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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was earlier.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2021, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Foreign Lobbyist Transparency Act April 5th, 2019

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-278, an act to amend the Lobbying Act (reporting obligations).

The purpose of the Lobbying Act is to achieve a balance in maintaining the transparency of lobbying activities and ensuring free and open access to government. To that end, the Lobbying Act is based on four key principles.

First is that free and open access to government is an important matter of public interest.

Second is that lobbying public office holders is a legitimate activity.

Third, it is desirable that public office holders and the public be able to know who is engaged in lobbying activities.

Fourth, the system of registration of paid lobbyists should not impede free and open access to government.

I would like to take this opportunity to go over the main features of this legislation. The Lobbying Act requires anyone who lobbies federal public office holders to register with the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada.

All lobbyists are obligated under the act to report on lobbying activities, including communications with designated public office holders, on a monthly basis. This information is published on the Internet on the public registry maintained by the Commissioner of Lobbying.

The Lobbying Act identifies two types of lobbyists. A consultant lobbyist is an individual who, for payment, communicates with public office holders on behalf of any person or organization.

The Lobbying Act lists activities that are considered to be lobbying when carried out in return for payment. Generally speaking, they include communication with a public office holder in respect of the amendment of any act, regulation, policy or program of the federal government, the awarding of a financial benefit such as a grant or contribution, and, in some cases, the awarding of a government contract.

In addition, for a consultant lobbyist, arranging a meeting between a public office holder and any other person constitutes lobbying.

The commissioner has provided additional interpretation on what must be reported. In-house and consultant lobbyists must report all oral and arranged communications with designated public office holders relating to financial benefits, even when initiated by public officer holders. Likewise, consultant lobbyists must report oral and arranged communications with designated public office holders relating to a contract regardless of who initiated the communication.

For the purposes of the Lobbying Act, communications include oral, written and local communications. Examples of oral communication with a public office holder include organized meetings, telephone calls and informal verbal communications. Letters and emails are examples of written communication with a public office holder. Lobbyists' appeals to the public through letter-writing and email campaigns, advertising, websites or social media are examples of local communication.

Currently, under the act, grassroots communication means appealing to the public directly or through mass media to persuade them to communicate directly with a public office holder to influence their opinion.

Some types of communication do not require registration. These include, for example, inquiries to obtain publicly available information and general inquiries about the terms and conditions of programs and application processes.

Registration is also not required for participation in government-initiated activities such as consultations, hearings, round tables or like-minded activities where transparency is comparable to that of a parliamentary committee, with participants, proceedings and decisions readily made public. The same goes for the preparation and presentation of briefings to parliamentary committees.

The bill before us today would require organizations and corporations that lobby the government to report on funds received from foreign nationals, non-resident corporations and non-resident organizations. This bill would also expand the types of activities that lobbyists must report as grass roots communications.

The proposed bill will expand the definition of grassroots communications to require lobbyists to also disclose if they are encouraging the public or organizations to undertake activities that could indirectly influence public office holders.

When we consider the bill against the principles of the act, which have sought to strike a balance between transparency and ensuring that the compliance burden imposed on lobbyists is reasonable and fair, important concerns become apparent.

For example, lobbyists can face steep penalties for violating the Lobbying Act. Filing a false return can result in a $200,000 fine or two years in jail. As such, it is crucial that the reporting obligations under the act remain clear so that lobbyists are able to comply with the legislation. We believe the proposed bill does the exact opposite.

In addition, the bill's amendments would increase the compliance burden on lobbyists and the enforcement burden on the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying. The limited impact of the bill in terms of transparency must be weighed against these potential costs.

The Lobbying Act makes it possible for Canadians to know who is talking to public office holders and whose interests they represent. I am open to improving the act, but I think that, in this case, the cons of the proposed amendments outweigh the potential pros. That is why I encourage all members to vote against this bill.

Committees of the House April 5th, 2019

Madam Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 89th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.

