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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was workers.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Jonquière (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2019, with 25% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Status of Women May 2nd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, women across the country who are victims of violence are being refused access to shelters because of a lack of resources and funding.

The Prime Minister is very outspoken about his feminism, but he seems to be much more timid when it comes time to ask questions and take action to improve the status of women.

The government's inaction is putting women in need in a vulnerable situation.

Will the government commit to rectifying this situation and giving shelters the resources and funding they need to do their work?

Labour May 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, thousands of people have come together today to mark International Workers' Day.

As elected officials, it is our duty to improve their future, but the government has failed to deliver. Take, for example, the Phoenix fiasco, the ongoing wage gap between men and women, the special legislation for Canada Post, the uncertainty in the steel, aluminum and forestry industries, and the pensions that were stolen from Sears pensioners and others. The NDP stands with workers.

When will the Prime Minister stop trampling workers' right and take action on their behalf?

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1 April 30th, 2019

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

I spoke about infrastructure in the budget. We have been seeing the same thing since 2015. I mentioned a number of municipalities in my riding in my speech. I have been talking with their mayors since 2015. We spent the past two weeks in our ridings. Our rural communities are not seeing any money for infrastructure, even though that is important. National budgets should not be designed just to please multibillionaires or companies like Loblaws, which received $12 million to buy new fridges.

The government needs to invest directly in our communities. There are some very worthwhile projects in my riding of Jonquière, but they are not receiving any funding. I am not the one saying that. The people in my riding tell me that when I meet with them and when I run into them on the weekends.

There are projects on the table, but no money is forthcoming. We are not seeing any investments in infrastructure in our rural communities, including Jonquière, where such investments are badly needed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1 April 30th, 2019

I thank my colleague for her question. I know she came to cycle the Véloroute des Bleuets in my riding a few years ago. It is a very beautiful area, and well worth the visit, not only in summer but also in winter, especially for ice fishing.

I did talk about supply management in my speech. The Liberals and the Prime Minister himself have been to my region on several occasions. They met with dairy farmers and UPA members and promised them there would be no breaches in supply management. They said farmers could count on the Liberals to protect them.

Unfortunately, there have been three trade deals and three breaches in supply management. I cannot emphasize enough that our farmers are the ones who feed us, with the fruits of their own labour. I was with them again last Sunday for the UPA brunch, and I was able to speak with several dairy farmers. They are really disappointed. Yes, the budget does mention that something will be done to support supply management and maintain the system for our dairy farmers. However, no amount or timeframe is indicated. There is no budget or amount mentioned.

The uncertainty continues.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1 April 30th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am fortunate to rise today in the House to speak to the 2019 budget. This is not just the 2019 budget, because the story of this budget is also the story of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 budgets. It is the disappointing story of a government that failed four times to meet the expectations and needs of Quebec's regions, including my region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.

Instead, the government constantly makes decisions that benefit the wealthy and the Liberals' friends, who often have access to the Prime Minister's Office. Not everyone is that fortunate. This leads me to the current budget. The government has once again missed its chance to solve several problems affecting the people of my riding of Jonquière, which I have represented for more than four years.

I have risen dozen of times in the House to ask the government about supply management, hoping to ensure that dairy farmers are not used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations and to demand compensation for farmers who are sacrificed. After three extremely harmful agreements and years of pressure, in this budget, the government only announced funds for dairy farmers, but gave no details or deadlines. The uncertainty continues.

It is outrageous that this government has used its time in office to undermine supply management and now refuses to fix it. It needs to act now, before all our farms go bankrupt, gutting our rural communities and jeopardizing our food sovereignty in the process. While reading this budget, I certainly expected more from a government led by a Prime Minister who came to my region in person to make promises he never really intended to keep.

Do my colleagues know that the second-largest employer in my riding, with over 1,000 workers and a $40-million payroll, is the Jonquière Tax Centre? This is money that the federal government injects directly into the regional economy every year, so it is vital to ensure not only that these workers keep their jobs, but that the centre's future is secure.

I can assure the House that I will continue to defend these good jobs and make sure they are not taken away. Unlike some people, I will not pander for votes with unrealistic proposals that actually harm our region.

In this budget, the government announced an investment of $34 million over five years to create new jobs processing personal tax returns. That aligns perfectly with the mission of the Jonquière Tax Centre. I am going to keep working hard to make sure Jonquière gets its fair share.

In 2016, I was one of the most vocal MPs drawing attention to the importance of doing something about the expiration of the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber agreement. Together with workers and the industry, we urged the government to leverage its strong relationship with the Obama administration to resolve the issue. The government was unable to do so. On countless occasions, we called on the government to implement a proper plan B to support forestry jobs and our businesses. Our regional competitiveness is at stake.

In Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean alone, over 10,000 jobs hang in the balance, but the Liberals keep failing at every turn. Time after time, the government has offered up excuses. Thousands of workers protested in the streets, but the government has never managed to grasp the full impact of U.S. countervailing duties on regions such as Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean.

What does budget 2019 do to protect workers in the likely event that the conflict grinds on for years? There have been a few initiatives here, a few funding announcements there, but nowhere near enough to make anyone forget that the government seems powerless to resolve an issue that has been dragging on for almost three years.

The government never misses an opportunity to boast about its approach to infrastructure, but after four years in office and four budgets, most communities have not even seen any benefits from it, since the government chose to delay the investments, as always. I am wondering what good it does to make promises or allocate money in budgets if the communities cannot use that money immediately. Did the Prime Minister not say that he wanted to take advantage of low interest rates?

The needs are great in ridings like Jonquière, whether in the city of Jonquière, Larouche, Laterrière, Saint-Honoré, Saint-David-de-Falardeau, Saint-Fulgence, Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, Saint-Ambroise, Bégin, Saint-Charles-de-Bourget, Saint-Nazaire, Labrecque or Lamarche. Unfortunately, people will remember budget 2019 as the Liberals' last budget, the budget that did little to help provide infrastructure for our rural municipalities.

The Prime Minister needs to stop playing fast and loose with the regions. Since 2017, I have been calling on the government to do something about the icebreaker file, to no avail. Two years later, the ships of companies like Rio Tinto and Resolute Forest Products are still getting stuck in the ice sometimes. That is happening because the government has not freed up any funding to renew the Coast Guard's icebreaker fleet, which is responsible for keeping the Saguenay River open. It unacceptable that the region is being temporarily cut off from shipping.

The government mismanaged this file and missed its chance to bring in a coherent, properly funded strategy to resolve the problem once and for all. This further illustrates the Prime Minister's lack of interest in rural communities.

How are the regions going to succeed in fighting climate change? That is the type of question we were hoping would be answered in the budget of a self-proclaimed green government. We all agree that the fight against climate change has to be a priority, but it also has to be well thought out so that all regions, including Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, benefit from the jobs created in the green economy. After four years and four budgets, there is nothing to show for all the government's promises to the regions. It is impossible to develop a unifying strategy unless the regions are invited to join the discussion and be part of the solution in the fight against climate change. That is my priority, but clearly the government feels otherwise.

After being disappointed by four consecutive budgets, the region is going to think that the Liberal government has met very few expectations during its term, even though it had promised the moon. This government is constantly in reaction mode instead of being a true proactive leader. This lack of vision prevents innovative measures from promoting economic development in the regions, like Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, which is a shame. The people of this region deserve better.

The Liberals have tried to shift to the left in recent elections by stealing many ideas from the NDP. Unfortunately, they forgot to steal our values, like fighting for social justice, equality and the most vulnerable citizens. These values require policies and budgets that invest in human beings and not just multi-billion dollar corporations.

By investing in people, we can move society forward and continue to grow our regions and our communities. The Liberals cannot see that. Canadians and workers should know that they can always count on the NDP to be on their side.

Business of Supply April 29th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. He is doing excellent work. He sits on many committees and is very involved.

Pharmacare is really important to us. Several studies have already been done. In the last budget, the government told us that it was in place, that it was starting to look at it and begin consultations. I even heard some of my colleagues across the aisle say that the government was on the right track. However, that is not enough. We must act right now. I have had an opportunity to meet with some people, including a woman who had to remortgage her house because her prescription drugs are too expensive.

Saying that the government is going to do a study is not enough. In the meantime, the government needs to introduce policies that help Canadians. Universal pharmacare is one such policy. The government must have a much broader vision, one that goes much further than simply saying it is going to do a study. We have had plenty of studies and submissions on this topic.

I hope universal pharmacare becomes a reality, and I hope the government will bring in measures that really make a difference for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Business of Supply April 29th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss some issues I have not had a chance to talk about yet.

I remember the 2015 campaign very well. Even the Liberals promised people the moon. They claimed they were going to run a tiny little deficit. They promised all kinds of funding for infrastructure. Municipalities in my riding are still waiting for that money. Projects are in limbo and cannot proceed. People believed those promises. Promise after promise has been broken. There is no money and no investment.

Upping the ante and painting a rosy picture during election campaigns is nice and all, but I think the people who go to the polls in 2019 will not be fooled. They will do their homework and realize that all the promises made in 2015 were nothing but castles in the air.

Business of Supply April 29th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to speak to the motion moved today by my colleague from Elmwood—Transcona. I know he works very hard in his riding and is very close to his constituents.

Every month, I receive dozens of meeting requests from lobbyists from various sectors. I can only imagine how many requests the ministers and the Prime Minister must receive. In the case of the SNC-Lavalin affair, for instance, where attempts were made to help the company avoid a criminal trial, the Prime Minister's Office and various departments had dozens of meetings.

