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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was languages.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for LaSalle—Émard (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 27% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Volunteerism May 11th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to bring to the attention of this House the volunteer work of Ms. Vera Sherlock, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Chapter 212 of LaSalle.

Ms. Vera Sherlock has dedicated her talent and energy to better the lives of our Canadian war veterans for over 35 years. Members of the LaSalle Legion are amazed by her never-ending will to make a difference in the lives of our Canadian veterans.

Every month she makes her anticipated visit at Ste. Anne's Hospital. She brings hospitalized veterans all kinds of little surprises and warm affection that puts smiles on their faces, and brings out a little sunshine in their lives.

She organizes parties and entertains them during special holidays. December must be her favourite month because she goes all out for a special Christmas party for the veterans to bring them the special joy of the season at a time of year that is especially difficult for them.

On behalf of my constituents of LaSalle--Émard, I want to thank Vera for her involvement with our veterans who have given so much to our country.

Status of Women May 10th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in the Conservatives' Canada, nobody is safe from partisanship and intimidation. They target women, climatologists and artists.

To clean up their deficit, they are also targeting festivals and regional development agencies.

Scientists, artists, women's groups and homosexuals have suffered under Conservative ideology, and the regions have suffered because of their incompetence.

Why is the Prime Minister attacking all of these Canadians?

Status of Women May 10th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, last week, a female Conservative senator said that women's groups should be quiet or suffer the consequences.

The next day, we got a taste of what those consequences would be: cuts to funding for groups that had received federal government funding for decades.

It is clear that the Prime Minister wants women's groups to be docile and obedient. He also decided to cut funding to gay pride parades.

Which Canadians does this government represent, and which groups will have their funding cut next?

Status of Women May 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister why the government is attacking the Association féminine d'éducation et d'aide sociale. Why cut funding to Action travail des femmes? What do the Conservatives have against the Centre de documentation sur l'éducation des adultes et la condition féminine? Why is the Prime Minister interfering in African women's medical decisions? Why is this government intimidating women?

Canadians want to know: what is next on the government's reform agenda?

Status of Women May 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the government launched a general attack on women's organizations, telling them to shut up or else it would attack women's right to control their own bodies. The next day, the government cut funding to two dozen groups, some of which Canada has funded for 30 years.

Why attack the Réseau des tables régionales de groupes de femmes du Québec? Why attack the Conseil d'intervention pour l'accès des femmes au travail?

Status of Women May 5th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, we keep seeing these partisan dismissals and smear campaigns. They intimidated Rémi Beauregard of Rights & Democracy non-stop until the day he died, according to his widow.

In Copenhagen, Dimitri Soudas made false accusations against Steven Guilbeault. What happened? The Prime Minister made him his director of communications.

Enough is enough. When will these Reformers understand that Canadians will not put up with this systematic culture of intimidation?

Status of Women May 5th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the government cut funding to a dozen women's groups.

These cuts came just a day after the inflammatory comment that revealed the culture of intimidation that is rotting Canada's government from the inside out.

Some of these groups had been receiving funding for 30 years, but the Conservatives decided to make an example out of them. “You do not agree with the Prime Minister? Shut up or we will make cuts.”

What does this Prime Minister have against Canadians that is making him rule by intimidation?

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations Act May 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed about the ruling that was just handed down. Bill C-471, An Act respecting the implementation of the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force and amending another Act in consequence, was introduced in the House of Commons by the leader of the official opposition. This bill would repeal the measures in this year's Conservative budget that eroded pay equity.

It is inconceivable that in 2010, a Canadian government can attack a right as fundamental as equal pay for equal work. The measures in this budget do away with pay equity for Canadian women in a reprehensible way. What is more, Canadians are starting to have a better idea of the sneaky, roundabout way the Conservatives govern. The ultimate goal of Bill C-471 is to restore pay equity as a human right.

It makes no sense to put pay equity on the bargaining table. One cannot put a price on legitimate human rights and turn them into bargaining chips. That is why all the members of this House should wholeheartedly support this bill, which seeks to correct this serious injustice, and state officially that equal pay for equal work is still a fundamental right.

I want to share some statistics that should give us pause. Women who work full-time earn only 70.5% as much as men in the same job category who also work full-time year-round. In addition, women of colour earn only 64% and aboriginal women earn a frightening 46% of what men earn. Most women still hold what are known as “women's jobs” in teaching, nursing and health care, office work and retail sales.

