House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

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

Won her last election, in 2011, with 32% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Transportation April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to talk about Uber. First of all, it is important to know that the people who talk on behalf of Uber in Canada are advertising and public relations people. The company that collects money from customers is called Uber B.V., which is a Dutch company that belongs to Uber International C.V. This company is headquartered in Bermuda, a tax haven that does not have any taxes and guarantees banking secrecy. Therefore, when someone uses Uber they are, quite simply, supporting tax havens. Uber B.V. has no known office in Canada. This company is not registered on any business registry in Canada or Quebec. In fact, this company siphons money from Canada but does not pay taxes. The only way to contact the company's principals is to use email, since there is no known local phone number.

Uber boasted that it was about 30% cheaper than a regular taxi. We should ask ourselves how that is possible.

First, we know that the taxi industry is regulated to ensure the safe and efficient transportation of people. Taxicabs are appropriately insured and regularly inspected. The drivers are known. That kind of oversight generates costs, of course, but it also protects the public. Uber is not subject to these regulations at all, so it is saving money at the expense of client safety.

Second, from a taxation perspective, we have, on the one hand, the taxi industry, which in Montreal is primarily made up of independent drivers who pay all taxes. Through its billing system, the industry reports all of the income earned by its workers and operators. On the other hand, we have Uber, where the application of tax rules is pretty vague. Some say that Uber collects GST and QST on behalf of its drivers, but others say it does not. There are no GST and QST numbers associated with the transactions. Some say that there is no receipt that includes the GST and QST. Confusion reigns.

One thing is certain, however: Uber BV, which operates UberX, is not listed in either Quebec's or Canada's business registry. We also have to ask ourselves this: is Uber BV giving Revenue Canada the names of all the individuals who are bringing in transportation revenues? Will the Canadian government use its laws and regulations to rein in this business, which, in my opinion, is sucking the lifeblood out of Canada's economy? Uber is affecting the lives of Canadians as well as businesses, including the taxi industry, which pays its income tax and creates real wealth in our society.

We must take action. This is crucial. We can no longer accept this kind of situation.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I certainly believe that we have a role to play in Iraq and that our role should be humanitarian, as I have said. Our role should be as agents of peace who can enable different groups to speak to each other.

Most importantly, we have to help our allies on the ground, especially in terms of providing weapons. That might seem like military action, but it is not really. Still, that is also something we really have to think about. I recently read a statement by a UN mediator:

Everyone says there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict, but the fact is that everyone is working toward a military solution. Everyone is supplying weapons and training someone or other. The Secretary-General of the United Nations is the only one asking countries to stop sending arms to Syria.

Will having more weapons serve any purpose whatsoever? Will more war solve the problem? I do not think so. There are things we must do, but not that kind of thing.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague. Perhaps we are not meeting the same people.

I have also met people from the Syrian and the Iraqi communities. One thing is certain: Daesh is an entity that elicits strong reactions from everyone. The vast majority of people agree on that, whether they are Muslims or Christians, from the Middle East or elsewhere.

I do not like to use the term “enemy” because I am basically a pacifist. I would prefer to use a criminology term. I would say that it is a criminal group, and we must do everything we can to stop it. That will depend on the strategy we adopt. What I am seeing is that, on the ground, the war unfortunately is pointless and does not solve anything. We fought al-Qaeda, which turned into something else known as Daesh and al-Nusra.

What people want is for Canadians to be agents of peace, to provide humanitarian assistance, to work to unite those people, the Shia and Sunni Muslims who may be in conflict. Most importantly, combatting violent extremism does not mean dropping bombs, but rather working here, in Canada, to combat this ideology. We are not doing that.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by expressing my respect for our Canadian soldiers who risk their lives every day on the many missions carried out around the world.

I am pleased to speak today to this government motion to extend the military mission in Iraq. I think that as parliamentarians, we should always ask ourselves what role our country should play in the world in response to conflict and threats. We also have a duty to ask ourselves whether we have the resources to serve our ambitions and, most importantly, whether we are acting in our own best interests or in the best interests of others.

Since this Conservative government was elected in 2006, it has actively worked to redefine Canada as a military country. Is that truly the role we should play in the world, when we have just over 35 million people?

In the recent past, Canadians were known around the world as a country of peacekeepers and peacemakers. Our country was also known for its humanitarian assistance. At the UN, Canada even championed development by calling for an overall contribution equivalent to 0.7% of the GNP of the richest countries in the global fight against poverty.

There are currently only about 300 Canadian peacekeepers left on missions around the world. In 2013, CIDA was absorbed by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Canada's image has been changing bit by bit. When I participated in foreign missions, most of the elected representatives and ministers I met in those countries, particularly in the Middle East, asked me what was going on with Canada. This rebranding of who Canadians are in the eyes of the world must stop.

