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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was countries.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Laurentides—Labelle (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

International Development Week February 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, this being International Development Week, I would like to pay tribute to everyone who works so passionately, relentlessly and with such conviction to improve the living conditions of millions of people living in extreme poverty.

Many Quebeckers and Canadians devote a great deal of effort to helping developing countries achieve the millennium development goals. Over the years, many NGOs, unions, teachers and students from Quebec and Canada have built relationships and partnerships with their global counterparts. Their excellent work, expertise and compassion are recognized and very much appreciated in those countries.

So that they may pursue their objectives, the Government of Canada must honour its commitment to allocate 0.7% of its GNP to official development assistance by increasing the development budget.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to thank everyone who is directly or indirectly involved in international development.

Female Genital Mutilation February 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, February 6 is the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation. Every year, more than 3 million young girls are at risk of being subjected to genital mutilation, and some 500,000 of those girls live in Europe.

Women are being repressed and discriminated against in this way on the grounds of tradition and cultural symbolism. Mutilations are done in great secrecy in the worst sanitary conditions and are completely illegal. Knives, razor blades and even scissors are used for the various barbaric operations. No anesthetic is used. It is a highly traumatic experience for these young girls and unfortunately, many of them do not survive.

Let us not consider this day to be just a reminder of the fact that these inhumane practices exist; let us eradicate these practices for good. It is unacceptable in 2011 for such indignities to the female body to continue to occur.

Haiti February 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in addition to lacking transparency, the Canadian government is dragging its feet when it comes to getting Haiti the aid promised. According to the organization Concertation pour Haïti, barely a third of the $400 million that Canada promised in March 2010 has been transferred to organizations helping the Haitian people.

Can the government explain why, when there is a desperate need for help, the promised aid still has not reached the victims?

Haiti February 3rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, following the earthquake in Haiti, the Canadian government committed to matching funds donated by the public to the earthquake relief fund. But the $220 million from the government will be taken from the promised urgent relief funds and the money committed during the New York conference. In other words, there is no new money.

Why is the government playing accounting tricks at the expense of the Haitian people?

Foreign Affairs February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Collective of Solidarity with the Tunisian Struggle for Social Justice is holding a rally on Parliament Hill today to show its support for the people of Tunisia.

Tunisians are experiencing a surge of hope, having freed themselves from the heavy yoke that was weighing them down. The beginnings of real democracy are taking shape. The democratic world should pay close attention to the Tunisian experience, because its success could fuel the aspirations of other countries in the region.

The federal government's message must be clear: Canada will not harbour former dictators or their families. It must reach an extradition arrangement with Tunisia concerning Mr. Trabelsi, the brother-in-law of former president Ben Ali. Canada must also immediately freeze all of his assets and those of his family so they cannot be liquidated or transferred to tax havens. If any of those assets come from dirty money, they must be seized and returned to their rightful owners: the people of Tunisia.

Long live a democratic Tunisia!

Public Safety December 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs told us there were more pros than cons to concluding an agreement with the U.S. government for establishing a “security perimeter”. The minister might be right. However, it is not up to him alone to make that decision. A debate and a vote in the House are required.

Since negotiations on the “security perimeter” have a scope comparable to that of a treaty, will the Prime Minister promise to hold a debate and a vote on the issue before signing anything?

Bill C-288 December 16th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on May 5, 2010, Bill C-288, to give new graduates a tax credit was passed by a majority of the members of the House of Commons. For the second time in less than three years, it has reached the Senate.

However, it has been debated only twice since it got there. Bill C-288 would help thousands of young students who want to study and stay in the regions, some of which are experiencing economic difficulties.

The Conservative government is taking advantage of the fact that it controls the Senate in order to control its work. For the Conservative government to oppose such a measure is one thing, but recommending that the Senate block debate on Bill C-288 is unacceptable.

The Conservative government must drop its contemptuous attitude toward the will of democratically elected parliamentarians and immediately authorize debate on Bill C-288 in the Senate.

