that non-designated airports be allowed to benefit from this type of security screening. There are 518 airports in Canada, 87 of which are designated. As a result, there are many airports that need these services.

Adopting such a measure could lead to economic growth in many regions. The simplest solution would have been to designate more than these 100 airports, particularly airports that serve a large population, such as the one in Sherbrooke. However, the other parties rejected that option. That is why we are trying to have this motion adopted.

I was pleased to hear my Conservative colleagues say that they are going to support this motion and propose some amendments, since this motion is very important for the Eastern Townships.

I would like to thank the member for Sherbrooke. In my opinion, he does a phenomenal job of standing up for his constituents in the House. We have heard him speak on this subject, but also on many other issues. He is the youngest elected member of the House. He really shines. It is interesting to see how some members of the House are able to move a bill forward, even though they are in opposition. People ask us what we can do. This is further proof that we can do great things, even though we are members of the official opposition.

Many stakeholders support our position, including the City of Sherbrooke, all of the municipalities and RCMs in the Eastern Townships, and the universities and hospitals in the region. To date, 10 airports have had their application for designation rejected by the government.

Before I close, I would like to name them because these are airports and cities that could benefit from the motion. They are Puvirnituq; Trois-Rivières and Schefferville, Quebec; St. Catharines in the Niagra region of Ontario; Bromont, Quebec; Cold Lake, Alberta; Dawson City, Yukon; Edson, Alberta; Sherbrooke, Quebec; and the Northern Rockies regional airport in British Columbia. All of these airports will benefit from the work of the member for Sherbrooke. I want to commend him for all that he has done.

Pink Shirt Day February 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today I am very proud to rise in honour of Pink Shirt Day, a day of action against bullying.

I am very proud to stand on behalf of all my NDP colleagues to raise awareness of this pink shirt movement.

This day got started in 2007 when two Nova Scotia students wanted to help a teen who was being bullied at school. In Canada, one in three children are victims of bullying.

I myself was a victim of bullying when I was in high school. People said and wrote horrible things about me. I was even spat on. Nobody should be subjected to that kind of treatment. One day, a teacher saw me crying, listened to me and really helped me a lot.

What I want to say today is that we have to tune in to the young people around us. Together, we have to talk about this to get rid of the taboos around bullying. We know that bullying can be motivated by, among other things, homophobia, racism and sexism.

I consider that the federal government has a leading role to play. The NDP thinks that it is time for a national bullying prevention strategy, and we must act now.

Lachine Knights of Columbus Council 1776 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the Knights of Columbus Council 1776 of Lachine. That means 100 years of unity, charity, fraternity and patriotism, 100 years of community service in Lachine and 100 years of volunteering to support families and help fellow citizens.

To the brother knights, I want to thank you for your dedication, your commitment and your movement.

I would have liked to list all the organizations they helped last year, but there are simply too many to name.

I would like to commend the exceptional work of Grand Knight Pierre Parr and his wife, Yvette. I want to thank Michel Dubois for organizing the festivities to celebrate the council's 100th anniversary, and I also want to congratulate all the knights of Council 1776 of Lachine. I am so pleased to be able to share this moment with you.

Canadian Flag February 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure in joining my fellow Canadians across the country to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the national flag of Canada.

Since its inception, the national flag has become a source of pride, a symbol of unity and a powerful emblem of the Canadian entity. This celebration is a unique occasion that should be used to reflect on the progress we have made throughout history, to understand our path and to renew our commitment to serve, the best way we can, our country and our people.

Our red and white flag has, at its centre, a white square adorned with a majestic maple leaf.

The flag was designed by distinguished Canadians to promote Canadian values: democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

Canada's flag became official by royal proclamation in 1965, and since then it has been recognized internationally as a strong symbol of those values.

On this occasion, I would like to salute the Canadians who participated yesterday in various celebrations across the country marking the 50th anniversary of the flag.

Assaults Against Public Transit Operators February 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in favour of Bill S-221, a bill to amend the Criminal Code to require a court to consider as an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing the fact that the victim of an assault is a public transit operator.

Public transit operators play a significant role in our daily life. Their contribution might go unnoticed, but their service is surely invaluable. In small and big cities, Canadians count on the service of all those men and women who strive to provide the best service possible, while ensuring the well-being of passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists.

Because of the nature of the work they do, public transit operators are easy targets for acts of violence that can take many forms, including everything from verbal intimidation to physical abuse.

Stéphane Lachance of the Syndicat des chauffeurs, opérateurs et employés des services connexes, which is part of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, said and I quote, “Unfortunately, being a bus driver also means being a victim of violence.”

I have some facts to present that clearly illustrate the scope of the problem and the need to take concrete, effective measures to contain it.

In 2010, within the organizations that form the Association du transport urbain du Québec, 14.2% of workplace accidents covered by the CSST were the result of assault and acts of violence. Also in 2010, 65 drivers from the Réseau de transport de la Capitale and 56 from the Société de transport de Laval were attacked, and in Vancouver, 150 assaults on bus drivers were reported.

In 2011, 2,061 operators were assaulted in Canada. Assaults included everything from getting spit on, being hit over the head and having boiling water thrown at them to being threatened with a knife and even sexually assaulted. In July 2014 in Cambridge, a driver was even threatened by a young man carrying a samurai sword. That speaks volumes about the kind of problem we are dealing with.