Committees of the House April 5th, 2019

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 89th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of committees of the House. If the House gives its consent, I would like to move concurrence in the report later this day.

World Autism Awareness Day April 2nd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about World Autism Awareness Day.

Autism spectrum disorder affects a significant number of children. In the Laurentians, it affects one in 60 children, and 90% of those affected are boys. We probably all know someone—a family member, a friend, a child or an acquaintance—whose life is affected by autism. Autism affects everyone.

This issue is near and dear to me. I would like to thank the Fondation autisme Laurentides for working so hard to help children with autism and their families. Today being World Autism Awareness Day, I believe it is important to create space for an ongoing conversation about what we can do to help and support people with autism and their families. I would like to thank those of my colleagues who are proudly wearing blue as a sign that they want to talk about this and raise awareness among those around us.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her question and comments.

The reality is that the inmates in question, because we are not talking about all inmates here, are too dangerous or disruptive to be safely housed in the mainstream prison population. Right now, they can leave their cells for two hours a day. Once the bill is passed, they will be entitled to spend four hours outside their cell, and that will be enshrined in law. What is more, they will have to have human contact, be it with correctional officers, health care professionals or chaplains, to create ties and move forward.

We are also going to ensure that they have better access to mental health care, because that is often necessary. The previous government cut $800 million in funding, which definitely had a negative impact on our correctional facilities. We need to fix that.

Bill C-83 will promote inmate rehabilitation and ensure that all Canadians feel safe. That is a critical objective.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 26th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise in the House and participate in today's debate on Bill C-83, a transformative piece of legislation for our correctional system. Its ultimate goal is to promote safety, both inside and outside our federal institutions, and it prioritizes rehabilitation as an indispensable part of achieving that goal.

The core innovation in Bill C-83 is the proposed introduction of structured intervention units, or SIUs. These SIUs would address a reality in any prison, which is that some inmates are, at certain times, simply too dangerous or disruptive to be safely housed in the mainstream inmate population. The current practice is to place those offenders in administrative segregation.

Segregated inmates in federal institutions can be in their cells for as many as 22 hours a day, and their interactions with other inmates are highly limited. Bill C-83 offers a more effective way forward for everyone involved. Safety will always be priority number one, but prisons are safer places to live and work when inmates receive the programming, mental health care and other interventions they need. Inmates who receive these interventions are more likely to reintegrate safely into the community when their sentences are over.

The solution the government is proposing in Bill C-83 is to eliminate segregation and to replace it with SIUs. These units will be secure and separate from the mainstream inmate population so that the safety imperative will be met. However, they will be designed to ensure that the inmates who are placed there receive the interventions, programming and treatment that they require.

Inmates in SIUs will be given the opportunity to leave their cells for at least four hours a day, as opposed to two hours under the current system. It is worth noting that currently, those two hours are set out in policy and not in legislation. Bill C-83 will give the four-hour minimum the full force of law. Inmates in SIUs will also have the opportunity for at least two hours of meaningful human contact. During that time, they could interact with people such as correctional staff, other compatible inmates, visitors, chaplains or elders.

The goal of these reforms is for inmates in an SIU to be in a position to reintegrate into the mainstream inmate population as soon as possible.

Bill C-83 has undergone rigorous analysis at every stage of the parliamentary process to date. Members of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security went over the bill with a fine-tooth comb.

Based on testimony from a wide range of stakeholders, a number of useful amendments were adopted at the end of the committee's study period. Bill C-83 was a solid and worthwhile bill from day one. It is now even better and stronger for having gone through vigorous debate and a robust review process.

It is worth noting that the bill that has been reported back to us reflects amendments from all parties that proposed them. I wholeheartedly reject the idea we have heard during this debate that somehow the fact that the bill has been amended in response to public and parliamentary feedback is a bad thing. I am proud to support a government that welcomes informed, constructive feedback and that respects the role of members of Parliament from all parties in the legislative process.

