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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was benefits.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Saint-Lambert (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Quebec Adult Learners Week March 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, this week we are celebrating Quebec Adult Learners Week.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the courage of thousands of adults who return to school, whether to obtain more training, to learn a new trade or simply for personal satisfaction. The road is not always an easy one, but it is a rewarding one in terms of individual well-being and in terms of the social wealth and prosperity of the Quebec nation.

This year once again, Quebec Adult Learners Week was coordinated by the Institut de coopération pour l'éducation des adultes, ICEA, a grassroots organization that has been bringing together partners from all walks of life for over 60 years, in order to make training more accessible to adults. The slogan for this year's eighth edition is “1001 Ways of Learning!” and the ICEA has organized over 500 events across Quebec to celebrate.

I would like to applaud four literacy groups in Longueuil for their initiative: the IOTA club, Écrit Tôt, Boîte à lettres and Le Fablier, which will run an information booth at the Georges-Dor library.

Business of Supply March 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of continuing the use of ten percenters, keeping in mind that the purpose is to inform constituents of the issues that concern them and of bills we are discussing in the House and to allow party whips to send additional ten percenters to other ridings.

Business of Supply March 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, once again, I want to thank the hon. member for his comments.

I hope that everything that has been said today in the House about government waste will be heard by the government and that it will show some leadership to reduce this waste by cutting its own spending. Instead of “do as I say and not as I do”, I hope it will do what it takes as a government.

Business of Supply March 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments. I agree.

While the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance preach fiscal restraint, new revelations come to light every day about this government's excessive spending.

I am particularly disturbed by these actions when I think about my constituents. Many of my family members live on a very low income. I also worry about the fact that this federal government ignores thousands of unemployed workers, that many seniors still live below the poverty line, and that Quebec industries are struggling and have been forsaken, while this government continues to waste money.

Business of Supply March 15th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today given that the subject of the opposition motion being debated is extremely important.

The use of public funds is inevitably a highly charged issue and one that became the rallying cry for the American Revolution: no taxation without representation.

This issue was one of the main grievances of the American colonies with respect to the British Empire. It established what was to become a basic principle for all democracies: public funds belong to the people and it is up to them, through parliamentary representation, to decide their use.

The motion before the House raises essentially the same issues raised in those times because stating “no taxation without representation” is tantamount to stating that taxation is only legitimate if supported by the people.

Obviously, a number of the expenses referred to in the motion would not fly with the majority of families who, in many cases, must tighten their belts in order to make ends meet in these economic times.

My colleagues have discussed at length today the famous ten percenters, the mailings that parliamentarians are entitled to send every day to 10% of the residences in their riding. Conservative members have clearly used them for partisan purposes, which has tarnished our reputation, and this usage has lowered the tone of debate because both the arguments and the accusations made are unfounded or completely out of line.

Naturally, as we say in Quebec, we should not throw out the baby with the bath water. A very useful tool should not be abolished outright just because certain parties abuse it. We believe that we should take the time and make the effort to review the rules governing their use and to make the necessary changes. For example, all members, except for the whips of each party, should be prohibited from using this parliamentary privilege to send mailings to other ridings. In this way, we would ensure that these mailings are used, first and foremost, to inform the people we represent of the legislative work being done in Parliament and action taken in our ridings, and not to inundate citizens with partisan propaganda.

Furthermore, while no one can deny that misusing or abusing parliamentary householders is a waste of public funds, the fact remains that the large amounts of money involved—around $10 million in 2008-09, or four times more than what was spent four years earlier—are unfortunately just a drop in the bucket compared to the ocean of federal government squandering.

If anyone needs convincing, they just have to glance at the government's finances and the huge structural deficit that the Conservative government created by giving tax breaks to its friends in the oil industry and its cousins, the big banks. That $10 million suddenly does not seem to weigh so heavily in the balance, because the burden is so massive.

What does weigh heavily is the staggering 88% increase in government operating expenditures over the past 10 years. In that time, federal revenues have increased by only 45%.

These operating expenditures reached $55.6 billion in 2008-09, $26 billion more than in 1998-99.

Yet ostensibly, everything suggests that the government has no intention of seriously attacking this problem, except through flashy populist measures. Band-aid solutions will not conceal the awful structural deficit, for which this government is solely responsible, and which it underestimates year after year despite warnings from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, among others. In fact, the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed again last week what we had known for some time: the Conservative government is obviously just as skilled at hiding numbers as it is at censoring reports.

In any case, the government discredited itself during the 2008 election campaign, when the current Prime Minister said unequivocally that Canada would avoid the recession, that the people had nothing to worry about and that, on the contrary, they should be happy that they would be able to take advantage of the stock market crash to add to their stock portfolios.

Later on, that same fall, the Minister of Finance predicted that Canada would not only avoid the recession, but not run a deficit the following year. He then changed his mind and predicted a $39 billion deficit, only to change his mind again and predict a $56 billion deficit. So much for financial credibility.

The government was the only one surprised by this deficit, and the worst thing is that it is trying to download this deficit onto the middle class, those who have been hardest hit by this economic crisis we are just emerging from. The middle class must now deal with this waste of public funds.

Since we are talking about public funds, I cannot ignore the absolutely scandalous and shameful use of funds that do not even belong to the government. I am talking about employment insurance contributions. The government shamelessly admits, without even trying to justify its actions, that it plans to copy its Liberal predecessors and plunder $19 billion from the EI fund. That is not a waste of public funds. It is worse than that.