In Ottawa in 2012, OC Transpo reported 62 incidents of violence committed against its operators. Also in 2012, 66 acts of violence against bus drivers were reported in Montreal. According to health and safety experts, only 25% of violent acts are reported. In 2013 in Kelowna, a woman stabbed an operator with a syringe, so now that driver will have to be tested for hepatitis C for the rest of his life.

I could list of all the attempted murders and assaults with a weapon, which unfortunately have become all too common for bus drivers. Furthermore, subway and taxi operators also face the same risks. I am glad that the member opposite included taxi drivers in this bill.

Marc-André Coulombe, president of Taxi Québec, said:

Not a week goes by that I do not hear about an attack or a scuffle. However, most drivers do not report it.

This is a big problem. As a Liberal member was saying, taxi and bus drivers confirm that this is a reality of their job. This is what Robin West, International Vice President of the Amalgamated Transit Union, said during his testimony to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs:

It is a sad reality that most public transit operators have experienced the indignity of being spat on, have been punched in the head, or they know a colleague who has been subjected to a knife attack, been stomped upon or sexually assaulted...many suffer physical and emotional injuries that are life-threatening and career-ending.

That was the case for Mr. Bouzid, an Algerian engineer, Montreal taxi driver and father of three, who was killed in cold blood while on the job.

I would like to take a moment to note that many taxi drivers in my riding and elsewhere are from an immigrant minority and have excellent qualifications from their homelands, but cannot pursue a career in their field because they cannot get their credentials recognized here.

These highly qualified, university-trained immigrants have a very hard time integrating into the labour market. I would like to take this opportunity to call on the appropriate authorities to correct this problem, which affects a large part of the immigrant population and remains a major hindrance to their emancipation. These taxi and bus drivers are facing problems on the job.

Mr. Bouzid's murder may be an extreme case, but attacks in taxis are not so rare. This is a recurring problem. To deal with this type of appalling crime, it is essential that judges be equipped with the right tools so that they can hand down appropriate sentences and deterrents are strengthened.

Unions and associations that represent bus and taxi drivers have been calling for better protection for their members for many years. The government needs to always be listening to the professionals in this sector and has a duty to ensure the safety of everyone employed in this area and to protect them when they are working.

By making the assault on a public transit operator an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing, we will be sending a strong and unequivocal message that such crimes are not tolerated. These measures will help reduce the number of assaults on public transit operators and will curb the increase in this very disturbing phenomenon, which is of particular concern to transit professionals.

New Democrats believe that Canada must invest in the well-being of all public transit operators, and this will only be possible if we can ensure a safe and secure environment in their workplace. Indeed, protecting mass transit operators has always been a priority for the NDP, a duty that is incumbent upon us to uphold as much as possible.

In this regard, the NDP has already tabled many private members' bills that sought to extend further protections to public transit operators by imposing greater punishment for the offence of aggravated assault when public transportation workers were the victims.

Even though the bill under examination was tabled by another political party, we are ready to take a constructive approach to allow for the necessary changes to be implemented in order to help these workers significantly. This is because the NDP has the public transit operators' interests at heart.

I would like to point out that these new provisions have been favourably received by a number of unions in this sector, including the Syndicat de la STM, which represents bus drivers. I would just like to quote Stéphane Lachance, the union spokesperson:

We applaud the initiative and will work with partners who want...increased protection for transit workers. We hope that the deterrent effect of such a law will be felt quickly and that we will see a significant decrease in assaults in our network.

NDP members are proud to support the demands of the associations and unions that represent public transit workers because the NDP has made the needs and interests of public transit workers one of its top priorities. Therefore, I join my colleagues in supporting this bill, and I hope that it will be passed and written into law as soon as possible.

Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. Indeed, that is the dichotomy we always see between corporations and small businesses. Small businesses create jobs. When a corporation sets up shop, small business jobs are often impacted. We need to help small businesses.

My colleague provided the numbers for the gap between the corporate tax rate and the small business tax rate. That gap needs to be widened. We really must help small businesses. When large commercial chains come along, they often offer jobs that are not that great. The work environment is a lot more impersonal. As a consumer, I always try to shop in small, individual stores that are more personal, instead of going to major chains.

I really hope that members of the other parties will support this motion because it is important for the Canadian economy. I believe in it and I think this is a good plan for helping Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Job Creation February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

That is what I was talking about in my speech—the fact that the member started his question by saying that his party has created lots of jobs. There are currently 1.3 million unemployed workers in Canada. As I said, we lost 4,300 jobs in December alone. In 2014, employment grew by barely 1%. That is the problem I have with this because the Conservatives get up and tell us that everything is fine even though I have numbers like these.

In answer to his question, we all know that every time a big corporation sets up shop in a particular place, that creates a deficit in terms of jobs for all of the smaller businesses that were already there. I know lots of small business owners, and it is not true that these people are making $150,000, $200,000 or $300,000 per year. Lots of people go through hard times while getting their businesses up and running. My partner has a small business. Together, we make over $200,000 per year, but he is only making about $20,000 per year even though his business is four years old. He has created jobs, and every year he creates more jobs. It is hard. It would be nice if he could get a little help.

Lachine is trying to revitalize Notre-Dame street. All the business owners I talk to tell me that it is hard and that they are struggling, but help from the government would go a long way and would create local jobs for people in these sectors.

I heard my colleague's argument, but the gap between rich and poor keeps growing. It certainly was not the NDP who created that gap. It was the previous Conservative and Liberal governments. The NDP's measures are certainly not going to make the rich richer.