Situation in Haiti December 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate my colleague's question, but I would have preferred that it be clearer. Perhaps I would have better understood the gist of his question. I believe it has to do with how the government can conduct the elections underway in Haiti in a democratic process.

As I mentioned, Haitians are entitled to have a democratically elected president, one who would be mandated by the people to address the major challenges faced by Haiti.

The country's situation since the January earthquake has exacerbated the needs of the people who are waiting for humanitarian aid and health care. People are still living in makeshift camps. The conditions are such that, on the eve of the election, the people are worn out and tired; they want tangible results. All they are asking for is a bit of peace and prosperity.

Situation in Haiti December 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I understand this anger. I may have touched a nerve and upset the hon. Conservative member a bit.

I would nonetheless like to remind him of the numbers I mentioned in my speech. There is currently a cholera crisis and the number of deaths increase every day. In response to this epidemic, we are told that aid is trickling in and the UN says it has received only $5 million of the $164 million promised by the international community over a year ago.

In a few days we will be marking this sad anniversary, a tragedy that affected an entire people, an earthquake. Money was promised a year ago and we are reaffirming our commitment to support the Haitian people, but the money is not getting there.

On March 31, 2010, and in July 2010, the government promised it would provide $400 million over the next two years. The money is not needed two years from now; it is needed right now, primarily to eradicate the cholera. It is all well and fine to install and train police officers and build prisons, but we have to think about feeding, caring for and housing these people.

Situation in Haiti December 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is very concerned about the situation in Haiti. The violence of the last few days is yet another ordeal for the people of Haiti, who have already suffered so much this year. Peace must be restored so that the recount can be as transparent as possible. The Haitian authorities must do everything they can to ensure there is an unblemished democratic process.

The results of the presidential election announced on November 28 were 31% for Ms. Manigat, 22% for Mr. Célestin and 21% for Mr. Martelly. When these results were announced, violence erupted in the streets. The second round is scheduled for January 16, 2011.

As soon as the results were announced, Mr. Martelly's backers began to protest. Their candidate had been expected to reach the second round. His supporters erected barricades in the streets of Port-au-Prince. There were also clashes with UN forces. Mr. Martelly accused the elections commission of plunging the country into a crisis by publishing false results and claimed that they wanted to prevent him from finishing second and advancing to the next round. He called for non-violent demonstrations.

Most observers said the election was marred by widespread irregularities, just as the first round had been badly handled. More than half of the 19 candidates demanded that the result be cancelled. The United States expressed its concern that the result did not reflect the vote count from one end of the country to the other. President Préval appealed for calm and defended the result. I should point out that Mr. Célestin is Mr. Préval's hand-picked successor.

As a result of the violence, the interim electoral council (CEP) announced last Thursday that it would initiate a special process to review the ballots in the counting centres. In short, there will be a recount. This will be done by a joint commission consisting of the CEP, the candidates for the presidency, and national and international observers.

The political crisis has been deepened by the fact that the first two candidates, Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly, have said they will not participate in the process. In view of the circumstances and as a result of the violence, Canada announced last Thursday that it was closing its embassy in Port-au-Prince for an indefinite period.

In light of this, Canada must help Haiti ensure that its presidential election procedures are clear and transparent. Haitians have a right to have a democratically elected president with a mandate from the people to address the major challenges facing their country. Canada must also tell the Haitian government that it is prepared to help with any requests for human and material resources to properly carry out the election.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs shared the reaction of the Canadian government and his serious concerns regarding the democratic situation in Haiti. His government's message is that the Canadian government must help Haiti hold a clear and transparent election and that it will do so through multilateral organizations such as the UN, CARICOM and the Organization of American States. He also said that the international community cannot do everything, that it is up to the Haitian government and the Haitian people to ensure that the democratic process prevails and the recount of the initial votes is conducted calmly, transparently and quickly. He also added that Canada has offered to participate in the process as part of a joint commission. Furthermore, the minister declared that there would be no economic progress in Haiti without a stable government.