Most of the amendments made to Bill C-83 are about ensuring that the new SIUs will function as intended.

For example, some witnesses were worried that the opportunity for time out of the cell would be provided in the middle of the night, when inmates were unlikely to take advantage of it. The member for Montarville therefore added the requirement that it happen between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Other witnesses wondered whether the mandatory interactions with others might happen through a door or a meal slot. To address that concern, the member for Toronto—Danforth, whom I commend, added a provision requiring that every reasonable effort be made to ensure that interactions are face to face, with a record kept of any and all exceptions.

To address concerns that the Correctional Service of Canada might make excessive use of the clause allowing for time out of the cell not to be provided in exceptional circumstances, the member for Mississauga—Lakeshore added a list of specific examples, such as fires or natural disasters, to clarify how this clause should be interpreted.

Amendments from the member for Toronto—Danforth at committee and from the member for Oakville North—Burlington at report stage will enhance the review process so that each SIU placement is subject to robust oversight, both internally and externally.

All of this will help ensure that the new SIUs operate as intended. Amendments have also been accepted from the members for Brampton North, Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, Beloeil—Chambly and Saanich—Gulf Islands. I thank them for their contributions.

We all want safer institutions and safer communities, and we all want Canadians to feel safe.

Successful rehabilitation and safe reintegration of people in federal custody are key to achieving our shared objective of enhanced public safety. By allowing inmates who must be separated from the general prison population to receive more time out of their cell and more mental health care and rehabilitative interventions, Bill C-83 represents a major step in the right direction.

Again, I would like to thank all of my hon. colleagues for their contributions throughout the legislative process so far, and I urge them to join me in enthusiastically supporting the bill.

Winter in Rivière-des-Mille-Îles February 21st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, winter has been extremely tough this year in Quebec, with bitter cold, heavy snowfall, freezing rain and more. Winter in Quebec may be a burden for some folks, but in my riding, there is something for everyone at our many winter festivals.

Boisbriand's snow festival was a huge success. The big slide in the shape of a whale was quite popular. Rosemère's winter carnival went very well, even though it was a little cold. The sun was out, and everyone was delighted to be there. Saint-Eustache's snow festival is always a big hit. Everyone loved it, especially the evening percussion show, with drums that lit up. The Deux-Montagnes winter carnival organized by the Lions Club was a major success, as always.

These wonderful events would not be possible without the immense support of many volunteers. I would like to thank all the volunteers who took part in all these winter festivals, which bring joy to the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles year after year.

Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act February 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague. I congratulate him on his French, which is improving every week.

The Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement is over 20 years old, as mentioned earlier. At first it was an agreement on merchandise trade only.

I would like to know what kind of prosperity this new agreement will bring to the hon. member's riding in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Saint-Eustache Kiwanis Club February 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the Saint-Eustache Kiwanis Club is hosting its famous Choco-Vin fundraiser this evening.

This fine-dining experience is one of the events the Kiwanis club organizes to raise money to support our community. Choco-Vin brings together nearly 300 people to enjoy a delectable meal of chocolate and wine. It is going to be absolutely delicious.

In past years, the club has raised $35,000 annually at this event. The wonderful thing about the Kiwanis club is its values of mutual support and solidarity. Its mission is to benefit the community in as many ways as it can.

Through its fundraising activities, the club has raised nearly $80,000 that will go back into the community to help young people, seniors and everyone in the Lower Laurentians community.

This year, the Kiwanis club is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It is a pillar in the riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

I congratulate its members and thank them for their tremendous work.

Business of Supply February 5th, 2019

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

I am pleased that a Conservative is asking me that question because, in their 2012 budget, the Conservatives eliminated 1,200 jobs at the Canada Revenue Agency. They made $250 million in cuts. We cannot trust the Conservatives to manage the CRA properly. What they are saying right now is an election gimmick. I hope that they will tell all Canadians what they are saying here and what they are saying to Quebec, and that they will not send two different messages.