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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

Michelle Bachelet October 6th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would like to pay tribute to an admirable politician, Michelle Bachelet. She is a trailblazer, becoming Chile's first female defence minister in 2002, first female president in 2006, and first female president elected by universal suffrage in South America.

She describes herself as a woman, a socialist, an agnostic and a divorcee and says these are four deadly sins in Chile. Her father was in the military and she herself was imprisoned and tortured under Pinochet. She lived in exile in Germany where she studied medicine. She returned to Chile in 1979.

During her visit here this week, she was awarded the Prix International courage au féminin by Reporters Without Borders, which recognizes “women who continuously fight for the respect of liberties and for the most fundamental human rights.” This morning, she was given the medal of honour by the National Assembly of Quebec in recognition of her political and social commitment. She is—

Foreign Affairs October 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, one of Canada's former ambassadors to the United Nations Security Council has revealed that the Prime Minister tried to muzzle Canadian diplomats by asking them to refrain from participating in UN negotiations on human rights, and to avoid using terms such as “equality between men and women” and “international humanitarian law”, which are values that are largely shared and defended by the people of Quebec.

Does the Prime Minister realize that these revelations will only worsen Canada's already fragile candidacy for the Security Council?

Rights & Democracy September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, Rights & Democracy is an organization created by the government. It is supposed to be independent. But last year, the Conservatives took over, appointing their friends and imposing a radical ideological shift in favour of Israel.

When will this government stop diverting government resources for its own partisan and ideological purposes?

Rights & Democracy September 27th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, first the government took over Rights & Democracy by manufacturing a crisis and stacking the board of directors, and now a former Conservative candidate has just been hired. The president of the organization, a former Canadian Alliance organizer and candidate himself, will be making the announcement soon.

Does the government simply see Rights & Democracy as a haven for Conservatives who appoint and hire other Conservatives?

Mont Tremblant International Airport September 23rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on June 18, 2010, the House of Commons unanimously adopted a Bloc Québécois motion recognizing the Mont Tremblant International Airport 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.

So why does the Minister of Public Safety insist on maintaining customs charges on international flights during the summer?

Millennium Summit September 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, one way to improve the living conditions of women is to ensure better family planning. But because of this government's ideological obsession, it refused to allow access to abortion to be discussed at the G8 and G20 summits. In addition, funding for the International Planned Parenthood Federation was suspended.

How can the Prime Minister think that his party's fundamentalists are more important than women's health?

Millennium Summit September 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, one of the millennium development goals is to promote gender equality and empower women. However, the Conservative government has cut funding to women's rights groups, and refuses to implement a mechanism to ensure pay equity for women. Canada has the largest gender wage gap of any industrialized country.

How can the Prime Minister claim to support the millennium development goals, when he has nothing but contempt for women's right to equality?

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act September 20th, 2010

Madam Speaker, first of all, I want to say welcome back to all of my colleagues, to you, and to the House staff.

I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-300 on this first day back. The Bloc Québécois will support this bill, because it is a first step in the right direction. Unfortunately, there are not currently any mechanisms to adequately regulate the activities of Canadian mining, oil and gas companies abroad. This is a senseless situation that must be changed. We know full well that Canada is a world leader in the mining industry, and Canadian companies must set an example.

The vast majority of Canadian mining companies that operate abroad are respectful of the local populations and the environment. However, it is clear that for several years, Canadian mining companies have been directly or indirectly associated with forced relocations of communities, major environmental disasters, support for repressive regimes and serious human rights violations. Some companies even hire armed groups, such as militias or security agencies, to protect them.

Far too many conflicts still exist between communities and mining companies, and far too many human rights advocates are still being abused psychologically, kidnapped and sometimes even murdered.

Extraction practices need to be regulated so that they pose no threat to the sustainable development of local populations or their health and safety.

Those are several reasons why Canadian companies should be held accountable for the impact of their overseas activities. The Bloc Québécois is recommending a clear, independent and transparent process to ensure accountability and to monitor Canadian companies' compliance with accountability standards.

We are debating Bill C-300 and its amendments today because we need to act quickly. There are far too many people affected by the negligence of some Canadian companies to ignore such a serious issue. Yes, there are currently some serious gaps. And we did not make them up: numerous people spoke to this on a number of occasions before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Like many of my colleagues, I repeatedly met with many individuals and with members of civil society organizations working in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia and Africa, where the people have been affected by the questionable behaviour of some Canadian mining companies. Their testimonies were all marked by deep distress, great suffering and injustice.