As he stated previously, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has spoken with President René Préval and his Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Bellerive. He expressed his concerns about the electoral irregularities and encouraged them to do what is necessary to correct them.

However, Canada must not let this political crisis lead it to neglect the other problems in Haiti.

It is worth noting that the earthquake caused considerable damage and that the scope of the reconstruction effort is unprecedented. Keep in mind however that the earthquake exacerbated a situation that existed well before disaster struck. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, and its infrastructure is in many respects inadequate.

In 2009, the United Nations Development Program Poverty Index ranked Haiti 97th out of 137 countries. The scope of the reconstruction effort is commensurate with the poverty that existed in Haiti in terms of poor-quality building materials, the lack of a building code, no means of subsistence for a large segment of the population, and so on

The January 12 earthquake caused unparalleled damage: 222,570 people were killed and 300,000 injured; approximately 1.3 million people are still living in temporary shelters in the Port-au-Prince region and 600,000 escaped the disaster-stricken areas and sought refuge in other parts of the country; the capacity of the Haitian government was seriously diminished; it is estimated that approximately 60% of government, administrative, and economic infrastructure was destroyed; one-third of the 60,000 Haitian public servants died during the earthquake; over half of the 8,500 prisoners in Haiti escaped; 101 United Nations employees lost their lives; the court of justice, the departments of Justice and Public Safety, and the legislature were destroyed; over 105,000 houses were destroyed and more than 208,000 were damaged; 1.5 million people were left without homes; approximately 4,000 Haitian students died; and 1,234 schools were destroyed and 2,500 damaged.

The total damage is estimated at $7.9 billion: $4.3 billion in physical infrastructure damage and $3.5 billion in economic losses, which amounts to 120% of Haitian GNP; 70% of the damage affected the private sector.

The total funding required is $11.5 billion: 50% for social service sectors, 17% for infrastructure and housing and 15% for the environment and disaster risk management.

The Red Cross is working on providing aid to the Haitian people: 80,000 households have been given temporary housing; 95,000 people have received medical care; and 90,000 cubic meters of water have been distributed to 118 sites.

As a result of the earthquake, the legislative election scheduled for February 2010 had to be delayed, creating a climate of political uncertainty. President Préval wrote to the UN Secretary-General requesting that a study mission be commissioned to review options and potential timetables.

Overall, the situation has remained calm from a security standpoint. There has nevertheless being an increase in the number of sex crimes committed, most of them in camps for displaced persons.

The international community’s response in the wake of the earthquake appeared to be commensurate with the seriousness of the disaster. The scope of the reconstruction effort is, however, unparalleled. An independent expert, Michel Forst, who was commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council to write a report on the human rights situation in Haiti, stated that:

The international community’s response to the humanitarian crisis was immediate and massive, with a clear determination on the part of all countries to do their best to furnish speedy succour to the people. It was only gradually that the magnitude of the disaster and the numbers of direct and indirect victims were realized. Even though the coordination of the international aid has been criticized, it is too often forgotten that the international community was confronted with an unprecedented situation and had to adapt itself gradually to the country’s parameters.

We also need to ensure that the money promised by the donor countries is effectively distributed in Haiti.

Bear in mind that at the last Haiti Donors Conference, which was held in Washington in April 2009, only 30% of the promised funds had been transferred to Haiti.

In terms of Canadian aid, Haiti is second on the list of CIDA's priority countries. In 2006, the Canadian government committed to sending $555 million in development aid to Haiti from 2006 to 2011. According to CIDA, the six donor and project priorities in Haiti since January 12 are housing, debris removal, response to the natural disaster, education, health and agriculture.

Since the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010, the Government of Canada has announced a number of financial contributions to support humanitarian, recovery and reconstruction efforts in Haiti, in collaboration with its partners and the Haitian government. But many of these statements were contradictory. In some cases, it was not new money, but funds that had already been announced.

