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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

Privilege December 13th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. I simply want to inform you that the Bloc Québécois supports the initiative of the member for Scarborough—Guildwood. We want to shed light on the funding that was granted or not granted as well as the various statements regarding KAIROS.

With your leave, we will come back to this issue tomorrow with our own observations.

Guy Rondeau December 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on October 29, many people in Huberdeau gathered to celebrate the fact that Dr. Guy Rondeau has been practising in their area for 50 years. A small ad that ran in Le Devoir led Dr. Rondeau to this small community in the Laurentians.

There were many pressing needs in this rural region in the 1960s, which meant that this doctor had to wear many hats. His main areas of expertise are surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry and gynecology.

In addition to wearing all of those hats, the doctor had this to say about his other duties: “I was often the ambulance, driving labouring women or victims of car accidents to the hospital. And I also made numerous house calls.” He likes to laugh about it now.

For all the patients he has taken care of, all the babies he has delivered, all the services he has provided and his outstanding dedication, I want to join the people of Huberdeau in wholeheartedly thanking Dr. Rondeau and his assistant and wife, Céline Tassé.

Nathalie Morin November 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, for the first time since she was taken captive with her three children in Saudi Arabia by her abusive husband, Nathalie Morin was able to access the Internet. She used the opportunity to write to the Prime Minister and request that he ask Saudi Arabian authorities for her repatriation.

All Nathalie Morin received in return was a mocking response thanking her for taking the time to write to the Prime Minister. What a lack of compassion! The Prime Minister responded to a distress call by simply sending an acknowledgement of receipt, and in English no less!

Why does the Prime Minister refuse to demand that Nathalie Morin be repatriated?

Foreign Affairs November 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, after cutting bilateral development aid to a number of African countries and closing many embassies on that continent, the government is preparing to close embassies in four other African countries, including Cameroon and Tunisia. While China is investing heavily in Africa and a number of countries are noticing its cultural and economic potential, Canada is turning its back on Africa. How short-sighted.

Will the government give us the facts? Will it keep its embassies in Africa?

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments, but I want to remind him what today's motion is about.

What we are criticizing is the fact that his government disregarded our parliamentary responsibilities. The Prime Minister committed and even promised the members of this House that there would be a vote if the mission in Afghanistan were to be extended or transformed. What we see now is that the government took advantage of our absence to announce that it was extending the mission in Afghanistan to 2014.

We were elected to represent the Canadian public. We are talking about taxpayers' money. This kind of decision is not legitimate unless Parliament is consulted. That is what we are demanding with this motion, that the House be consulted and that there be a vote on the Conservative government's decision.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my speaking time with the member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher.

We would not be here today debating this motion if the government had kept its word. What this government is doing is showing its contempt for parliamentary democracy, as it has done so well since it came to power. According to the Prime Minister, a vote in Parliament is not necessary for extending the mission of the Canadian troops in Afghanistan. On this he is contradicting himself, because in the 2007 Speech from the Throne, this very Prime Minister said that “our Government has made clear to Canadians and our allies that any future military deployments must also be supported by a majority of parliamentarians.”

We, the Bloc Québécois members of this House, demand that a vote be held on this crucial question. The federal government absolutely must obtain authorization from Parliament before deploying troops abroad, because excluding parliamentarians, the people’s elected representatives, amounts to a denial of democratic principles.

With no debate and with no vote in the House, the Canadian government has decided to maintain a presence in Kabul consisting of 950 troops, who will have responsibility for training the Afghan security forces. The government wants to sound reassuring, by saying that the members of the Canadian Armed Forces who remain in Afghanistan will not take part in combat missions. But how can he claim to know the future and to be sure that the insurgents will draw a bright line between the peaceful role of the Canadian Armed Forces and the offensive troops?

The Conservatives are contradicting themselves. In early 2010, the Prime Minister and members of his government declared that Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan would end in 2011 and Canadian involvement would be limited to development, governance, humanitarian assistance and training police. But now, in spite of everything it said in the past, the government is changing its tune and deciding to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan without consulting the public or their elected representatives.

