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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

The Environment December 3rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate my colleague from Courtenay—Alberni's Motion No. 151, which proposes a national strategy to combat plastic pollution and was moved in response to the federal government's inaction when, in November 2016, a ship lost 35 containers in the Pacific Ocean that eventually washed up on the shores of British Columbia. That kind of ecological disaster should be a wake-up call for us all.

Around the world, oceans are drowning in plastic. Globally, a garbage truckload of plastic enters our oceans every minute. This year, 20 million tonnes of plastic waste will end up in our waterways. Ninety-five percent of the time, single-use plastics, such as straws, containers, utensils and grocery bags, are used just once and then tossed in the trash, where they take at least 200 years to decompose in the environment. These objects break down into tiny particles that marine animals, such as the fish we eat, end up consuming. Plastic pollution contaminates our coastlines, destroys our ecosystem and threatens the health of our fellow citizens.

The NDP is appalled at the federal government's failure to develop a plastic waste management strategy. Compared to many other countries, Canada looks pretty bad. Every year, our waterways spew tonnes of waste that is harmful to marine biodiversity, but the rest of the world understands the importance of addressing this crisis. Canada is lagging behind. Over 40 countries and states around the world, such as California, Australia, France, China, the United Kingdom, Kenya and Rwanda, have already adopted measures to ban or tax plastic packaging and other polluting plastics.

In Quebec, more than 500 artists, scientists, and community leaders have signed the Pact for the Transition, committing to do what they can as individuals to reduce their environmental footprint. They are calling on governments to match their efforts by also committing to act responsibly. One of the commitments is to reduce plastic consumption by choosing, among other things, products with the least packaging.

Some cities in Quebec, like Saguenay, in my riding of Jonquière, have already set up systems for recycling plastic bags. In the Saguenay region, many salvage and recycling depots have popped up to deal with plastic waste and other materials. The Saguenay sorting centre collects as much as four tonnes of plastic a week, diverting more than 500 tonnes of waste from the landfill. The City of Saguenay also does an agricultural plastics clean-up, which consists in gathering the plastic film used by the farmers who participate. More than a hundred farmers are registered for the agricultural plastics collection program run by the sorting centre.

These are the kinds of measures we need to support in order to start a movement that catches on at both the national and local levels. We currently recycle only 11% of our waste. Unless something changes, by 2050 the oceans could have more plastic than fish. We therefore need to do a lot more, and this motion lays out what to do.

Not only is this necessary, but it also presents an opportunity to innovate and create jobs as part of a green transition. Many volunteers across the country have decided to dedicate their time and effort to improving the environment. Last summer one of my constituents from Saguenay, Keaven Roberge, decided to clean up the banks of the Chicoutimi River, which is located in my riding, Jonquière. I am ashamed to have to tell him that his efforts will not be financially supported and that the federal government does not share his goals. Keaven takes a very realistic approach to this issue, which really sums up the situation. He says that the problem belongs to everyone and to no one at the same time. Everyone supports better waste management practices for the environment, but no one wants to take the lead.

Let me give another good example of environmental consciousness in Arvida in my riding. This week, Vanessa Gauthier is opening a new self-service shop called La Réserve, where customers can buy bulk products with zero waste, since they bring their own containers to fill. At the entrance, there will be a self-service scale where customers can weigh their containers so that they pay only for the product they buy.

La Réserve will be selling a variety of products in bulk, including dry and liquid food products and household and body care products. Ms. Gauthier plans to offer alternative solutions to disposables as well as cloth containers and bags for bulk items. There will also be a section with basic materials for making homemade cleaning products and cosmetics. The goal is to really minimize consumption as much as possible and to use as little plastic as possible.

The Liberal government's track record is troubling and shows that the government does not care enough about this major issue. Its $1.5-billion oceans protection plan does not include any funding to reduce plastic or debris in our oceans. In fact, the plan makes no mention of the word “plastic” at all. The current public policy for managing plastics is totally inadequate to deal with what our waterways are dumping into our oceans. Eight percent of the world's water flow passes through Canada, which means that any pollution we put into our rivers and waterways pollutes our oceans.

For a long time, waterways were seen as a practical way of getting rid of waste. Some waterways were used extensively and even excessively because of their ability to assimilate waste. The majority of industrial, municipal, farming and mining waste can be reduced at the source. Our country has the longest coastline in the world. It is our responsibility to take strict and effective measures to reduce plastic pollution in aquatic environments.

However, last June's ocean plastics charter did not include any binding measures. The Prime Minister may well brag about taking “an important step towards achieving a life cycle economy, in which all plastics would be recycled and repurposed”, but we need to engage and guide everyone. This has to be a general movement. Canadians are not so naive as to believe that a charter that is only three pages long will result in any action by polluting industries to help the environment. Motion No. 151 is exactly what the Prime Minister promised four years ago. This hypocrisy cannot continue. We desperately need political solutions and that is what Motion No. 151 proposes.