There is a word in French to describe “the taking of another person's property...by force or without their knowledge”, but it is not a parliamentary word. If the word is not parliamentary, then I wonder how we should classify this action, when the only way to describe it in the House is by using circumlocutions.

We can add that $19 billion between 2012 and 2015 to the $57 billion that the Liberal and Conservative governments took from workers against their will and without their knowledge.

Although they promised not to act like the nasty Liberals and to put a stop once and for all to this despicable practice that penalizes employers just as much as employees, the Conservatives are once again going after the middle class, since instead of increasing taxes on big corporations, banks, oil companies and the wealthy, they have chosen to dip into the pockets of workers and their employers, making employment insurance nothing more than a hidden tax.

It is one of the most regressive kinds of taxes. Because there are maximum insurable earnings beyond which workers no longer pay premiums, it seems that for the rich, these premiums represent a tiny portion of their salary, while for a worker who earns a regular wage, they currently represent 1.73% of that wage and soon will represent 2.33%.

It is also regressive for employers because a company, whether it is profitable or not, must contribute to employment insurance. This is not the case with taxes.

It is the same for both workers and employers. In these cases, it is a question of indiscriminate tax measures that in no way take into account the taxpayer's ability to contribute. The government would rather fire into the crowd, as they say.

And speaking of guns, we should talk about the gun registry, a registry that the Conservatives would like to get rid of because they say it costs too much. How much does the gun registry cost taxpayers each year? It costs $10 million, which is the exact amount spent on ten percenters sent to opposition ridings.

Essentially, the government is trying to tell us that it is more important to be able to inundate Quebeckers and Canadians with the worst kind of propaganda than to maintain a gun registry that is supported by police, lawyers, judges, Quebec's National Assembly, and many others.

It would rather take part in cheap attacks than maintain a tool that has proven its worth, that is consulted thousands of times a day and that has had a positive effect on the number of homicides committed with long guns, according to statistics on this issue.

It seems to me that the choice is obvious. It jumps off the page. It goes without saying. However, it does not seem to go without saying for the Conservatives, among others, who voted to scrap the gun registry. It is a choice they made and one that bears witness to their values.

It is not the Bloc Québécois's choice, nor is it what our electors, the people we represent and who contribute to the public treasury, want.

2010 Paralympic Winter Games March 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased today to rise in the House to acknowledge the Winter Paralympic Games.

For the tenth time, athletes from around the world will have the chance to show all the talent, courage and tenacity that got them to these Games.

This event represents a unique opportunity to recognize the contribution and involvement of hundreds of thousands of persons with disabilities in Quebec and Canadian society and to raise awareness about the difficulties and obstacles they constantly have to face.

Fortunately, these Paralympic Games provided an opportunity for the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a gesture that the Bloc Québécois applauds. Now the federal government, for the few aspects of the convention under its jurisdiction, has to make every effort to ensure concrete, tangible and prompt application of the fundamental principles in the convention, which it made a commitment to honour.

It is clear that despite the undeniable progress that has been made over the decades, the fact remains that persons with disabilities far too often face obstacles that prevent their full and complete integration and participation in society. They need to be given the means to enjoy, in full equality with their fellow citizens, the fundamental rights that should in principle govern their social relationships, but in practice are often violated.

The proof is in the statistics on poverty rates. They show that in 2007, more than 20% of persons with disabilities, or twice the Canadian average, lived in a low-income situation, with all the negative effects that entails, including the worst of all: exclusion.

It is crucial that we address the fundamental problem of accessibility when it comes to infrastructure, principles and open-mindedness. This begins with ensuring the persons with disabilities are involved in all aspects of social life and, more importantly, in the development of public policies that affect them.

I hope these athletes can serve as an example and a source of inspiration to all Quebeckers and Canadians, whether they live with a disability or not, because their experience commands respect and admiration.

Employment Insurance March 9th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, seasonal workers in two Canadian regions will be denied employment insurance benefits if the government does not take action. Transitional measures are due to expire on April 10. These measures have already been renewed several times.

Will the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development turn these transitional measures into permanent measures to prolong benefits for workers in the regions that were penalized when the map of economic regions was changed in 2000?

Employment Insurance March 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the government is preparing to help itself to another $19 billion or so over five years from the employment insurance fund. To defend this pillaging, it argues that it is shouldering the $10 billion deficit in the EI fund. Talk about bad faith.

While refusing to tax the wealthiest people and the oil companies, the government is essentially proposing to deprive workers of $9 billion that could be used to enhance the EI program.

When will the government stop misappropriating contributions to the EI fund?

Employment Insurance March 8th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, while the economic recovery may be underway, the employment crisis is continuing. Now, more than ever, the employment insurance system has to be reformed to be made more accessible. According to the human resources department's website, barely 45% of unemployed people manage to qualify for employment insurance. Women are even worse off, with two out of three unemployed women not having access to employment insurance.

What is the government waiting for to ensure that the EI program is a true insurance program against job loss?

Social Housing December 4th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, for the first time, the federal minister is taking part in the housing ministers meeting. Now she needs to free up some new funds for social housing.

Will the minister commit to paying the $269 million already promised to Quebec, and will she make a long-term commitment regarding funding for social housing?