The strategy the Conservatives have discovered for getting out of this, at least for avoiding a vote, is the discovery of the century. They are inventing a new type of mission, a non-combat mission. What is a non-combat mission? I happen to believe that there are two types of missions: military missions and peacekeeping missions. The Conservatives have become experts in semantic game-playing, a bright idea for evading the rules of this House and for not calling a vote.

In addition, the Prime Minister and his Minister of Foreign Affairs are becoming even more confrontational with the opposition, contending that all Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan will be brought home by March 2014 at the latest. Once again, a promise they cannot keep and a commitment they cannot honour. They truly have no credibility and the public is not fooled.

The Liberal Party members are also complicit in the extension of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. In 2006, when there was a vote on extending the mission, it was the votes of several Liberal members that made it possible for the mission to be extended until 2009. In 2008, the Conservatives introduced a motion, amended by the Liberals, to extend the mission to 2011. Once again, the Liberals lined up with the Conservatives. We can see that they have the same vision and the same philosophy.

Canada can bring a lot to the Afghan people. While the Bloc Québécois feels that Canada has done more than its share militarily and that other allied countries can perhaps take over its role, we believe that Canada can get involved at a number of other levels.

Canadian police officers are renowned the world over. The Bloc Québécois therefore recommends sending a contingent of up to 50 police officers to provide training to Afghan police. The presence of a trained, equipped, legitimate police force may help reduce the lack of security of the Afghan people.

According to all reports, there are major deficiencies in the Afghan prison system, as is clear from the issue of Afghan detainees abused in Afghan jails.

According to NATO:

To western standards, conditions of many detention/correction facilities vary from inadequate to extremely poor in some places.

As a result, the Bloc Québécois is suggesting that the wardens of Afghan prisons receive support from Canadian assistant wardens. We are therefore recommending sending 50 civilians from the Canadian prison system.

Trust in the legal system is one of the bases of a lawful society. NATO revealed that:

The Afghans prize the system’s notion of “fairness” and prefer the use of the informal system, as the formal governmental system is perceived as highly corrupt.

To provide training for the Afghan legal system and to ensure that it functions properly, the Bloc Québécois proposes sending a delegation of Canadian legal experts who can help with the modernization of the legal system. The Bloc Québécois also believes that Canada must continue its official development assistance in Afghanistan and feels that the Minister of International Cooperation's announcement to reduce the ODA envelope by more than half from 2011 to 2014 is unacceptable.

As well, the Canadian government and CIDA must review the policy on development aid to Afghanistan. It must be better coordinated, more transparent and efficient. The ODA must also be restructured because, in the past seven years, 80% of international aid bypassed the Afghan government and was not strictly in line with this government's priorities.

We are here today to vote on a motion that condemns the government's decision to unilaterally extend the Canadian mission in Afghanistan until 2014. That is the Conservative way, and it has not changed since they came to power. Canada's foreign policy has shifted to the right, and we no longer hear about the 3D approach: development, defence and diplomacy. The government's three priorities now are security, prosperity and governance. The government dictates Canada's foreign policy in keeping with its economic and military priorities.

It allocates exorbitant amounts to defence and peanuts to development assistance. The Conservatives' diplomatic record is abysmal. It is no wonder this government lost its seat on the UN Security Council as a direct result of its foreign policy. But Canada enjoys a good reputation within NATO, which is understandable because NATO is a military alliance. Canada has invested heavily in military procurement for the past few years.

The Conservatives' militaristic policy is not in line with Quebeckers' values. The vast majority of Quebeckers are opposed to Canada's presence in Afghanistan.

According to a Harris/Decima poll conducted during the week of November 11, 59% of respondents in Quebec think Canada should bring all its troops home, and only 36% want the Canadian army to help train Afghan soldiers.

Clearly, the Conservative members from Quebec are out of touch with their constituents' concerns and are not standing up for their interests within this government.

