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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

Foreign Affairs May 7th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today marks the sad anniversary of Raif Badawi's sentencing. He is in jail simply for having an opinion. He is still sentenced to 1,000 lashes, which is an inhumane, archaic and barbaric sentence. By remaining silent, Canada is complicit in denying freedom of speech and opinion.

Can the government stop being concerned and honour Canadians by using diplomacy to ensure that Mr. Badawi is released and can rejoin his wife and children?

Labour March 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I was talking about the fact that these people are paid only $1.15 an hour.

That being said, is there now a labour policy adapted to the needs of this client group? It is not an impossible task. All it takes is the willingness of the government.

Will the government commit this morning to proposing a labour plan that provides for decent wages for people with intellectual disabilities?

Labour March 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, last week, we learned that the government, before reversing its position, wanted to cut 50 jobs at a federal sorting facility. Those positions were filled by people with intellectual disabilities. These jobs, which were useful to and enjoyed by these workers, were more of a symbolic gesture than an actual way to earn a living since workers were paid only $1.15 an hour.

Many people share the same concern and are wondering about this. Does the government think it is right to be paying hard-working and capable employees $1.15 an hour?

National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day Act March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my thanks to all the members who participated in this debate. Everything I have heard here this evening is truly heartwarming. This debate was held in an exemplary fashion and with the utmost respect for our function.

Creating a national spinal cord injury awareness day will make a positive contribution to Canadian society. I would like to tell all my distinguished colleagues that persons with disabilities from all over Canada have contacted my offices to express their gratitude, and I have to share their thanks with my colleagues.

Let me also thank all those who made the study of this bill possible, all those who helped design and draft the bill, and all those who helped move it forward. The seriousness of their commitment shows an exemplary level of concern with prevention and with raising awareness not only of the challenges facing those with spinal cord injuries, but also of the treatments and research in this area of expertise.

By going through the many stages that led to this bill, which I am honoured to put before the House today, I think I have gained a better appreciation of the real needs of those living with spinal cord injuries. Let me explain.

I have gained a greater understanding of what an initiative like this special day can contribute. This bill is representative of the purpose of the political work we are all here to do because it helps us better ourselves as a society in meaningful ways.

Sometimes we get the feeling that we are not doing enough, but in this case, even though this bill seems like a modest initiative at first glance, it is an incredible tool that leads us to a new stage in our progress toward accepting people with disabilities in Canada. This step forward will lead to others and so on.

The quality of life of all our fellow citizens, whether they are affected by spinal cord injuries or not, will improve. The goal is to make social acceptance more universal and to raise awareness among employers of the unsuspected qualities of those with spinal cord injuries, thereby making our communities more effective, productive and just.

The practical nature of this reality and the idealism of these principles work well together in this much-needed bill. We have to promote acceptance within social networks and value inclusion because it is both compassionate and for the common good.

In my opinion, one of the foundations of our work is ensuring that the best decisions are made to help our society progress, that the best policies are employed for the common good and that our measures are effective when they are implemented.

I truly believe that this bill to create a national spinal cord injury awareness day is a step in the right direction, and of course I will continue to speak in support of this bill until it passes in the House of Commons.

To back my point of view, I turned to a number of stakeholders. I asked a lot of questions and tried to get some answers, and I listened to the opinions of many experts and workers on the ground. I also learned about many approaches and initiatives in the area of spinal cord injury.

There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, but we have reached a consensus regarding the best actions to take. Creating a national spinal cord injury awareness day seems to be the approach that best meets the various needs of that community. This measure has the potential to be extremely beneficial to a broad cross-section of Canadians, all without any cost. We simply cannot do without this crucial bill. The ball is now in our court. We have examined the issue and reached our conclusions, so now let us make it happen.

There has been so much brainstorming, collaboration and passionate discussion; so many people have invested in a common goal; so much effort has been made and energy spent selflessly. Let us follow the example of these often anonymous people who, by doing their small part, have managed to put together a simple, yet effective bill. We must take this opportunity to do our part and vote in favour of the bill to create a national awareness day.

I want to mention two organizations: Spinal Cord Injury Canada, whose director, Bobby White, has supported me from the beginning, and Moelle épinière et motricité Québec, with Walter Zelaya.

I am sure we will get there. We can, we must, and we will. Canadians are dignified and proud. Let us create a spinal cord injury awareness policy that reflects that.

Let us see this bill as a positive reflection of our society, a commendable unifying effort that everyone can stand behind. On behalf of people with disabilities in Montcalm, Quebec and Canada, I want to sincerely thank my colleagues. I am deeply touched by everything they had to say about spinal cord injuries.

Pensions March 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, above and beyond maintaining our seniors' quality of life and preserving the dignity of workers who retire, there is another economic factor that is important to consider when it comes to pensions.

