House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was rights.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Independent MP for Montcalm (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 53% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Mark DeMontis October 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, today is World Sight Day and I would like to highlight the contribution of a very courageous and determined individual. Mark DeMontis is a young man who lost his sight at the age of 17 as a result of a rare illness, Leber optic neuropathy. Nevertheless, he does not hesitate to devote his time to Courage Canada. Since 2009, Mark has been in-line skating from Halifax to Toronto to raise money to start blind hockey clubs, such as the Montreal Hiboux.

Through his campaign, he hopes to raise the public's awareness of Courage Canada's objectives, which include giving visually impaired people the opportunity to participate in our national sport. Today is the 52nd day of his annual journey. I invite the members of the House to meet Mark and congratulate him this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. on the steps of Parliament. I would like to warmly congratulate Mark DeMontis on his involvement and on his remarkable accomplishments.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I will use my time to mention that there is already legislation to punish traffickers. We already have a system to welcome refugees. Yes, I said "welcome". We welcome refugees, mostly people who have suffered and who are coming to Canada in search of a better life. With this bill, Canada no longer intends to welcome these people. It would instead allow immigration officers to detain children. Do we want our country known for that?

This is a draconian bill. A number of experts have spoken out against it. It goes too far, and the best example of that is the mandatory detention of children. I am talking about children—young people who do not know what is happening to them. They have travelled very far to come to Canada. Their parents promised them a safer and better life, new friends and welcoming neighbours. I have a hard time imagining a smooth transition for these children. In fact, it is the complete opposite. Their arrival starts with mandatory detention. I cannot understand how the government can defend such a position or how it can think that it is necessary to detain children. I have a hard time understanding that someone could detain a frightened child who does not understand what is happening.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I rise in this House today to oppose this bill, which has been described as draconian by a number of experts, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. This bill is discriminatory and gives too much power to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

This bill authorizes the minister to designate as an irregular arrival the arrival in Canada of a group of persons. Those persons can thereby become designated foreign nationals. Their fate is left in the hands of the minister. In fact, if the minister deems that examinations could not be done in a timely manner, if he suspects that the persons were smuggled in exchange for money or that a criminal organization or terrorist group is involved in the smuggling, these refugees become designated claimants.

These designated claimants are then subjected to a host of abusive and discriminatory rules. Such measures would be inconsistent with the rights granted under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and would violate section 31 of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees by imposing penalties on refugees for illegal entry or presence.

Furthermore, this bill clearly violates the charter. The designated claimants—and that also includes children—must be detained upon their arrival or when they are designated. Their detention will only be reviewed after one year, or longer if the minister deems that their identity has not been established. These designated claimants may only be released when it has been established that they are refugees or when there are exceptional circumstances.

This bill obviously gives the minister too much power. This bill is arbitrary and gives the minister a great deal of discretion regarding the status of these people. These people have just arrived in Canada and are immediately treated as criminals, placed under suspicion, and, in the case of designated claimants, detained.

The Supreme Court has already abolished mandatory detention without review of security certificates. The court was clear: detention without valid reasons cannot be allowed in Canada. And yet this bill seems to ignore the Supreme Court decision.

This detention provision would allow indefinite detentions based on identity issues. There would be no possibility of release until the minister deems that the identity of the designated applicant has been fully established.

Canada has ratified many international treaties that prohibit arbitrary detention. Why does this government wish to pass a bill that would allow officers to go ahead with arbitrary detentions? Furthermore, the conditions for release are not specified. It might be a complex administrative task to establish conditions without considering individual cases.

What concerns me is that the decisions made by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism regarding applications by designated persons cannot be appealed to the refugee appeal division. This fuels my fear that this bill advances a process based on arbitrary decisions. I wonder about the recourse open to these designated applicants.

This provision could seriously contravene the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which protects refugees from such laws. My NDP colleagues also reminded the government of the provisions of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees when the government attempted to prevent refugees from certain countries from appealing decisions.

This bill unfairly attacks refugees and does not resolve the underlying problem. It is based on arbitrary decisions by the minister, decisions that cannot be appealed.