Here is another question: the Prime Minister wants to get involved in conflicts, but do we have the means to go to war? Do we have the means to fulfill the Prime Minister's ambitions? This March, Canada's remaining troops are coming back from Afghanistan. How much did the mission in Afghanistan cost us? That is a good question. In 2008, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, predicted that the mission would cost $18.1 billion. When I hear that number, I think of everything we could have done with $18 billion. That is incredible. He also said it would take years to get final numbers on what Afghanistan cost us.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's very recent analysis in the report of February 17, 2015, entitled “Cost Estimate of Operation IMPACT in Iraq”, which deals with the Prime Minister's first six-month mission, the estimated incremental cost of Operation IMPACT ranges between a high of $166.4 million and a low of $128.8 million. That is for six months, and furthermore, the Parliamentary Budget Officer did not have all the figures.

Accordingly, the estimated incremental cost of Operation IMPACT for a 12-month mission, which is what the Prime Minister wants, since the motion calls for extending the mission until March 30, 2016, ranges between a high of $351.2 million and a low of $242.7 million. That is on top of the more than $166.4 million the first six-month mission cost us. It is worth noting that the full costs for Canada’s most recent overseas mission, which was Operation Mobile in Libya, were almost six times the reported incremental costs for the mission.

The actual cost is always greater than the estimated cost. The government can certainly tell us that it will cost x dollars, but we can expect there to be a gap, if not an abyss, between the actual cost and the estimated cost.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, for the government to be able to wage its wars, it would have to inject funds into defence or simply reduce its military ambitions. However, that does not fit with its ideology.

All these billions of dollars that the government wasted on useless and ineffective military missions could have been invested in humanitarian aid. Yes, it handed out a few crumbs, we can all agree on that, but it could have given more because those activities work in the long term. It also could have helped lift the local populations out of poverty and injustice. That is what Canada is good at.

Instead of all those nice things, this government chooses to go to war. It wants to be the champion of fighting terrorism, but for now, unfortunately, the people are just being lulled by the government into believing that it is working for their security. It wants to create a sense of security, but this is not security. The government is creating bogus laws to distract people and have them believe that it is protecting them.

If this government invested just 10% of all the billions of dollars it is investing in the war to help prevent violent extremism, a lot fewer young people would leave Canada to join Jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria or even Somalia.

Moreover, whose interests are we defending on these missions? Is it truly the interests of Canadians? Canada belongs to a coalition led by the United States, but what is the goal of the United States, which is in negotiations with Iran?

Last Wednesday, the American-led coalition launched air strikes to officially help the Iraqi forces recapture Tikrit from Daesh. I urge my colleagues to use “Daesh” instead of “Islamic State” because it is not an Islamic state. It is a terrorist group known as Daesh.

The international community knows that the Iraqi offensive in Tikrit, which started on March 2, involves soldiers and police officers, but also paramilitary groups, including the notorious popular mobilization forces, groups essentially made up of Shia militias backed by Iran. The Iranians have provided artillery and advice to these Shia militias.

However, there is an Iranian general, Ghasem Soleimani, on the ground leading the Quds, a unit of the Iranian revolutionary guard. If Canada participates, will the Iranians be our allies?

There are also questions about some coalition allies with respect to porous borders, the acquisition of weapons by Daesh, the sale of oil to Daesh and stolen archeological artifacts.

Members will also recall the al-Nusra jihadists, who have ties to al-Qaeda and who allegedly crossed the Turkish border to attack the Syrian city of Kessab, which has a majority Armenian population, as well as the city of Maaloula, a Christian city.

There is also the issue of the Kurds, not to mention the war in Yemen.

My major question is this: are we going to get involved in these conflicts between the Shia and Sunni Muslims or are we going to help them to sit down at the same table and come to an agreement?

These are very complex conflicts. It is important to have a clear foreign policy to guide our national defence policy, but what is our foreign policy—

Public Safety March 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, fighting terrorism requires resources, not just laws. I have heard a lot about Bill C-51 from police officers on the ground who, until now, have been working with communities to identify at-risk youth. These officers have told me that Bill C-51 will interfere with their work and the trust they have built with these young people and their families.

Moreover, the RCMP does not have all the resources it needs. We cannot tell a police force that it has to handle national security without giving it additional resources. Resources allocated to organized crime will be transferred to national security, and that is unacceptable.

I would like to make another point. They talk about understanding the phenomenon and addressing it, but for that to happen, there has to be research. Research needs funding, not cuts.

To close, I want to say that it is fine for people to do some verbal sparring and talk about what they are going to do, but what really matters is taking action. That is not what we are seeing from this government.

Public Safety March 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I rise today for this adjournment debate to raise a question that I asked the Minister of Public Safety on January 30. It was my second question on the same subject. I told him that it was all very well to introduce law after law on terrorism, but that we should do something else. Not only do the Conservatives' laws violate people's rights, but they are completely ineffective on the ground. In any event, that is what I have heard.

