- Her favourite word was riding.
Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot (Québec)
Won her last election, in 2011, with 52% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd Parliament June 10th, 2015
Mr. Chair, two weeks ago, I made my last member's statement. I admit that I was very emotional. I did not think that I would have another chance to rise in the House to speak. I would therefore like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to have more than one minute to thank everyone properly.
I rise today with a voice filled with emotion. I do not want to talk about everything I have done during my time here; I would rather remember how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to be a member of Parliament for four years, four years in which I found extraordinary colleagues with whom I shared good times and some not so good times.
Together, we were elected in 2011. Together, we dealt with the death of our leader, the late Jack Layton. Together, with party members, we chose the member for Outremont as the leader of our party, and I know that we made the right choice. Together, we stood up to the government, which—let us be honest—was not always easy. All joking aside, it is important to mention the cordiality that exists here in this Parliament between the members of all parties.
Over the past four years I have gotten to know all of the dedicated people who work in the House of Commons.
The Speaker and deputy speakers do not have an easy job, and I commend them. The clerks are procedural wizards, and we could not do without their expertise. The analysts make our research much easier.
The members of the security team and the RCMP are always smiling. I must also point out that they did an excellent job during the tragic events of October 22, 2014. The pages make our lives in the House much easier.
Despite my loquaciousness, the translators have always rendered me so well in English.
Although we truly appreciate the bus drivers in the middle of January or in the driving rain, we appreciate them every day of the year.
The food service team brightens my mornings and ensures that my day ends well. The maintenance team ensures that our work environment is always clean and pleasant.
The mail team always gives me my mail with a big smile, no matter how many times I forget my keys.
I am sure that I am missing some, but I hope everyone knows that life on Parliament Hill would be quite dull and dysfunctional if not for you.
I would also like to thank everyone in the whip's office, the house leader's office and the leader's office. Your work is essential to ours. Thank you.
I also feel it is important to salute my team's work. In all humility, an MP cannot do much without a team.
Thanks to Yvon for making sure that people who come to my office with a problem leave with a solution. Thanks to Vicky for warmly welcoming all of the people who come to our office. Thanks to Pierre for doing such a great job of representing me in my riding while I am in Ottawa. Thanks to Yanéric for all of the research and answers you give me.
Garanké, Stéphanie, Geneviève, Sarah and Philippe, you spent some time in my office, and you certainly left your mark. My work would not have been the same without the work you did for the people of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
I am proud of the work I did during my term. Being the housing critic gave me a chance to raise awareness of certain problems and talk about them with local and national stakeholders.
I also had an opportunity to introduce a bill on a national housing strategy. It was not passed, but I believe there is always next time.
I also had the opportunity to chair the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. It was an enriching experience where I learned to work effectively with several parties.
I was also a member of a few committees of the House, including the Standing Committee on Official Languages and the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.
In my riding, I had the honour of being named the honorary patron of various causes, including homelessness and mental health.
I also had the chance to work on various files with top-notch people in my riding, including in agriculture. We did an agricultural tour where we met a number of stakeholders.
During my term, we also did two tours of municipalities during which we discussed infrastructure, local development and other very interesting topics, and everything that goes on in the municipalities in my riding.
I had the chance to work in immigration, by providing help and information. I had the chance to tour businesses to discuss employment insurance. I had the chance to raise awareness about homelessness and mental health and to hold public consultations.
I attended a number of diverse activities in my region from Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale to Saint-Jude and Sainte-Christine, and I am delighted. I was always happy to meet my constituents and listen to their concerns, and hear about their interests and passions. It is often said that a region can be judged by the people who live there. Well, I am here to say that Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot is a great riding. The people there are welcoming, kind, vibrant, innovative and lively.
“Welcoming” is exemplified by Acton Vale, which is part of the Villages-relais tourism route and which, I have to say, is a town that is growing and where young families want to live. The term “innovative” applies to Saint-Hyacinthe. Its Cité de la biotechnologie agroalimentaire, vétérinaire et agroenvironnementale was deemed the top emerging technology park in the world. And how about “lively”? There is no time to be bored in Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot with the Show de la rentrée Desjardins in Acton Vale, the Expo de Saint-Hyacinthe, the Festival de musique traditionnelle in St-Bernard-de-Michaudville, the Festival de l'accordéon et du folklore québécois in Saint-Marcel, the Festival du porc in Saint-Nazaire and the Festival du maïs in Saint-Damase.