The bill does not stop there. It even limits claims on humanitarian grounds. Once people become designated claimants, they can not make a claim on humanitarian grounds or apply for a temporary resident permit for five years. This provision is just one more obstacle. The bill goes much too far.

Despite the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, designated claimants cannot receive a passport. Article 28 of the convention, which requires States to issue travel documents, would not apply to designated claimants.

That means that the government is suspending some of the rights of designated claimants. What is the government trying to do? Alienate all refugees? Criminalize them as soon as they arrive?

This bill not only has a significant effect on the rights of refugees, but it also applies to previous cases. Under a retroactive designation provision, the government can consider anyone who has arrived in Canada since March 2009 as a designated claimant.

We see here the scope of the power that this bill grants to the minister. He can go back to 2009, decide that a refugee is a designated claimant and impose all the provisions that accompany that status on the person in question.

This bill attacks refugees rather than the real culprits: traffickers and smugglers. There is already a serious sentence for those who are found guilty of human trafficking: life in prison. This bill unfairly punishes those who are trying to seek refuge in Canada and encourages discriminatory practices.

What worries me is the significant amount of power that would be granted to the minister if this bill were passed. The bill is based on the minister's decisions.

We must ask ourselves what the Conservatives hope to gain with such a bill. They claim that they want to fight the spread of human trafficking. Their solution is to give the minister the power to make important decisions on the status of refugees without giving them the ability to appeal that decision. The Conservatives' solution is to detain children for as long as it takes to determine their identity.

The NDP recognizes that human trafficking is a problem but it is proposing real solutions that address the real problem. The criminals—traffickers and smugglers—are the ones who must be punished.

Several months ago, the House passed a bill regarding refugees. It was strong but also balanced and fair. I believe that we should focus on improving the enforcement of that law.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, we need to respect the workers, workers in our communities, workers who work outside, no matter what the weather is like, whether the day is hot, windy or bitterly cold.

Earlier I failed to mention the young employees of the Canada Post Corporation. This new generation deserves the same benefits as those our parents and their parents fought so hard for.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, the government did not require Canada Post to return to the bargaining table and respect the collective agreement of its employees. The government probably does not want to interfere in the affairs of a Crown corporation. But it did not hesitate to table a bill that affects thousands of workers.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I get the impression that the government wants to blame the situation on the NDP members and on Canada Post workers. What we want is to defend these workers and to recognize that a worker who has the right to belong to a union also has the right to bargain a collective agreement.

I would like to remind the House that Canada Post employees decided to start a rotating strike. Employees in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver took turns going on strike. This slowed down postal services, but mail was still being delivered. I do not think that we should take the blame for this situation.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Madam Speaker, during a bargaining process, it is preferable for the two parties to find common ground and reach a consensus. Alas, since the negotiations began, it has been my strong sense that Canada Post Corporation never intended to negotiate in good faith.

Withdrawing from the bargaining process and locking out employees is disrespectful to workers. A lockout is not a strike. A strike is protest action on the part of workers, whereas a lockout is the temporary closure of the Canada Post Corporation. It is a management decision.

The Canada Post Corporation opted to wait for the government to intervene and introduce special legislation. This approach robs workers of the right to strike because it leaves them constantly fearing this kind of legislation and, unfortunately, sends a negative message not only to the employees of Canada Post, but to all workers in this country.

Forcing workers to go back to work right now will leave them disgruntled and unhappy. This kind of forced settlement will be a bitter pill for workers to swallow and will leave them with a bad taste in their mouths. Not to mention the poisoned atmosphere that it will create between management and workers for the months to come. We are not talking about years here.

Let us not forget that several thousand workers have been affected by this lockout. When will the government finally understand that Canada Post employees are first and foremost people with families, obligations and responsibilities?

This legislation will strip the union of power when its primary role is to advocate for the interests of wage earners. The union’s second duty is to ensure that information is passed on to wage earners by acting as a liaison between Canada Post Corporation and its employees.