I told the minister that these laws would not prevent young people from going to Iraq or to Syria. Quite the opposite. I see no additional support whatsoever. The government constantly talks about national security, but it has not given additional resources to the RCMP or CSIS.

Take, for example, the RCMP. I learned that this agency was asked to handle national security without being given the necessary resources to do so. In reality, that means that resources currently allocated to the fight against criminal organizations will be allocated to national security. Accordingly, the fight against organized crime, which is very important, is being abandoned. That is a monumental mistake. Instead of giving more responsibilities and fewer resources, the government should make more investments in national security.

The other important aspect is prevention, a word missing from the Conservatives' vocabulary. It is a difficult concept for them to understand. It is unfortunate that there is no discussion about prevention when it comes to fighting crime and national security. I give this government a failing grade on prevention.

Not a single cent has been invested in national security. Prevention involves public awareness campaigns and training. It also involves working on the ground with organizations, schools and so on. Once again, I would give the government a failing grade, unfortunately.

Research is another important aspect. Research on crime is extremely important, as it is in many other fields. The Kanishka research project was worthwhile, but the government decided not to renew it.

There are other great initiatives, like the Extreme Dialogue project, which is another prevention tool. This project still exists, but will it have funding to continue? We do not know. There is little research being done, and the tools we have now will not be maintained. The government is not doing any prevention and it is telling the police to handle national security without giving them a single cent more.

This government's policy on combatting violent extremism is a big fat failure.

Action Week Against Racism March 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this week is Quebec's semaine d'action contre le racisme, a week of action to fight racism, and, irony of ironies, next Saturday the Pegida organization, a group that fuels Islamophobia through its Muslim conspiracy theories, is holding a rally in Montreal's Little Maghreb.

In Germany, Angela Merkel has warned her citizens and urged them not to take part in Pegida's rallies, saying that the members of that organization have hearts filled with “prejudice, coldness and hatred”.

Yesterday I asked the Prime Minister to join the German Chancellor in condemning the group. Nothing, radio silence. Even though CSIS regards the group as a real security risk, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and his Prime Minister have not said a word.

Today I rise to once again to ask them to show some courage and take concrete action against this unscrupulous Islamophobia, even though this government's current strategy seems to centre on exploiting people's fear of Muslims.

Foreign Affairs March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the government does not seem to have much to say about this.

Here are the facts. Mr. Badawi did not do anything wrong. All he did was create a blog in support of freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia. His family has political asylum here, so he has some significant ties to Quebec and Canada.

When will the Prime Minister call for his release? I do not understand why he does not talk about Mr. Badawi during his discussions with the Saudi princes, the representatives and the heads of state there.

I would ask my colleague to ensure that his leader, his Prime Minister, do this, so that it does not take 10 years for Mr. Badawi to get to Canada.

Foreign Affairs March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Raif Badawi is a Saudi Arabian. In 2008, he and Souad al-Shammari, a Saudi Arabian women's rights activist, created the site Free Saudi Liberals in support of religious freedom. It was a blog where people could discuss this issue online.

In 2008, he was arrested, questioned and then released. Nevertheless, he was charged with creating a website that insults Islam and forced to leave the country. He returned to Saudi Arabia in 2009 and, although the charges against him had supposedly been dropped, he was banned from leaving the country and had his bank account frozen.

In 2011, he was again arrested on charges that his website undermined religious values. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for religious insult and blasphemy. The first 50 lashes were administered but the rest of his punishment has been repeatedly postponed, as we have heard in the media.

I, along with other parliamentarians from other places, met with Mr. Badawi's wife, and she told us how urgent the situation is. We know that her husband's physical and emotional health has greatly deteriorated. We must therefore take action.

Many countries have reacted to this inhumane situation. For example, Sweden's foreign affairs minister said that the practice of flogging is straight out of the Middle Ages, and the Swedish government has not renewed its military co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia, which expires in May.

Mr. Badawi's wife, Ms. Haidar, has been living in Quebec with their children since October 31, 2013, and the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Couillard, told representatives of Saudi authorities in Canada that we want to bring Mr. Badawi here.

Furthermore, Quebec's international affairs minister, my colleague the member for Acadie, Christine St-Pierre, called Mr. Badawi's treatment inhumane and called on the Conservative government to take action in light of the family's situation, even though Mr. Badawi is not a Canadian citizen.

The federal government has granted Mrs. Badawi and her children the status of political refugees in Canada.

People in Sherbrooke mobilized and held vigils to support Mr. Badawi. A vigil was also held in Quebec City. Elected officials in Montreal unanimously called on the Canadian government to take action.

However, the Prime Minister is the first to talk about barbaric practices when it suits him, and we even voted today on a bill that he decided to call the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. He likes to talk about barbarism.

Will he follow the Quebec premier's lead and ask that Mr. Badawi be sent here? Will he personally get involved in this case?

Foreign Affairs March 23rd, 2015

I am sorry. There is too much noise.