I will close by inviting all the members of the House to vote for our motion, because any deployment of Canadian troops must by subject to a vote in the House of Commons.

Rights & Democracy November 23rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the board of Rights & Democracy is accountable to Parliament for its management. As parliamentarians, we have the right to know what is going on in that organization. Yet the board of Rights & Democracy still has not released the Deloitte & Touche audit report. Talk about a lack of transparency.

Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs continue to put up with such questionable conduct?

Universal Children's Day November 18th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, November 20 is Universal Children's Day, which marks the signing of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

Although it signed these agreements, this Conservative government has reneged on its commitments numerous times. It capped development funding in its 2010 budget, breaking its promise to invest 0.7% of its GDP in order to achieve the millennium development goals, six of which concern children. As well, in 2009, the Conservatives abandoned Africa by amending the list of priority countries receiving international aid, which affected some of the poorest populations. Children will lose the most.

This Conservative government has also violated the rights of child soldier Omar Khadr, creating a dangerous precedent.

Reneging on commitments like this is simply shameful. When the Conservatives were denied a seat on the UN Security Council, they got proof that the international community will not stand for their flippant behaviour.

Mont Tremblant International Airport November 17th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I would like to clarify what my colleague said about sound management of tax dollars.

I would like to remind him that his government gave $2.7 million in subsidies to help develop this airport. It must be consistent, given that the airlines that bring foreign tourists in the winter are also interested in having the same service in tourist season, in the summer and fall. There is currently a hold on new contracts with these airlines. The fact that customs charges are collected in the summer and fall means that the airport is not competitive in terms of the services it could offer to airlines.

The government has invested $2.7 million to improve infrastructure. If it is a good manager, it will ensure that the airport has every advantage.

Mont Tremblant International Airport November 17th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on September 23, I asked the Minister of Public Safety to respect the unanimous will of the House of Commons and act on a motion moved by the Bloc Québécois in June 2008, recognizing the Mont Tremblant International Airport of La Macaza as an airport of entry into the country without customs charges, as is the case with the airports in Montreal and Quebec City. This recognition is vital to the expansion of the airport and the region.

The government continues to insist on maintaining the customs charges on flights outside the winter season.

I would like to remind the Minister of Public Safety that following the unanimous adoption of this motion, his colleague, the Minister of State for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, went to this airport in July 2009, or a year after the motion was adopted, to announce a subsidy of $2.7 million from the Economic Development Agency of Canada for airport infrastructure improvements.

During that announcement, the minister said, “The Mont-Tremblant airport is an important gateway to the Hautes-Laurentides and its infrastructure is in need of improvement in order to further the region's tourism development and economic diversification”.

Since that time, a number of improvements have been made and others are under way to increase the airport's capacity to 5,000 flights per year and the number of potential passengers to nearly 25,000. This would foster year-round destination tourism.

If the government wishes to be consistent, it cannot give with one hand and take away with the other. The Minister of Public Safety must eliminate the customs charges at this airport during the other nine months of the year. Does the minister realize that by maintaining the customs charges for the rest of the year he is putting a damper on potential agreements with international carriers for peak tourism periods during the summer and fall seasons?

This airport is entitled to get what it needs to be more competitive all year round. The tourism industry operates year-round in the Laurentians, not just in the winter.

In closing, following the unanimous adoption of the motion by the House in June 2008, the Conservative government recognized that the Mont Tremblant International Airport of La Macaza is an international airport.

In a press release issued by his department in June 2008, which stated that his government had signed an agreement with this airport concerning the provision of border clearance services, the minister said, “Providing border clearance services to the Rivière Rouge/Mont Tremblant International airport will allow the airport to be more competitive by attracting more international flights.” He added, “Publicly funding border services to this airport recognizes the value of the tourism industry in this region.” That is the Haute-Laurentides or Upper Laurentians region.

In view of the minister's statements, I would like to know why the Minister of Public Safety is not providing border clearance services on a year-round basis at this airport that operates 365 days a year?

Does he realize that he is hurting the region's tourism industry and its economic prosperity by failing to do so?