The Bloc Québécois cannot help but be disappointed and speak out against these repeated announcements of the same funds going into the various measures to aid Haiti. Quebeckers have clearly voiced their desire to assist Haitians in rising up again from this humanitarian crisis. We must not be stingy with our aid. We would have expected a firmer commitment from the Canadian government. It should have released more new money to help the Haitian people, who have already suffered too much.

For example, on July 12, 2010, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Cooperation announced that Canada would be giving Haiti a total of $1.1 billion. The timetable for that announcement started well before the earthquake, since it covers the period from 2006 to 2012.

This is how the $1.1 billion is being allocated. There will be $555 million from 2006 to 2011. In reality, the largest portion was spent before the earthquake, primarily to fund police and prison institutions, and the 2009 elections, which were massively boycotted. There was $400 million announced on March 31, 2010, and on July 12. It was promised that the funds would be paid out over the coming two years. That money is not needed in two years; it is needed immediately. There is $150 million for short-term aid following the earthquake. The reality is that the money has been paid out to organs of the UN and NGOs. It is difficult to confirm how much has been spent, and how. There was $30 to $45 million to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, money that is yet to be paid out; and $40 million for debt relief, a large portion of which dates from the era of the Duvalier dictatorship and had to be paid to international financial institutions. This is not earthquake-related aid.

As well, the federal government announced that it would match the $220 million donated by Canadians to NGOs during the period from January 12 to February 16, 2010.

On March 31, in New York, CIDA stated that half of the $220 million, $110 million, was included in the $400 million announced, which was part of the $1.1 billion. In other words, the Canadian government decided that $110 million in aid to Haiti would therefore not be new money; it would come out of money already announced.

During this time, Haiti was struck by further misfortune: cholera. On October 22, 2010, President René Préval confirmed the nightmare: the severe diarrhea epidemic afflicting the Artibonite region was indeed caused by cholera.

As we all know, cholera is a viral disease that causes vomiting and diarrhea leading to severe dehydration. Cholera can rapidly lead to death, but it can be easily treated with antibiotics and rehydration. The virus is spread by water and food that are contaminated by fecal matter. Since then, the morality rate has continued to rise.

According to the most recent report, to date, 93,222 Haitians have been affected by cholera and 2,120 have died from the disease. Doctors Without Borders has confirmed that it has treated over 16,500 people, but the magnitude of the challenge is huge.

This epidemic is spreading especially quickly because Haiti has no permanent infrastructure to help control its spread. There are desperate needs. Haiti needs soap, chlorine-treated water, toilets and proper waste disposal facilities. In the current situation, these basic needs are not being met.

In response to the cholera epidemic, aid has been a long time coming. In late November, one month after the beginning of the outbreak, the UN confirmed that it had received only $5 million of the $164 million promised by the international community.

This cholera epidemic is also at the root of the recent violence in Haiti. According to a specialist's report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the source of this epidemic can be traced back to peacekeepers from Nepal. The UN still refutes this assertion. Haitians are therefore blaming UN peacekeepers and the international community in general for this outbreak.

The violence is also preventing humanitarian aid from reaching its destination. According to Oxfam officials, violence has prevented that organization from effectively distributing soap, rehydration salts and clean water. The violence has also hampered public awareness campaigns on proper hygiene practices.

Canada and the international community must do everything they can to fight the cholera epidemic that is devastating that country, which has already suffered so much.

In closing, I would like to quote a few lines that appeared in an article in the Haiti Press Network, a few lines that speak volumes.

The week beginning this Monday will be whatever politics allows it to be. If the politicians, candidates, diplomats, leaders and demonstrators so choose, Haiti will experience a normal week...to allow students to write their exams and merchants to get out their Christmas and New Year's decorations.

Ladies and gentlemen, the country needs to breathe in an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation.