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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

Mercedes Palomino April 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, on April 18, Mercedes Palomino, a leading figure in Quebec theatre, passed away at age 93.

Mercedes Palomino was born in Barcelona and emigrated with her family to South America. She pursued her career in dramatic arts in Chile, Peru, New York and Paris.

She arrived in Montreal in 1948 and a year later, together with Yvette Brind'Amour, founded the first professional theatre in Canada, the Théâtre du Rideau Vert.

She showcased the talents of our home-grown playwrights by featuring the works of Michel Tremblay, Félix Leclerc, Marcel Dubé, Marie-Claire Blais, Françoise Loranger and Gratien Gélinas.

The Bloc Québécois commends the generous contributions made by Mecha, as she was affectionately known by her friends and family, to whom we offer our sincerest condolences.


Mr. Speaker, how can we fight poverty? For example, Quebec has a law to help fight poverty. Quebec has put several measures in place to fight poverty among women, the elderly and so on. It is important that we understand our responsibility toward the people who elected us to represent them in this House.

Beyond fancy speeches and concrete measures, fiscal or otherwise, can we try to look at each group's specific needs and ask ourselves how we can help? Everyone knows that fiscal measures benefit only some of the people. Can we offer financial or fiscal help to these groups of women? This would be very good, because these women are always just barely surviving.

I would like the government to allocate some money to these women, to these groups, in its next budget.


I did not understand the question.


Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his words of encouragement. Indeed, the challenge facing every woman is to reconcile work and family. But I am fortunate to have women like Louise Harel and Pauline Marois, who have been examples of how to reconcile work and family, as my models.

In Quebec, we have a pay equity act; in Canada, we have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter, in fact, gives women equity in terms of rights, but there is no Canadian pay equity law. For example, women who work in businesses governed by federal law do not have pay equity, while in Quebec we have made progress in this and we continue to fight for this right of women. Nonetheless, there is considerable room for improvement in everything. On the federal level, however, there is a kind of legal vacuum that means that women working in the broadcasting industry still do not have this equity.

Speeches saying that we are fighting for equity for women and that we have put rights into charters are all very well, but we are not seeing this in the facts, in those women’s everyday lives. In fact, I will tell you what those women say: they are not seeing it.


Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I did not realize that the period for questions for the hon. member was over. You have caught me by surprise but I will come at it from another direction.

I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

As all Quebeckers must realize, this is my first speech here in the House. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the people of Ahuntsic for placing their trust in me. I would also like to thank my family for their love and support, especially my parents, my brothers and sisters, my husband Ibrahim and my son Christopher.

I would also like to thank all of the Bloc Québécois supporters in the riding of Ahuntsic. I am here today thanks to their hard work. I also send my regards to my team, currently holding the fort in our constituency office. I would also like to acknowledge my former colleagues at CSST, who made it possible for me to be with you here today. Finally, I would like to extend my warmest regards to the Lebanese and Arab communities in Quebec and Canada, and to the people of Lebanon, which I am proud to say is my country of birth, and to those from my home town of Akkar.

I chose Quebec because it offers a good environment in which to achieve the hope of peace and solidarity. I can now say that it also feels good to be chosen by the people there. I will therefore try to prove myself worthy of my fellow citizens' kindness and of the political ideals that I share with my party.

As the ancient Romans said, “scripta manent”, which means, “what is written endures”. Wise people have long known that what is written endures; it follows us and we are judged by what we write.

During the last election campaign, the Prime Minister send a letter to the Feminist Alliance for International Action. The letter stated, and I will quote in English:

Yes, I'm ready to support women's human rights and I agree that Canada has more to do to meet its international obligations to women's equality.

If elected, I will take concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the United Nations, to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women in Canada.

He made a commitment to take concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the UN, to support women's rights.

As we all know, the Prime Minister was elected. The women of Quebec and Canada are now waiting for him to take the concrete and immediate measures he referred to, as the UN recommended. The Speech from the Throne is silent on these measures, which the Prime Minister promised in writing. By signing the letter, what did the Prime Minister pledge to do?

In 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which is also known as the treaty for women's rights.

In 1981, Canada ratified this convention. Twenty-five years later, women still suffer discrimination.

