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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

Criminal Code June 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak for the other parties. I can only speak on behalf of my own party or myself.

My statement was very clear: I think that this bill is fundamentally bad. Repressing crime is neither the most useful nor the most efficient way to fight it. We have seen proof all over the world that this approach does not work.

Unfortunately, crime scares us and gives rise to very primal human emotions: vengeance, retribution, our inner executioner. That is understandable. We experience these feelings when we watch TV and see a sexual predator get off after molesting several children. That is normal and I understand it.

I understand that this party, the Conservative government—and it looks like the NDP is on board too—has this need for retribution. However, we must ask ourselves what we want. We want to protect our society, our people, our children, our women, our spouses, our siblings, our parents, and our elderly.

With that in mind, what is the best way to reduce crime? Repression has it place, of course, but it must not always be the first option. We must find a fair balance between prevention and rehabilitation. When I say repression, I am not talking about punitive repression, but about incarceration for the purpose of rehabilitation. That means that prisons must be more than just walls. We must invest money in programs offered in prisons. That is what we must do. We must also be careful. Programs for women are not the same as programs for men. We must be careful about that. There are women in Joliette who do not have all of the programs they need.

We must therefore invest money in the right things: prevention, rehabilitation, education and employment. The latter is very important. Why would a young person decide to go make $6,000 a week in a certain neighbourhood, which I will not name here—

Criminal Code June 12th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, as a criminologist who specialized in street gangs, it is a pleasure for me to speak on this bill. It is therefore from the standpoint of a criminologist, and not that of a politician, that I speak today.

As a criminologist, unfortunately I cannot say that this is a great bill. I really wish I could have said it was, but I just cannot. I think that all of us in this House want to combat crime and make Canada and Quebec safer, but the reality is that crime cannot be wiped out. Crime is a social phenomenon that is part of any society. To say that minimum sentences and building prisons would wipe out crime would be deceitful.

It is important to understand that repression is but one approach among many. There are many different ways to deal with crime besides building prisons, increasing law enforcement personnel, stiffening penalties and imposing minimum sentences. It can be done through prevention and rehabilitation.

Any good criminologist will tell you that prison is a school for crime, where inmates hone their skills. It is also a place for rehabilitation. We must therefore be more nuanced in our approach to this extremely complex phenomenon.

In the United States, we have a fine example of crime suppression, that is, of employing a get-tough approach to crime management. We can see that the crime rate in that country is not declining. Is that the road to follow? In my opinion, the answer is no.

It is very important to understand that in crime management—or in sentence management—we are not executioners. I believe we are no longer living in the Middle Ages. We are not executioners, we are legislators. Therefore we must produce intelligent legislation—or at least try to do so—and not base ourselves on the lex talionis of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Sentencing must be fair, intelligent and above all individualized; it must not be based on emotion.

Before getting to the heart of the subject of this bill, I would like to speak to you about street gangs. Street gangs frighten us. We are all afraid of them, both the population and the police who cannot manage to resolve this problem. So what are we doing? We are reverting to a kind of witch hunt accompanied by get-tough measures. Why? Simply because we are afraid of street gangs.

It is important to understand that to counter society’s feeling of insecurity and fear—legitimate fear—we have to inform that society and not use its fear to control it. Whatever we think, that is what is happening now in the United States, under the concept of terrorism.

I will take this opportunity to offer an example of positive action to combat street gangs. I offer this information to the population of Ahuntsic. We will be holding an information forum on street gangs on June 17, from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Ahuntsic CEGEP. All sorts of people will be coming to speak about this phenomenon and demystify it. Here is one productive way to combat street gangs and recruitment to them.

In addition, prevention with young people is crucial. We have to prevent this recruitment. A great deal of this is already being done, by numerous organizations. Within the police itself, social and community officers are going into schools to talk about street gangs. However, let us ask ourselves this question. How do we react to the fact of a government investing $20 million in prevention and $1 billion in suppression? It is incredible!

There is one important thing. When we talk about gangs, a small group of young people displaying criminal behaviour does not constitute a street gang. There are major gangs, which are very well organized. These are involved in narcotics trafficking and prostitution. They make millions and billions of dollars a year, and have very close ties to organized crime. These gangs use the sweat and blood of children to sell their dope and execute contracts to kill people. That is clear.

But are we going to go after these children or are we going to go after these adults 25, 30 and 35 years old who are filling their pockets and own big houses and Hummers?

We need to think about what we are going after.

An 18-year-old, who has reached the age of majority, is incarcerated in the Leclerc detention centre. He is a very proud member of the Crypts. Where is he placed? With the Hells Angels at the Leclerc detention centre. Great. We are furthering his education. That is the reality of life in prison.

Repression poses another problem, and that is racial profiling. Of course, we have the profile of a typical gang member: black, Arab or Latino, wearing jeans backwards and a red or blue bandanna. In crime repression, we have to be careful not to get into racial profiling. Ethnic origin does not mean street gangs. This is very important. However this is not how we perceive street gangs today.

I am giving the example of street gangs to show that this bill will not address the phenomenon of street gangs. We have to deal with the root of the problem. Sure, we can exercise repression and arrest adults. But we need to think about prevention for minors and youth.

One nonsensical aspect of this bill made me laugh. On the one hand, the government wants to eliminate the requirement to register hunting rifles. On the other hand, it wants to exempt hunting rifles from this bill.

Yet 35% of homicides committed with firearms involve hunting rifles. Do members know that from 1994 to 2003, 67% or two thirds of homicides involving children and youth that were solved were committed by a family member?