Dear constituents, I cannot thank you enough for having me serve as the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for the past four years. As I already said, I worked for you and with you. Thank you for your trust. You can be sure of one thing: I put my heart and soul into my work and I was always mindful of my values. It was a great privilege to serve you.
I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous work done by the people of the Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot Federal NDP Riding Association. They are among the builders that our country needs so much. It is thanks to people like them that the NDP continues to grow in Quebec.
I would also like to talk about someone very important, Brigitte Sansoucy, whom I have had the privilege of knowing for many years. Brigitte, I am especially excited that you are going to be an NDP candidate in the next election. You have my full support, and I would be honoured to see you as a member of the first NDP government in Canada's history. I wish you the best of luck.
I want to conclude with one very important point. As members of Parliament, we sometimes make work the most important part of our lives, even at the risk of neglecting other areas. I became quite ill during my mandate, and I managed to get through it thanks to the love of my partner, my family and my friends. It is important for me to underscore everything they have done.
J-F, thank you for being by my side over the past four years. I am so happy to be sharing my life with you. Mom, thank you for always believing in me and for instilling in me the values that I espoused as an MP. You were never far from my thoughts. Michel, thank you for taking care of my mother during my many absences, and above all, thank you for making me feel like part of your family. Dad, thank you for all the wonderful discussions we shared, and thank you for teaching me to walk with my head held high, in spite of everything.
To my in-laws, thank you for accepting me and always making me feel at home. Hélène and Gilbert, my second parents, thank you for being in my life for so long and always being there for me. Seb and Alex, I love you like brothers. Thank you for always accepting me as I am. Sarah, Jacinthe and Marie-Claude, thank you for always treating my like a friend, and not like an MP. Thanks, also, for your sweet and silly side, one of the things I love most about our friendship.
As we can see, MPs are never alone. If not, it would be impossible for them to do their job. I was lucky to have a lot of support during my time here, and I still have a lot of support as I leave my position with no regrets and with peace of mind. I have a lot of plans, but the first thing I want to do is to take care of the people that took care of me over the past four years. They certainly deserve it.
Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot May 27th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today for my last member's statement.
Having chosen not to seek re-election, I want to personally thank each and every person that I served with during my mandate. I want to thank my extraordinary team who is always there for me through thick and thin, and my House colleagues, whose work is not without its challenges. I also want to thank the House of Commons staff because, after all, what would we do without them?
Obviously I am thankful to the people of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. For the past four years, I have worked for them and especially with them. They allowed me to work on a host of issues, each more interesting than the next. It was an honour to represent them. Thank you for believing in me.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the extraordinary support of my husband, my family, my parents and my friends. They stayed by my side throughout this incredible journey and I will be forever grateful for that. Thank you for contributing to my role as the member of Parliament for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot during these four wonderful years.
Petitions May 11th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour to table a petition signed by hundreds of Canadians supporting the abolition of a tax on feminine hygiene products, which quite frankly is rather sexist.
As one of my colleagues said earlier, these are essential products for half the population. I am pleased to table a petition addressing this issue.
Saint-Hyacinthe Book Fair February 24th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, in a few weeks the Galeries de Saint-Hyacinthe will host the seventh Foire du livre de Saint-Hyacinthe.
With events geared to day care facilities and early childhood education centres, schools, and the general public and adults, the book fair will have something for everyone. The Foire du livre de Saint-Hyacinthe will put on free lectures, literary talks, free shows and meet-the-author events.
This year, there is something new: the Desjardins writing contest. Elementary school students will design a comic strip and secondary school students will submit poetry. Students in the Maskoutains and Acton RCMs will be invited to show off their creativity.
Two spokespersons have been invited to represent each category. Alex A., the cartoonist behind the well-known comic book series L'Agent Jean, which is very popular with children between the ages of 8 and 12, will be involved with the elementary school contest. Fredrick D'Anterny, author of young adult books such as Les messagers de Gaïa and Les 7 cristaux de Shamballa, will be involved with the secondary school contest.
It is never too early or too late to instill a love of literature and reading in children. That is why I tip my hat to the organizers of the Foire du livre de Saint-Hyacinthe, who have risen to the challenge with enthusiasm and creativity.
International Trade February 4th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his response.
Regarding supply management, it is not true that the official opposition, the NDP, only brings it up when it is politically advantageous. Supply management is part of our values, and we have always defended this system.
