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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

Status of Women March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, women with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty than men with disabilities. According to Statistics Canada, these women are also almost twice as likely as other women to be the victims of domestic violence. In addition to physical violence, almost all women with disabilities experience psychological, verbal or emotional abuse. One of the major obstacles to breaking this cycle of abuse is that these women may be afraid to speak out because of isolation and dependence issues.

What programs are in place to break this cycle of poverty and abuse?

Paralympic Winter Games March 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today, the 11th Paralympic Winter Games open in Sochi. Great athletes from across Canada will be taking part in the games. Medallists Benoît St-Amand and Ina Forrest will be competing in sledge hockey and wheelchair curling respectively. A special mention goes out to Yves Bourque, who, at age 46, is participating in the Paralympic Winter Games for the first time in the para-Nordic cross-country skiing event.

These Canadians are true role models. In addition to keeping up with the demanding lifestyle of a high performance athlete, they have to deal with the challenges of their disability. We think this shows extraordinary tenacity and determination. However, following the recent events in Ukraine, I sincerely hope that the games will remain safe and unfold harmoniously in the spirit of sportsmanship

In closing, on behalf of the NDP and myself, I wish the best of luck to our athletes who are representing Canada's colours on the world stage.

Agricultural Growth Act March 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior.

Today, I rise to speak to an issue that is close to my heart and very important to the people of the magnificent riding of Montcalm.

Montcalm includes the nine municipalities of the Montcalm RCM, and nearly 80% of the land is farmed. That is the riding I represent, and I have lived there for many years. I will not say how many years so as not to give away my age.

I love Montcalm. Many people there, including many of my friends, make their living from agriculture. That is why I think it is essential to go over this bill carefully before imposing new changes that will undoubtedly have many repercussions on my constituents.

Once again, the Conservatives have presented us with an omnibus bill including many changes that should be debated more thoroughly and reviewed carefully. With the agriculture sector being so very complex, it is hard to do this quickly.

The bill proposes amendments to nine different acts. We are supporting it today because we believe that the bill at least deserves to be properly examined by a parliamentary committee. Serious questions need to be asked, and we believe that some provisions need to be carefully reviewed.

Like all of my NDP colleagues, I believe that priority should be given to a balanced approach. We are going to protect farmers and Canada's public sector researchers. We must take everyone's best interests into account. The agri-food sector should not have to pay the price for the Conservative government's ideology-based policies.

The NDP is trying to be as responsible as possible. In fact, one of our objectives is to ensure that Canadians have access to and can benefit from our agricultural heritage. We also need to understand how all of these changes will affect producers.

At first glance, the safety measures proposed with regard to seeds, plants and animals should result in additional resources for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Unfortunately, the bill does not seem to address this essential public safety issue.

What is more, the current government has earned a negative reputation with its many cuts to the Canadian monitoring agencies that are supposed to protect the safety of Canadian consumers. The Conservatives made devastating cuts to the food inspection system. We must ensure that such mistakes and the serious consequences they have do not happen again.

Bill C-18 does not have the unanimous support of the stakeholders affected by it. The 1991 Act , which the government signed but still has not ratified, is controversial. Some groups, including the National Farmers Union, do not want the 1991 Act to be ratified and have already spoken out against Bill C-18.

Meanwhile, other organizations, including Keystone Agricultural Producers, the Prairie Oat Growers Association, the Grain Growers of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, have expressed their support for the bill. They believe that the government has found a good balance between producers' ability to make their research profitable and—

Employment February 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, people with disabilities have to overcome enormous challenges and work hard to meet their needs. They should not have to pay for the federal government's stubbornness.

Organizations such as Collaborative Partnership Network provide people with disabilities the support they need to find a job and keep it.

If the minister will not negotiate in good faith with the provinces, could he at least commit to providing bridge funding so that organizations like Collaborative Partnership Network can continue their work?

Canada Post February 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the end of door-to-door mail delivery is another barrier to the integration and independence of people in wheelchairs. Canada Post is not taking the situation seriously. Its solution is to provide an extra key so that these people's friends and neighbours can pick up their mail for them. Quite frankly, that is ridiculous.

When will the minister leave the Ottawa bubble to listen to what people living with functional limitations have to say about her plan?

The Budget February 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to reply to my colleague.