In addition, 76% of murder-suicides that occurred between 1961 and 2003 involved family members and were usually committed with a firearm. Of course, 38% of children between 7 and 17 who are murdered by a family member are killed with a firearm.

Firearms are the weapons most commonly used in spousal murder-suicides and are used in 64% of murder-suicides committed by male spouses.

We are not talking about street gangs, but ordinary citizens at home with their family. That is one thing. As well, I do not believe that these people collect handguns. I think that they collect hunting rifles. We therefore have to ask ourselves questions about that.

I wonder what this government really wants. Does it want to reduce crime? Does it want to drum up business for the firearm and maybe the hunting rifle lobbies? Are we sending gang members the message that they should use hunting rifles because that way they can slip through the loopholes?

With its repressive approach, this bill is not good as far as crime is concerned. This cocktail of minimum sentences cannot produce the results the government is seeking. It is legitimate and it is fine; we all want to reduce crime. However, we will vote against it; at least I will.

I would like to make one small clarification, though, because it is something I feel strongly about. There is one form of crime for which I am in favour of minimum sentences, namely sexual assault. I am totally in favour of a minimum punishment in such cases. This is not with a view to repression, however, but to rehabilitation.

I worked with sex offenders for a long time, and I know that an individual who goes into prison and comes out without following any programs or treatment, or without any psychological follow-up, is very dangerous. An individual who goes into any penitentiary spends from six to nine months in a regional reception centre. He is subsequently sent to another penitentiary. Once there, the individual must think about whether he really wants to follow a course of treatment. It may take three, four, five or six months, even a year. Then the treatment is one year long, with follow-up inside or outside. Do we think that a sentence of two years plus a day will enable a sex offender to be rehabilitated? In my opinion, no. I have seen it, I have been through it, and I have worked with these people.

What I can say, though, is that we cannot cure a sex offender. We can only help him to control himself and make him less dangerous. So there has to be a minimum sentence for this type of offence, in light of the time it takes to administer the sentence in prison.

As we can see, the Criminal Code is extremely complex. We cannot amend it indiscriminately. It is important to amend it intelligently, carefully, and to base our struggle against crime not only on repression, but rather on rehabilitation, integration in the labour market and prevention, in addition to combating poverty and intolerance.

Criminal Code June 6th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, is the debate resumed? I lost track.

Citizenship and Immigration June 5th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, tensions are high between Syria and Lebanon. Nevertheless, Lebanese people who wish to emigrate to Canada must go to the Canadian embassy in Damascus, Syria, to apply. These people and their families have good reason to be worried.

Does the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration intend to offer immigration services at his embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, so that Lebanese people applying for permanent residency can do so there? The embassy exists. What is the minister waiting for?

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan May 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, this government talks of democracy, but the Prime Minister said earlier in the House that, if the vote did not support his decision, he could care less, he would extend the mission for a year.

This government wants to go to Afghanistan to defend the rights of women. However, today, the Fédération des femmes du Québec sent a letter expressing its opposition to the war in Afghanistan.

It added that, if the Government of Canada tried to legitimize this intervention claiming that it is to protect women and children, it had to consider that the largest group of women in Quebec, in solidarity with Afghan women, opposed this military intervention and instead advocated investing in a civil society and increasing democratic development.

What is the truth? Why does this government want the extension? It should tell us why it wants to go to Afghanistan. Why does it want to extend the mission by two years?

What does the hon. member think of all that?

Sister Annette Bellavance May 17th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge Sister Annette Bellavance of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, who was principal of Collège Regina Assumpta for 35 years. This educational institution is located in the heart of my riding, Ahuntsic.

As the members may recall, in March 2005, Sister Annette received an eloquent tribute during a ceremony organized by the Ahuntsic Cartierville Business People's Association, which also gave her an award for her community involvement.

On May 21, she will participate in the closing ceremonies of Collège Regina Assumpta's 50th anniversary celebration during a reunion of the college's alumni, teachers and staff members.

I would like to wish Sister Annette a happy reunion and to thank her for her devotion.

Défi Sportif May 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the 23rd edition of the Défi Sportif was held April 26 to 30 at the Claude-Robillard sports complex in my riding of Ahuntsic.

Over 2,800 athletes whose disabilities were of five types—auditory, intellectual, physical, psychiatric or visual—came from 13 different countries. In all, 14 types of sports were involved during the five days of the Défi Sportif. Over 250 clubs and 30 primary and secondary schools took part. Over 800 volunteers and 350 trainers ensured the success of this unique event which, since 1984, has promoted a dynamic image of persons with a disability.

I took part in the awards ceremony at the 23rd edition of Défi Sportif and I must tell you I have nothing but admiration for the courage of the athletes and the generosity of the volunteers.

My congratulations to Défi sportif on the nobleness of heart, which is even a greater reflection on Quebec.

The Budget May 8th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague for his speech. However, I would like to know what he thinks about the fact that there is absolutely nothing in this budget for women. Would he give the nod to an investment in women of $100 million through the Women's Program, among others?

Pay Equity May 1st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, female workers in Quebec have been protected since 1996 from sexual discrimination in jobs held mainly by women. However, that is not so for women in Quebec working under the Canada Labour Code.

Since the federal government is already ten years behind Quebec's pay equity legislation, will it take advantage of May Day to announce in this House that it will correct this aberration very shortly?

International Bridges and Tunnels Act May 1st, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member on his speech. I would like to know what he thinks of the fact that the government will establish guidelines on approving the construction of new bridges and tunnels and the alteration of existing ones.

Does he think that these guidelines should be established in cooperation with the provinces, taking into account, among other things, the particularities of the provinces and the landscape and especially the environmental impact.