Also, my colleague said that Quebec producers are not saying the same thing as producers in the rest of Canada. That is not the reality.
As a member representing a riding in Quebec, I definitely plan to discuss this further with producers in Quebec. However, there is a consensus among Canada's dairy producers.
What I want to point out to the government is that producers are worried, and we need a concrete commitment concerning this agreement in order to ensure that our producers are not disadvantaged.
International Trade February 4th, 2015
Mr. Speaker, in December 2014, I outlined for the government the concerns that milk and cheese producers have about the impact of the Canada-Europe free trade agreement.
Although Quebec producers have developed some very high-quality fine cheeses, many producers are afraid that the arrival of several tonnes of European cheeses will weaken our young industry.
Just yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Quebec's milk producers. This agreement could have major consequences for the industry. Quebec's milk producers say that the concession given to the European Union could mean that 180 million litres of milk will not be produced or processed here. This could translate into $150 million a year in lost revenue for producers.
In the past 20 years, these producers have invested more than $100 million to develop the market. It would be quite unfortunate if these investments were in vain. It is important to add that the negative impact of this concession would be felt by Quebec in particular, as it produces more than 50% of Canada's cheese and more than 60% of its fine cheese.
Milk producers have been clear about what they want from the Government of Canada. Among other things, they want the government to invest the promised compensation in promotional measures for cheesemakers and producers, impose the same production and processing requirements on imported products, and apply the new quotas for imported cheese using a management method that will benefit the producers and cheesemakers concerned by investing a portion of the profits to promote cheese and develop new markets.
The member for Berthier—Maskinongé, who is the deputy agriculture critic, moved a motion in the House to have milk and cheese producers compensated for the potential value of their losses caused by the agreement. This motion was adopted and the Conservatives have since promised to compensate producers.
However, no compensation plan has yet materialized. I will read part of the motion because I believe it is important to discuss it:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should respect its promise to dairy and cheese producers of Quebec and Canada who will be affected by the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, by: (a) revealing details without delay related to the compensation that will be paid; (b) providing for an implementation period for the agreement that is as long as possible; (c) putting an end to the circumvention of tariff quotas and the misclassification of products at the border; (d) maintaining high quality standards by imposing the same production and processing requirements on imported products; and (e) committing to provide support for commercialization.
However, since June 2014, no tangible measures have been proposed, and the minister even mentioned in committee that no plan will be made for compensation until producers suffer losses. No losses, no compensation. Dairy farmers are concerned that they do not know how the compensation system will work. What form will it take? How will losses be assessed?
It is important to understand that these measures are being sought to ensure the sustainability of the industry, which generates a significant number of direct and indirect jobs. Will the Conservatives keep their promise and provide cheese producers with proper compensation?
Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act December 11th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, in this case, clearly, the public was consulted but not listened to. It is a government’s duty to put the well-being of local communities and their residents ahead of industry. There is no doubt that some industries have to locate in a given area because of the jobs, and I understand that very well.
However, it is a different matter when the public is deciding on the surface area of a park. The people were very clear when they told the government that this was the area they wanted. The government chose the smallest area to benefit the mining industries. That is a big problem. The community was simply ignored and was consulted just to make things look good.
Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act December 11th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, we actually have a big problem with respect to the potential of these parks where, as my colleague was saying, we can learn a great deal about our fauna, our flora and our country.
This is an incredible treasure for Canada. We have landscapes that are literally breathtaking. It would be so sad if, because of budget cuts and a lack of funds, these resources and sites were neglected and not conserved. That would be absolutely unacceptable.
We should also stop hiding behind the need to balance the budget. A healthy environment and a protected ecosystem are beyond price. We are talking about future generations. That is particularly unacceptable.
Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act December 11th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Surrey North.
Since this is my last speech in the House in 2014, I would like to wish all of the employees of the House a happy holiday. I will not name them all, because I am afraid I would forget some. I wish the same to my colleagues, certainly, and of course to the people of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
It is my pleasure today to speak to the bill to amend the Canada National Parks Act. More specifically, it concerns the Nááts'ihch'oh national park reserve of Canada. Please excuse my pronunciation, since I do not speak that language fluently. The park is located in the northern one-sixth of the South Nahanni River watershed in the Northwest Territories.
Obviously, as all my colleagues who have spoken today have said, the NDP supports the creation of this national park. Of course, we are never opposed to initiatives like this, since we are concerned about the preservation of local plants and wildlife.