When we talk about a budget, we are talking about choices. This morning, I was speaking with a man from my riding by the name of Jean-Guy, who told me that he did not want to see a passive budget. He was particularly keen on seeing the government take action to make life more affordable and to reduce the excessive cost of everything. He wanted to look forward to a secure retirement and to see job creation for young people, neither of which were addressed in the budget. It is deplorable.

The Budget February 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I find that absolutely appalling. I have said it before in an adjournment debate, but I will repeat it nonetheless. It is inhuman to tell disabled people that they have to walk along an icy sidewalk to fetch their mail. Everyone knows that it makes no sense. It will certainly be a hardship for them.

I called Canada Post personally and spoke with a woman there, who told me that in order to accommodate persons with disabilities, they are going to be offered a second key for their mailbox which they can give to a neighbour willing to pick up their mail at the same time as their own. If the neighbour asks them for money to do so, then people who generally have very little money will have to pay to receive their mail.

Canada Post also told me that there was a special service for persons with disabilities and that mail could be delivered to their home on request. I tested this out twice, in Sainte-Marie-Salomé and Saint-Jacques. It has been over a week and a half now, and I am still awaiting a reply. I can only guess that there is no such service.

The Budget February 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying something that seems obvious to me. This budget, which is supposed to represent Canada’s economic action plan for 2014, does not give me any hope that the people in the Montcalm riding will be making any progress. In fact, it seems to me rather that it is condemning my region to inertia and postponing its economic health until next year. The Conservatives did not even bother to hide their vote-seeking intentions.

Unfortunately, under the Conservatives we have become used to these kinds of schemes that are detrimental to the working men and women who are propping up our economy and families that are more in debt than ever and that ignore regions that do not hold much political influence. They are fostering political cynicism and backroom wrangling, at the expense of the democratic debate on which Canada’s traditions are based. Canadians deserve better—it is as simple as that. The Conservatives' attitude is irresponsible, and the government is clearly showing that its re-election is by far the number one priority on its agenda. Recently, we heard a throne speech that was based on the government’s alleged desire to better protect consumers and serve their interests.

In light of the ever more stringent requirements of the business and corporate sectors, Canadians expect to be properly represented in Ottawa. The least we can say is that the government is still a long way from meeting the minimum needs of Canadian consumers. To protect consumers, more than hot air is needed.

First of all, there must be an environmental protection agency that has the power to act. Second, there must be a monitoring agency for food products that has both the power and the staff to guarantee Canadians that what they are eating is fit for human consumption. Third, there must be researchers and scientists who write reports on the impact of industrial development and the best way of ensuring that the future will be as profitable as current and past endeavours have been. The machinery of government must serve each and every Canadian objectively and without ideological fanaticism.

Are the Conservatives afraid of the machinery of government? Do they not understand how things are supposed to work?

With this budget, the Conservatives have an opportunity to correct a number of problems, problems that they themselves caused. If they are so concerned about being re-elected, they should make a sincere effort to implement effective measures that will make the voters happy.

Do I have to repeat this? The NDP has put forward numerous appropriate solutions to the daily struggles Canadian families face. The NDP has repeatedly offered to work with the government to alleviate the economic burden on Canadians.

There have been approximately 300,000 jobs lost in Canada since before the recession, and this budget gives us very little hope that the trend can be reversed. The Conservative government has missed a golden opportunity to alleviate some of the burden on Canadian families, and its action plan does not address the situation of the most vulnerable Canadians. In fact, the budget does not contain any new investment to create high-quality jobs and lets the increase in the number of precarious jobs help Canada’s employment statistics look better than they really are. In light of the record youth unemployment rate, the government has missed an opportunity to correct the situation and give young Canadians a brighter future. As shameful as this might be, the budget does not contain a single measure to help the vast majority of young Canadians.

The NDP will not leave anyone out. We prefer to spread hope rather than the Conservative ideology, which keeps on digging an ever deeper hole for the prospect of a better future for thousands of people who are turned off by cheap partisan politics.

The Conservatives are suggesting to Canadians that they hang in there. They seem to be less and less able to understand the issues people face. When they claim that they do, they rarely put their money where their mouth is. We were happy that the government seemed open to the measures put forward by the NDP, such as banning exorbitant fees for bank transactions and lowering the disproportionate interest rates charged by some credit companies, that is, saving Canadians money by limiting unreasonable practices.