With the measures in this year's budget, the Conservatives are trying to make women pay for their economic woes. I want to talk about how the Conservative vision, as reflected in the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, will affect the well-being of Canadian women. For starters, these measures limit pay equity for more women. To be able to claim pay equity, a group must first show that it is 70% female, which further limits the number of eligible groups. In other words, if a company has less than 70% women, the law does not apply. As a result, many women would no longer be eligible.

Furthermore, as I said at the beginning of my speech, the Conservative government made pay equity part of the bargaining process. But it gets worse: unions face fines of up to $50,000 for encouraging a woman who has been discriminated against or encouraging one of its members to file a complaint regarding pay equity.

Thus, women are being deprived of their right to be represented. They cannot even turn to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. With all these obstacles, the Conservative government has the nerve to call this pay equity legislation progressive. Instead, this measure is regressive, as are most of the measures the Conservatives have brought forward since they came to power, measures to appease their right-leaning electoral base.

It is completely clear that the Conservative government has no intention of addressing gender inequity in Canada. Its track record when it comes to women thoroughly reveals its intentions. Its position regarding maternal health in developing countries is very telling. And we can see other examples in the measures taken regarding Status of Women Canada: the elimination of funding for public interest groups that advocate for women, the elimination of the court challenges program and the repeated attacks on the firearms registry. The list goes on. These are just a few examples that clearly demonstrate this government's backwards attitude to women.

Bill C-471 is about equality, respect and the protection of human rights. Above all, these rights can never be negotiated. This excellent legislative measure is necessary and it must be supported by all members. It already has the support of the majority of Canadians. This legislation is beneficial for and important to the women of this country who must always fight to advance their fundamental rights.

In its March 2003 presentation to the Pay Equity Task Force, the Canadian Human Rights Commission recognized that fundamental rights are closely tied to women's economic well-being. Discrimination is one factor that leads to their economic disadvantage and the gender wage gap is one indicator of inequality for women. The link is obvious.

Only an effective and efficient pay equity policy can contribute to women's equality.

Our legislative measure, Bill C-471, is based on the principle that pay equity is a human right. In fact, it is one of the earliest human rights recognized as an international standard. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has stated that pay equity is enshrined in many international agreements to which Canada has been bound for decades. We must highlight the quasi-constitutional nature of human rights, their pre-eminence over other types of rights and the need to interpret them liberally and progressively.

Furthermore, still according to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Canada has also signed recent international agreements that recognize the need for comprehensive equality action plans coupled with transparent and accountable institutions of government in order to move the equality agenda forward.

To the Canadian Human Rights Commission, human rights and the right to pay equity are universal and indivisible. Human rights, including the right to pay equity, must be the same everywhere and for everyone. Inextricably linked to equality, pay equity is also intended to be transformative. While pay equity aims to fairly value and compensate the work done primarily by women, pay equity is not "just about the money". Pay equity identifies and dismantles long-standing patterns of systemic discrimination in order to change how we do business and how society operates. In other words, while wage discrimination in and of itself can lead to a constricted ability for some to fully enjoy a range of human rights, it is the insidious link between wage discrimination and other forms of discrimination that can adversely impact the most disadvantaged workers. Unequal pay is part of the broader problem of systemic discrimination in employment, and pay equity is one essential tool for creating systemic change.

That is why pay equity has become a national issue and why members of this House must support and pass Bill C-471.

With this legislation in hand we could create a federal pay equity commission to ensure pay equity in the federal public service, crown corporations and federally-regulated sectors. This federal pay equity commission would enforce the principle of pay equity in the public service and federally-regulated industries. Most importantly, under Bill C-471, future pay equity measures would be considered human rights legislation.

In closing, this bill would benefit all Canadians and I am pleased to support it. I hope all my colleagues in this House share my enthusiasm and will make it their duty to support this bill wholeheartedly.

Science and technology May 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the knowledge industry, history is repeating itself.

Conservative policies will lead to a brain drain that may bring down the economic structure of the Montreal region and Canada as a whole. Conservatives are giving the boot to scientists whose discoveries do not reflect their Reform ideology.

Does this government not recognize that creativity in science, art and industry is the most reliable engine of economic growth we have? Why does it place ideology ahead of the economy?

Forestry Industry May 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, last week, the government announced its decision to bury Quebec's forestry industry, thereby abandoning thousands of workers. It may take years for regions like Mauricie to recover.

For generations, forestry has been a key component of Quebec's economy, and we must help it to recover for the good of all Quebeckers. Will the Prime Minister reconsider his decision to abandon Quebec's forestry workers?