Canada Post Corporation is pretending to be caught off guard by this situation. That makes no sense. It is Canada Post Corporation that precipitated the situation and declared a lockout.

This government’s stance rides roughshod over democracy. What about legislation based on common sense? Workers are being locked out, and worse still, the government gets involved and wants to introduce legislation to force employees back to work. Now we are really seeing the true colours of this Conservative government.

Canada’s courts have recognized the right of workers to negotiate their employment contracts. Canadian courts have also recognized the right of workers to collectively organize with their fellow workers to have their rights and their employment contracts upheld.

The government’s approach is, without a doubt, bizarre. This procedure is going to set a precedent that no worker wants. And who will pay for it at the end of the day? The workers, as usual.

Instead of showing our workers some consideration and respect, the government is abusing its power and riding roughshod over the rights of workers. It is unfair and it is not right.

I do not understand. The Conservatives have a majority government. They won the support they needed. And yet, did they have the guts to tell Canadians how they intended to govern the country? Did they say that they would back the big guys instead of helping workers? Did they say that they would force their legislation through without regard for its impact on the lives of workers? Did they say that they would deny workers an opportunity to negotiate according to the rules of proper collective bargaining? Did they say that they would introduce legislation to deny workers the right to be heard, and that they would chip away at their pension plans? Will they continue to foist draconian measures on Canadian workers who only want their right to negotiate better working conditions to be respected?

Out of respect for workers and their families, I believe that the government should withdraw from these negotiations and refrain from using special legislation to get their way, especially when it means siding with the employer.

The Conservatives’ approach is all too familiar: it is easy for them to look out for their friends at the expense of Canadian workers. These are the very same workers that helped make Canada Post the postal service that it is today, a service from which we benefit day in and day out. These workers have paid into their pension plans and are entitled, like anybody living in Canada, to receive a pension at the agreed-upon time, so they may enjoy their retirement in dignity.

One would expect a little bit of consideration on the part of management, but also from government. Why not leave it up to the two parties to negotiate in an honest fashion, and open up the communication channels? Currently, the employees are not allowed in the distribution centre and have no access to the mail, so they cannot deliver it. The doors are closed. That is what a lockout means. Canada Post has to unlock the doors so that workers can continue with the rotating delivery, just like when the bargaining process began.

Now, the government is going after the workers at Canada Post, and they will be the next victims of the extreme decisions of the government. Nobody is interested in a wage reduction or having their retirement age raised by five years. This special legislation will give all Canadian workers cause for worry, and they will wonder if they might be the next scapegoats of this Conservative government.

This special legislation will create divisions between two generations of workers, it will be the source of pay and social inequities, and it will weaken labour relations and create a damaging work environment.

The message this government is sending to workers is clear: it will not hesitate to side with employers, even if workers stand to lose a great deal. In all situations, employers will be valued over the workers. Workers will not have any opportunity to negotiate fairly because, if they insist too much on having their rights and their contract enforced, the government will not support them. Quite the opposite, it will step in and legislate them back to work. Can you believe this is happening in this day and age?

These workers paid their union dues for years. The union is trying its best to stand up for them, but what came as a surprise to the workers is that the government, through special legislation, is trying to prevent their union from doing its job properly by not respecting its right to negotiate the members’ working conditions freely. I am afraid this kind of approach will drive apart different generations of workers and also drive apart management and employees.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, my question is simple.

All members agree that workers have the right to draw a pension and to live comfortably and safely. They are entitled to that because they have worked for their retirement pension. My question is as follows. What will be the impact of such legislation on workers' pensions?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I get the sense they are trying to pin the blame for this situation on the members of the NDP and the workers. I would, however, remind the House that Canada Post employees opted for rotating strikes, in other words, employees in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, for instance, would take turns going on strike. That way, postal service would continue, albeit at a slower rate. So cheques would have been delivered and small businesses could have paid their suppliers and received payments from their customers.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Madam Speaker, simply put, everything we do should be done in accordance with our conscience and to the best of our knowledge. Common sense always has a role to play.