It is not just the tax system that has an impact on Canadians’ assets. Sound management is always welcome. However, the government has to do more and do better. The government is promising to act, but it is very difficult for us to trust the government after so many broken promises. As usual, we will keep a very close eye on it. We will force it to be accountable, if it does not keep its word again.

Let us face it, this year’s budget is nothing but window dressing. It is more style than substance for individuals.

I am still wondering how they can possibly think they will be able to tackle the 25% difference in prices between products sold here and those sold in the United States. It is a nice thought, but they do not say how they are going to pull off this coup. It seems to be just smoke and mirrors.

The government has brought down a typically Conservative budget, a budget that is to its own advantage and that, despite its repeated failures in this regard, again focuses on reducing the deficit and the debt, even though it is one of the lowest in the developed world.

In fueling this obsession, the Conservatives have forgotten that the main goal is to allow taxpayers to keep as much money as they can. In addition, they do not seem to understand that it is money from ordinary Canadians that has made Canada one of the richest countries in the world. It is not the banks or natural resource development or huge financial corporations that contribute the most to our communal pot, but rather individuals, people like us.

It would have been a good time to loosen the reins a bit; it would have been a good idea to shelve their ideology and use some common sense. The simple, effective and inexpensive measures proposed by the NDP would have been well received, but apparently this government thinks electoral imperatives are more important than sound governance.

Balance as a concept implies that a number of elements must be balanced. Even though they say this budget is balanced, I am puzzled to see that it has shelved a number of policies that could have helped offset a number of the inequities that are irritants for Canadians.

Allow me to say that the residents of Mascouche will not be very happy with this budget. The people of Saint-Lin—Laurentides, Saint-Jacques, Sainte-Julienne, Saint-Calixte, Saint-Roch, Saint-Esprit, Saint-Alexis, Saint-Liguori and Sainte-Marie-Salomé, all these residents in the great riding of Montcalm will be left in limbo. They were expecting something better, but this budget has disappointment written all over it. The government is letting down people who had confidence in it, and they will not soon forget the sacrifices that the government has forced them to make.

I will use my remaining two minutes to talk about my file on disability issues.

The pile of complaints in my office from agencies working with the disabled is growing. These agencies do not have the same funding capabilities as other organizations for able-bodied professionals, that is, universities and health centres, primarily because their clients are some of the poorest and the most marginalized people in Canadian society.

Nevertheless, because of their structure and the funds they receive, these agencies attach great importance to providing services to the disabled and to making fundamental changes.

The changes made by the federal government to the funding formulas for national organizations working with the disabled have put real pressure on these agencies. This will have a direct impact on services and assistance for the disabled. Less support will be given to their network, and jobs held by the disabled will be lost, support services will be eliminated and there will less help for the disabled and for those who are the most vulnerable and underserved people in the disabled community.

I think I still have a little bit of time. I will just say a word about our veterans. After getting rid of some regional points of service for veterans throughout the country, the government is persisting in offering them online services. This is not what the veterans need. They need to speak to a real person. There is no new money for the veterans and there is no commitment to reopen Veterans Affairs regional offices.

Petitions February 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the people of Montcalm and Mascouche would like to draw to the attention of the House the fact that the current government spends over $1.3 billion a year on subsidies to the oil and gas industry. They feel that those subsidies are incentives for energy sources that produce high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and discourage investments in green and renewable solutions. Accordingly, they think this money would be better spent on renewable energy, clean technologies and improvements to energy efficiency to address climate change.

Canada Post February 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, to answer my colleague, I am not refusing to see the reality. On the contrary, I am well aware of how the budget cuts at Canada Post will affect people with disabilities.

I am almost tempted to invite my colleague to come to Montreal in the dead of winter and try to just get to a mailbox outside when the sidewalks are covered in snow. It is very disheartening to see that the government does not recognize the problems this is going to cause.

That said, when you use paratransit, you must provide a starting address and a destination address. In between, in many cases, paratransit asks you to wait in the same spot for at least one hour. If you have to wait outside in -25°C to go to the mailbox, that is a heck of a long time. I am not sure these people understand that.

Is there no way to set up a service so that people with disabilities can get their mail at home?