In 2003, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women released its report on Canada. It reads in part as follows:

While appreciating the federal Government's various anti-poverty measures, the Committee is concerned about the high percentage of women living in poverty, in particular elderly women living alone, female lone parents, aboriginal women...immigrant women and women with disabilities, for whom poverty persists or even deepens, aggravated by the budgetary adjustments made since 1995 and the resulting cuts in social services.

I will give a few examples of what the Prime Minister was committing to when he signed the letter. On the issue of violence against women, in paragraph 370, the UN committee asks Canada to “step up its efforts to combat violence against women and girls and increase its funding for women’s crisis centres and shelters.”

What, specifically, will the Prime Minister do about that? I wonder. As regards domestic help, the committee calls for, among other things, a quicker process to enable these household employees to obtain permanent residence. Another fine challenge for the Prime Minister.

In addition, as Ms. Asselin, the president of the Fédération des femmes du Québec, pointed out in an open letter that appeared in La Presse on December 23, the enshrinement of pay equity in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms some 30 years ago has not ensured that women working in businesses under federal jurisdiction enjoy pay equity.

For a number of years now, there has been consensus in Quebec on pay equity. Some 120,000 persons, primarily women, do not have pay equity, simply because they work for firms under federal jurisdiction. Therefore, in Quebec, 120,000 persons are paying the price because Quebec is not independent and master of its directions and its life choices. This lack of pay equity on the federal level leads me to make a comment for my fellow Quebeckers on the relevance of sovereignty. The reason for sovereignty is all the more understandable, despite all that is involved, as is the reason we want to be independent. So, what will the Prime Minister do to honour his signature?

In the debate on Canada's presence in Afghanistan, on April 10, a number of ministers of this government justified it by an altruistic desire to protect the rights of women and children. The Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages said, and I quote:

In addition thanks to Canada's help, more than 4 million children, one-third of them girls, are registered in primary school. Canada is helping to bring concrete, lasting change to the living conditions of women and children in Afghanistan.

The Minister of National Defence said:

For Afghan women to have access to such services was simply unimaginable under the harsh Taliban regime. ...more than 4 million children, one-third of them girls, are registered in primary school.

In my opinion this government seems very sensitive to the cause of Afghan women and children and that makes me very happy.

I presume the same will be true for the women of Quebec and Canada. I also presume that the Prime Minister is a man of his word and that he will keep the promise he made in writing to the women of Quebec and Canada on December 18, 2005.

I will therefore support the Speech from the Throne, since I am an optimist and I have confidence in the word of the Prime Minister, who will, I am sure, go beyond the Speech from the Throne.

Furthermore, I am quite pleased that this government has shown its openness to addressing the fiscal imbalance, which is something we did not see with the previous government. Indeed, the previous government did not even recognize that there was a fiscal imbalance.

This apparent willingness to find fiscal arrangements gives hope. I do not intend to kill that hope.

The current government's desire to address crime is another important aspect of this speech. Nonetheless, we must not forget that criminal behaviour does require repression alone, but also rehabilitation and prevention.

I will close by saying that I will give the Prime Minister a chance to keep his word. In time, the men and women of Quebec and Canada will take notice of what he does and does not do. For now, we will give him the benefit of the doubt, but we are keeping our eyes wide open.


Mr. Speaker, earlier I was listening to the hon. government member speak to us about crime. I heard about increasing the number of police officers, biometric cards and DNA. What the member was talking about was a police state. My question is for the hon. member who is not a member of the government—

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan April 10th, 2006

Mr. Chair, as this is my first intervention, I would like to recognize and thank all the people of Ahuntsic for placing their trust in me. I will try to be worthy of it. I will do my best to that end.

In Quebec, in my riding and in other ridings as well, I have met a lot of people who are very concerned about the presence of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. There was another demonstration in March against Canada's presence in Afghanistan.

I have heard a lot of questions from people, such as, “Who are we to talk about democracy and to think of bringing democracy to countries in the Middle East? Are we any better? Have we got the divine answer? Do we deliver democracy with weapons? Do people establish democracy or is it imposed on them by other people?” Those are the questions I heard.

We do not know anymore whether our intervention in Afghanistan serves a humanitarian cause or whether it is war. It is hard to know. Is it a roundabout way of supporting the war in Iraq? There are no winners in a war, only losers.

My question is for the hon. member. What does she think of all these concerns, of all the questions from Quebec about the presence of Canadian troops in Afghanistan?