However, in spite of the fact that the vast majority of the public wanted a bigger park, the Conservative government has chosen to give in to the demands of the mining industry by excluding areas that are essential to the survival of wildlife from the park and allowing mining in those areas. In my opinion, this is truly appalling. The Conservatives have completely failed to listen to the communities and have no regard for the needs of the people who live there. However, we are starting to become accustomed to this kind of practice on the part of the government.
The aboriginal peoples in this region have long recommended, in discussions about land use, that the area proposed for the national park reserve be preserved. That concern about preservation is also consistent with the Government of Canada's commitment to protect the ecosystem in the greater Nahanni region and preserve the ecological integrity of the area. If the government does not act to preserve these fragile ecosystems, who will? I do not know.
Consultations showed that the public overwhelmingly supported the creation of a larger park, as I said earlier, but the Conservatives basically disregarded public opinion and decided to protect the smallest of the three possible areas, failing to include some very important wildlife reserves. It goes without saying, but it seems to have to be said anyway: Canada has a particular wealth of plant life and wildlife. As we approach the year 2015, we cannot allow ourselves to endanger plant and animal species. That is what happens when we neglect such important things.
In opting for the smallest area, the Conservatives listened to the mining companies and simply turned a deaf ear to local residents, who know their region and their land and the species they share it with. It is particularly appalling that their opinion was so completely ignored. Yes, they were consulted, but they were not listened to. That is pure negligence.
We support the creation of the park, but we question the government’s motives. We are afraid that the land area of the park will not be sufficient, particularly because areas that are essential to caribou breeding and the water sources for the Nahanni River will not be protected.
I would also like to add that there is no sense in creating a national park without the funding that is needed to maintain it. On that point, the Toronto Star reported in December that Parks Canada had a backlog of nearly $3 billion in deferred work. That is a rather substantial sum.
We are talking about the environment, fragile ecosystems, plant life and wildlife. That $3 billion should have been invested appropriately. There should even be more money invested in these kinds of things.
In its November 2013 departmental performance, Parks Canada noted that aging infrastructure and inadequate funding and maintenance were a high risk for the agency. Here again, as I said earlier, this is a matter of negligence.
The Parks Canada departmental performance report also said that over $17 million allocated to heritage resource conservation and $22 million intended for townsite and throughway infrastructure was not spent in 2012-13. I consider that to be serious.
According to the Commissioner of the Environment, there is a wide and persistent gap between what the government commits to doing and what it is achieving. Is the government going to honour its commitments? Here again, we do not know. Even for the smallest area, will the commitments be honoured? We still do not know. We are in the dark.
The budget cuts have had serious consequences, including the loss of 33% of the scientific staff complement. Sixty out of 179 positions have been eliminated. Those positions were genuinely essential. We know that the government does not like scientists very much and we can see that here in these results. The figures are rather glaring.
It is disturbing to see the pattern of broken promises the commissioner notes, such as the commitments to change course and ensure protection that never materialized. Will this commitment materialize? Is there going to be any follow-up? Will this park be left by the wayside? I would very much like to know.
If we add to this the money allocated for park infrastructure in the 2013-14 budget, the picture is even bleaker. In that budget, $391 million was allocated over five years for repairing buildings, roads and dams that are falling apart. That amount is not enough to catch up, but it gets worse. The funds that the government plans to invest in the short term are completely ridiculous. In 2014, it plans to invest $1 million. I spoke earlier about a backlog of $3 billion, but here they are talking about an investment of $1 million. In 2015, they plan to invest $4 million, and after the election, $386 million. That is bizarre. I will say no more on that count. I will let people think about it all.
To conclude, yes, we support these kinds of initiatives, because we are concerned about protecting the environment. Obviously, we cannot be opposed to something positive. It is crucial, however, that local populations be consulted. The government cannot just hold consultations for fun and to be able to say they were held; the people have to be listened to. The communities’ welfare and wishes should come before the welfare and wishes of big corporations, as well.
The government also has to inject the needed funds into maintaining these parks. As a final point, we must not do things in half measures when it comes to protecting the environment. Future generations will thank us.
International Trade December 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, many cheese producers in my region are worried about what free trade between Canada and Europe might lead to. Although they have developed some fine, high-quality cheeses, many are afraid that the arrival of several tonnes of subsidized European cheese will undermine our fledgling industry.
Quebec cheese makers have proposed countervailing measures to ensure the sustainability of the industry. Will the Conservatives examine that proposal and compensate cheese makers appropriately?