Bill C-300 is a rudimentary legislative tool, and while it is debatable, it is still high time that Canadian parliamentarians pass legislation to regulate the activities of Canadian mining, oil and gas companies working overseas. The Canadian government has its head in the sand if it believes that the voluntary measures it has proposed are effective deterrents. This government is refusing any form of legal regulation of Canadian companies, saying that monitoring is the host countries' responsibility, even though they do not possess the resources needed to manage the situation.

These countries and the mining industry need to make sure that natural resources help reduce poverty and promote economic and social development. The government should exert more control over these companies' practices and give Canadian investments abroad the tools they need to ensure that these companies' activities truly benefit the people of these countries.

The government should recognize that this situation is serious and adopt measures that require mining companies to operate responsibly. The government appears to be downplaying the social, environmental and human rights impacts that these companies' practices and activities have.

This debate has been going on for too long. In 2005, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development released a report entitled “Mining in Developing Countries - Corporate Social Responsibility”. Three of the recommendations in the standing committee's report proposed specific objectives relating to the Canadian government's responsibility to monitor and exert greater control over the activities of Canadian mining companies abroad.

Two recommendations concerned the importance of establishing clear legal standards for accountability and developing mechanisms to monitor the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries.

At the time, a number of Canadian NGOs called the committee's recommendations “a real breakthrough”.

As we all know, the then government's response was deeply disappointing because it was interested only in voluntary measures.

In its response, the government agreed to organize a series of round tables to study in greater depth the issues that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development raised in its report. Four round tables were held from June to November of 2006 in four different cities: Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. Participation levels were high: 104 briefs were submitted, 156 oral presentations were given and 57 experts were invited to participate. Members of the public and experts spoke for a total of 101 hours.

Following this extensive consultation, the members of the advisory group, the Canadian and Quebec NGOs, and the experts managed to come to an agreement with a good part of the Canadian mining industry. They published a report on March 29, 2007, in which they asked the Canadian government to immediately adopt a set of standards establishing a corporate social responsibility framework for Canadian mining, oil and gas companies operating abroad. These recommendations are the result of a consensus between civil society and the extractive sector.

The report recommends the establishment of a corporate social responsibility framework for the extractive sector.

In addition, it recommends the appointment of an independent ombudsman to handle complaints about the activities of Canadian extractive companies abroad, the establishment of a tripartite committee—consisting of members of government, civil society and the extractive industry—to monitor compliance with standards, and the establishment of an advisory group to provide advice to government on improving corporate social responsibility.

The report recommends that offending companies no longer be entitled to tax benefits, loan guarantees and other forms of government assistance.

It took the Conservative government two years to respond to the round table report. The Conservative government chose to ignore the recommendations made by the parliamentarians and advisory group members who took part in the round tables and instead set up a bogus agency that will not impose any rules or consequences on companies that pollute or infringe on human rights. The government's decision to rely on voluntary measures and its refusal to adopt effective sanctions make the communities affected by mining projects even more vulnerable.

The Bloc Québécois has always defended the need for social responsibility standards for corporations working abroad and for that reason we are in favour of the principle of Bill C-300. We have frequently denounced the overseas activities of Canadian extractive companies that violate human rights and compromise the sustainable development of local populations.

In closing, Bill C-300 makes it possible to continue the debate about the social responsibility of Canadian mining, oil and gas companies abroad. A number of groups have mobilized to voice their support for Bill C-300. Civil society has taken this opportunity to inform parliamentarians and the public of the need to monitor the overseas activities of mining companies.

International Co-operation June 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, non-governmental organizations that offer services promoting maternal health in other countries fear that their budgets will be slashed by the Conservative government if they continue to offer abortion-related services.

Will the government set aside its backwards ideology and commit to not slashing funding to NGOs that offer abortion-related services and information in developing countries?

International Co-operation June 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, maternal and child health are part of the commitments made by Canada at the Millennium Summit in 2000. Instead of respecting the commitments we made, the Conservative government has frozen international assistance.

In light of the Conservatives' broken promises, how can we believe that they will respect the commitment they claim to have made to maternal and child health?