The first measure consists of regulations aimed at reducing consumer and industrial use of single use plastics, such as bags and plastic straws. Our plastics economy follows a linear model. We produce plastic, use it briefly and then throw it away. Approximately 95% of plastic objects are only used once and then are no longer of any use to the economy, taking several years, even centuries, to decompose in the environment. This pollution has already had catastrophic effects on our ecosystem. In fact, 85% of marine birds have already ingested plastic and this number will increase to 99% by 2050.

The Liberals are forcing taxpayers to pay for things that are harmful to the environment and health rather than funding less costly, alternative solutions.

People have been waiting too long for the proposed national strategy and partnerships with municipalities. No one here can deny that the situation is alarming. The IPCC forecasts released on October 8 are catastrophic. The Paris Agreement is also not enough. If we do not take any action, the impacts on health and food security, water supply and the economy will only increase.

Denying that this is urgent is denying our future generations a safe and prosperous future.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech.

I would like to talk about my region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. This week, we had a visit from a representative of the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain, or FRAPRU, who came to tell us about our city's household income statistics.

I represent the riding of Jonquière. The government promised us huge investments, mainly in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. I remember the government saying in 2015 that it was going to make historic investments in infrastructure, and yet there is still an urgent need for new infrastructure. According to Statistics Canada and what FRAPRU said about my city, people are still spending a large proportion of their income on housing. The need is pretty clear.

Omnibus Bill C-86 would have been a good opportunity to allocate more resources to social housing infrastructure. The government keeps saying that it is investing in social housing. That is what the members opposite always seem to be claiming. However, it is not true. There is no money allocated for social housing until after the next election.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about that.

Automotive Industry November 28th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the closure of the GM plant in Oshawa is terrible news for thousands of families. Workers are angry.

How can a government hand over billions of our dollars to a company without first obtaining a guarantee that jobs here will be protected?

Will the Prime Minister fight to keep jobs in Oshawa, or will he continue to give gifts to big corporations without asking for anything in return?

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, this massive 850-page bill contains seven different pieces of legislation, and yet the Standing Committee on Finance held only three meetings to study it.

What is more, the 36 amendments proposed by the NDP in committee were all rejected. The Liberals did not even take the time to study or debate them. They rejected them all, including those recommended by the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition, the Canadian Labour Congress or CLC, the Canadian Union of Public Employees or CUPE, Teamsters Canada and the Public Service Alliance of Canada or PSAC. All of the witnesses from these unions agreed that amendments were needed so that the bill would remedy the shortcomings in the legislation, which requires women to go to court to get equal pay for equal work.

If the Liberals were serious about pay equity, why did they not create a stand-alone bill on this subject that we could have debated in the House? That way women would not have to wait three or four years for pay equity.

Automotive Sector November 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the closure of the GM plant in Oshawa is devastating news for workers. For every direct job at this plant, there are around seven indirect jobs essential to the local economy. More than 5,000 Canadian families could be affected by these layoffs. The NDP was right in calling for a national automotive strategy. GM is making a green shift, but our automotive sector has clearly not adapted.

Why is the government ignoring the future of the automotive sector?

Where are the real measures to modernize the industry and keep good jobs?

Canada Post November 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in 2011, when the Conservatives forced Canada Post employees back to work, the Liberals were outraged.

Now they are the ones imposing special legislation. We know that postal workers are dealing with pay inequity, injuries and unpaid overtime.

How can the Liberals, in good conscience, claim to be friends of the workers while imposing legislation that forces Canada Post employees to go back to work under the same conditions?

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 24th, 2018

Madam Speaker, it is with indignation that I rise to speak to Bill C-89 for the resumption and continuation of postal services.

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour claims that the government exhausted all options, but let us not forget that the government did this knowing full well that special legislation would be ready if postal workers did not bend to their employer's demands. The Minister of Labour presents this dispute as a long list of proposals by Canada Post and its employees. That is inaccurate. The one thing Canada Post did was to allow the negotiations to go on for a long time without proposing any real solutions for its employees. Thanks to the Liberals, Canada Post got what it wanted, namely back-to-work legislation under the same conditions. Incentive for negotiation and the balance of power have evaporated since employees know that they will be forced to go back to work sooner or later.

In 2011, the Harper Conservatives imposed this same measure, which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. At the time, the Liberals condemned the very same back-to-work legislation they are now about to use. Ultimately, there is very little difference between a Liberal government and a Conservative one. Workers know that the NDP will fight for their rights every time, not just when it suits us.

There is one important point I want to raise: postal workers are not happy about going on strike. For thousands of middle-class families, striking is they only way they can maintain a position of strength vis-à-vis Canada Post. The Liberals and the Conservatives are spreading a false message when they say the strike is completely blocking mail delivery. The union chose to do rotating strikes specifically because it does not want to block mail delivery and wants to minimize the impact of strike action on small businesses.

A few days ago, Canada Post announced that it was the last chance to process the mail backlog before the avalanche of holiday packages hits. That is not true. Canada Post invented a false crisis over the mail backlog to get the government to intervene, and the government took the bait. Canada Post said that there were hundreds of mail trucks, which has since been proven to be untrue. Canada Post convinced the government that there would be no Christmas without back-to-work legislation.