When seniors become impoverished, our society as a whole is affected. If the purchasing power of a large segment of the population is diminished to the level of a subsistence income, many Canadians will have to absorb those losses.

Our economic system is built on a delicate balance that we absolutely must maintain. Businesses, services, the tourism and recreation industry—everyone suffers when the government goes after seniors' pensions.

Can the member give us a clear idea of the government's plan to stop this increasingly shameful situation from getting even worse?

Pensions March 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the House will agree with me that the cost of living keeps going up. Whether we are talking about food, the cost of energy, or housing, the situation has changed considerably over the past few years.

Current banking policy, the real estate market and the concentration of wealth lead us to believe that the situation will not improve any time soon, while the value of our personal savings seems to keep falling.

In that context, a vast majority of Canadians are worried about the quality of life of their elders, their grandparents, their neighbours, or their colleagues who are starting to experience financial difficulties at an advanced age.

To experience economic uncertainty after spending a lifetime saving money for a comfortable retirement is a sorry injustice. In most cases, seniors' pensions are calculated at a strict minimum, which is often not commensurate with the services rendered.

The current government has not only failed to propose solutions but it is also failing to protect retirees' assets. With its measure on the age of retirement, the government is again pushing the tolerable limits in terms of how long people can keep working. Budget cuts will not help our retirees at all. The government must change the age of retirement from 67 back to 65. It must also improve the Canada pension plan and increase the minimum guaranteed income supplement.

I repeat: the cost of living is increasing and we cannot reduce the resources available to our seniors.

I am sure that no member here wants to see retirees live in poverty, and that everyone cares about the quality of life of seniors. We need to take concrete action, whether that means implementing appropriate and targeted tax measures, improving access to social housing or implementing any other effective measures.

In my opinion, the crux of the problem is the Canada pension plan, which does not provide seniors with enough support for a peaceful, dignified retirement that meets their expectations. This is a legitimate request that is quite simple in and of itself. We need to act quickly and correct the problem before all gains are lost.

A well-deserved retirement should remain an ideal to strive for and increasing the amounts granted is the first step in helping retirees to maintain their lifestyle.

The government promised to improve the Canada pension plan and the guaranteed income supplement, but it is slow to propose concrete solutions and to implement more humane policies in this area.

If this was just my opinion based on moral principles, we could discuss it at length. However, in this case, the opinion I am expressing echoes the views of many stakeholders who are familiar with the challenges faced every day by Canadian retirees.

Experts such as seniors' advocacy groups, unions and financial experts on pensions are clear. There is a definite consensus: we must improve the Canada pension plan.

It obviously goes without saying that the principles of sound management require an appropriate response from the government. We cannot stand by and watch the degradation of our seniors' quality of life. There are solutions, and the options available to us require greater use of our collective resources.

Given that it would be irresponsible and dangerous to take an ideological approach to this debate, here is my question to the government here today: what concrete action does the Conservative government realistically plan to take to help our seniors stay afloat? Also, could the government give us an idea of what sort of timeframes Canada pension plan recipients will have to face, since they are struggling to make ends meet, before seeing a substantial improvement in their quality of life?

Public Safety March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, law enforcement agencies in Canada work hard to fight organized crime, but police officers have to deal with budget and legal constraints.

In addition, aboriginal women are overrepresented when it comes to violence and tragic disappearances. Here too, the police would like to have new legislative tools from the government.

With Bill C-51, the government is overlooking key safety issues and sidestepping other serious problems.

Does the government think it makes sense to combat terrorism when so many other situations also require expanded legal powers?

Social Development March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I regularly get requests for help from organizations in the riding of Montcalm hoping for grants to help cover the cost of renovating their buildings to make them accessible. However, the enabling accessibility fund is inconsistent. Calls for proposals are issued at unpredictable intervals, and this does not allow organizations to prepare applications for specific projects in advance.

Will the government consider keeping this program open year-round and letting people know when the program will be accepting new proposals?

Committees of the House March 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will vote in favour of the motion.

Health March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we must realize that following last week's rather disappointing offer by the government, thalidomide victims who call their riding office are afraid that the compensation offered may be put off indefinitely.

Following the government's apparent accommodation and the steps taken so far, the victims had hoped to receive compensation as quickly as possible. The offer of a lump-sum payment of $125,000 gives the impression that the government does not want to settle and that it hopes to buy time in order to put off cutting the cheques.

The lack of transparency of the terms of the agreement will have to be corrected and clarifications must be made. At this time, the uncertainty is very high and we hope to obtain detailed explanations about the financial aspects of the agreement, as well as the underlying justification for the amount of $125,000, which seems to have been chosen arbitrarily.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health reassure thalidomide victims in the Montcalm riding and across Canada, and confirm her personal commitment and her intention to quickly resolve this matter?