In Ottawa, lobbying has grown out of control since the Liberals took office. Lobbyists with Liberal ties can boast of having greater access to the highest echelons of government. In fact, the number of communications reported by lobbyists with federal government representatives has almost doubled since the Liberals took office. Corporate executives and their lobbyists have too much access to and influence over the Canadian government. In many cases, this sets working Canadians back.

Take Loblaws for example. It posted nearly $800 million in profits in 2018, and it received $12 million to help convert the refrigeration systems in its stores across Canada. The government gives huge gifts to its rich friends while everyone else has to pay even more. That money should be going to small and medium-sized enterprises, average Canadians and workers instead of multi-millionaire companies. The government should claw back those millions of dollars and invest them elsewhere.

Ridings like Jonquière are in desperate need. Unfortunately, the Liberal government keeps subsidizing big oil and gas companies to keep them operating. It puts the interests of businesses ahead of protecting Canada's Pacific coastal waters in the Kinder Morgan pipeline approval process. It also prefers to give $12 million to a multi-billion dollar company, Loblaws, which is owned by one of the richest families in Canada, the Weston family. That money should be going directly to the public. I have a lot of ideas for the government to consider, especially when it comes to investments.

We just went back to our ridings for two weeks. I got to participate in several activities and hold quality meetings with Jonquière residents. It is a big riding, but I am always honoured and happy to meet with my constituents.

During the past two weeks, I heard a lot about the Liberal government's bad decisions, especially the one to give Loblaws $12 million to buy fridges. In several municipalities in my riding, there are small independent grocery stores struggling to stay afloat. These stores are local services that often serve as community hubs, but sadly, some of them have been forced to close down due to a lack of funding.

It would have been a lifeline for these small grocery stores to receive financial assistance to help improve Canadians' quality of life. Quality of life and local services are important for our municipalities. This money would have been put to better use on that, rather than helping a big grocery chain like Loblaws. There are urgent needs in municipalities like mine, and many of them could have benefited from this $12 million, as I just demonstrated with a concrete example.

Furthermore, we have had discussions in the House about problems with the Phoenix pay system. This is another problem that has yet to be fixed and that affects workers who are trying to support their families. This affects 1,000 jobs in Jonquière, which is significant.

Other employment sectors have been affected by this problem. I have spoken to bus drivers at the Bagotville military base who drive cadets back to their camp in the summer. Many of them have not received a dime.

The NDP used one of its opposition days to move a motion calling on the government to compensate those affected and to take the measures required to effectively fix the situation.

I still get constituents coming into my office to tell me that they have not been paid. They are not getting paid for the hours they worked. This has caused many problems, as we have seen. Some workers are going four, five, six or even eight months without receiving the amount they are due, the pay they worked for. Some of them have had problems with their mortgages. This has even broken up families.

Pension theft is another problem. The government could have taken the $12 million and eliminated pension theft. How many times have we asked this government questions in the House?

I met with people from my riding after Sears closed. Last weekend, someone told me that he is not receiving a certain percentage of his pension. This man worked his whole life thinking that he could relax and enjoy his retirement. Now, he is struggling to make ends meet. It is not right for people who worked hard their entire lives and contributed to a pension plan to be told when it comes time to retire that they will be receiving 30% less than they expected.

I would like to remind members that the $12 million was invested in a very successful company. I spoke about buying groceries, and we talk a lot about affordable housing. In my riding of Jonquière, there are two Loge m'entraide projects. The Coopérative d'habitation La Solidarité could very easily be set up in Jonquière. Such a housing project would give many families and people living alone a place to live. The right to housing is an issue that we talk about regularly here in the House, but it seems to be a dialogue of the deaf.

Organizations such as Loge m'entraide do not have the funding necessary to build and run a co-operative. The government is always announcing measures, but I do not understand why Loge m'entraide is still saying in statements and interviews that it has not seen any of that money. Unfortunately, the project has still not been carried out. We are talking about a lot of people who are alone and who have to consistently use food banks to be able to pay for their housing.

I still have a lot to say, but my time is quickly running out.

That said, one thing is for certain: an NDP government would invest in people rather than giving money to millionaire friends, like the Liberals are currently doing. Human welfare is important, and an NDP government would take that into account.

Petitions April 29th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present several petitions signed by women from my riding of Jonquière regarding universal access to employment insurance.

EI unfairly penalizes women in terms of their access to benefits. Only 35.2% of unemployed women are eligible for regular EI benefits, compared to 52.5% of unemployed men. We are calling on the Government of Canada to enhance the current EI system to ensure universal access to it and, above all, to help all women so that absences related to pregnancy, maternity or parental responsibilities do not prevent access to regular EI benefits.

Business of Supply April 29th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the Member for Elmwood—Transcona, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.