People are receiving their mail and their online orders, in spite of what the Minister of Labour said. Nancy Beauchamp, a member of the CUPW bargaining committee, confirmed that at the Léo-Blanchette processing centre in Montreal, for example, there are currently no delays and no backlog of mail.

The minister also said that low-income Canadians waiting for their cheques were penalized by postal workers' rotating strikes. This is not true. The mail delivery process will not allow for the cheques to be delayed. The union chose to hold rotating strikes so as not to impact the public.

Now, the Liberals and the Conservatives are walking hand-in-hand toward a law that will undermine the constitutional right to free bargaining. The alarm that Canada Post is sounding is only as legitimate as the Liberals and Conservatives make it. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has acted in good faith in this dispute. It proposed ideas for improvement, but Canada Post turned a deaf ear. Management refused to implement any lasting solutions to the problems pertaining to pay equity between men and women, the job insecurity of some of its employees, or the health, safety, and unpaid overtime of rural mail carriers. This was an opportunity for the Liberals to clearly show whose side they are really on.

Rather than standing with workers and supporting free and fair bargaining, the Liberal government chose to support Canada Post management to the detriment of employees. Are the Liberals aware that forcing employees to go back to work will cause them to lose all of their leverage? The government knows that Canada Post employees have always been willing to negotiate in good faith and to quickly reach collective agreements. The Liberals could very well have ordered Canada Post to do the same by trying to negotiate in good faith with the union, but instead, the Liberals are hastening to Canada Post's rescue.

Now that Canada Post is concerned about profits and companies like eBay and Amazon are concerned about the delivery of their packages, the Liberals are imposing a return to work that would wipe out the efforts of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. This legislation would reintroduce the same working conditions. We need to reach an agreement, not vote on back-to-work legislation that will scrap all the negotiation efforts.

The government keeps saying it is in favour of negotiations, but it introduces a back-to-work bill. What is the logic behind that?

Yesterday, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour said she was confident “that we have used every tool in our tool box to get a negotiated agreement.” Is she confident? Have they really used every tool in their tool box?

Let them call the employer and tell it to sit down at the negotiating table. If Canada Post management had truly wanted to avoid a strike, then all it had to do was show up on time at the negotiating table and stop asking the government to bail it out of its bad management decisions.

That is what is happening today. What is worse is that the Liberals believe it. Does the government believe postal workers who want better protection and better working conditions? We must let negotiations continue. Rotating strikes will let the mail be delivered, which is what the union always wanted.

Now, the Liberals, including the member for Gatineau, want to convince us that we cannot wait any longer and that arbitration is the route to take. I may be naive, but I still hope that this arbitration will be transparent and fair, and that it will put employer and employees on an equal footing. However, when we take a closer look at how arbitration works, we quickly understand the government's decisions. Under arbitration, the decision-making process and the final decision are completely confidential. The union will not be able to rely on the means currently at its disposal to achieve a balance of power with Canada Post because all employees will be forced to go back to work under the deplorable conditions that I described earlier.

Things were the same for Canada Post in 2011. The union was afraid of being forced to accept a collective agreement despite arbitration and special legislation. That is why it pursued a negotiated settlement. The Harper government's back-to-work legislation imposed regressive collective agreements on postal workers. Today's back-to-work legislation is clearly infringing on workers' rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If the Liberals think that has changed, they have a short memory. Need I remind them that, in 2015, the Prime Minister made it a priority to improve labour relations at Canada Post and uphold the principle of freedom to negotiate?

Let me say that back-to-work legislation for postal workers will be a very tough sell. That is why I move, seconded by the member for London—Fanshawe:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House decline to give third reading to Bill C-89, An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of postal services, because it:

(a) prevents the use of the constitutional right to strike, an essential part of the collective bargaining process; and

(b) clearly violates the rights workers have under the Charter.”.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. The government keeps repeating that it is imposing special back-to-work legislation because postal workers are holding a rotating strike.

In Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, there has been just one day of strikes since the start of the job action. That is like one statutory holiday. The same goes for Sherbrooke and Abitibi-Témiscamingue, where postal workers were only on strike for one day.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the fact that the government is exaggerating the crisis fabricated by Canada Post. It has blown the situation out of proportion. What workers really want is to deliver the mail and, of course, to negotiate a collective agreement and settle the safety issue once and for all.

Postal Services Resumption and Continuation Act November 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent speech.

I was not at Canada Post in 1981, but I worked there for 15 years. I remember some of the workers telling me about why they took to the streets. As a mother, I was able to take maternity leave. Now, there are rural mail carriers who have to use their own personal vehicles and their own gas to deliver the mail in rural areas further away from urban centres. There is an inequity when it comes to salaries, working conditions and, most importantly, safety.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the fact that the back-to-work legislation violates their rights.

Canada Post Corporation November 23rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals claim to stand up for the middle class, but with this special legislation, they are preventing middle-class workers from negotiating with their employer. They are acting just like the Conservatives.

When the Conservatives pulled the same stunt on postal workers in 2011, my colleague from Cape Breton—Canso said, and I quote, “...this legislation is not only heavy-handed, but wrong-minded.”

Could he explain why the very thing that was heavy-handed and wrong-minded under the Conservatives is now completely acceptable?