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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was budget.

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

Homelessness Awareness Night October 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, October 21, the 22nd homelessness awareness night will take place in 25 Quebec cities. The theme is poverty. This event raises awareness of the fact that, every night, whether it is 20oC or -20oC, people sleep in the streets and sometimes die of hunger and cold.

One in every six Quebeckers believes that he or she could become homeless. This event is an outdoor vigil for solidarity where street people and ordinary citizens spend some time together enjoying various activities and entertainment. I commend the initiative of the agencies that organize this event and that struggle every year to make ends meet and to help the disadvantaged, even though they receive inadequate funding.

I am taking this opportunity to share my dream with you. I hope that one day we will no longer hold such events because there will be no more homeless people.

Join us on October 21, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., to put an end to isolation and indifference, fight prejudice against homeless people and eliminate a problem that can happen to anyone.

Housing September 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in 1985, the United Nations General Assembly declared the first Monday of October every year World Habitat Day.

As our housing critic, I particularly wanted to mark this day, which will be on Monday, October 3, this year.

The right to housing is recognized by the UN as a basic human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The right to housing also appears in most constitutions around the world, which recognize every individual's right to decent, safe and affordable housing.

I would therefore like to draw the House's attention to the exceptional work being done by non-profit organizations dedicated to protecting tenants' rights.

In closing, I would like to point out to the government that their demands are not unreasonable; they simply want the government to maintain the current number of affordable housing units and build new units so that all Canadian families can have access to affordable, adequate and safe housing.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, once again, I thank my colleague for the question.

As I was saying, my aim was not to insult members of the government party or anyone else. I merely wanted to present the facts, as these are the facts. I do not believe that we can jeopardize the rights of refugees in the name of security. As I was saying as well, this bill will in no way prevent human trafficking, and thus does not provide a solution to that problem. The solution is to enforce the existing law on human trafficking. That is the solution we need here.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Some refugees who arrive by boat already need someone to lend a hand, they need help, and they need to see the light at the end of the tunnel. These people will arrive here and be detained, even the children.

It is very traumatic psychologically for a child to be detained for no real reason upon his arrival. I also believe that refugees who arrive here will not be guilty of any crimes. They will not have done any human trafficking or anything wrong. They are certainly not smugglers. They will arrive here looking for help and hoping for a second chance, but they will not get it. I believe they will want to go elsewhere, and with just cause.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I was asked to speak this morning regarding Bill C-4, which would prevent human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system. I am pleased to rise this morning to say how much I strongly oppose this bill.

I will start by saying that this bill makes it even more clear that we have a repressive, backwards and irresponsible government that is severely lacking in humanity. I must say that this is not very surprising to me, as this bill is simply one more example, among many others. Once again, the government wants to make a disadvantaged segment of the population suffer, for unknown reasons, instead of lending these people a hand at a time when they need it most.

I am strongly opposed to this bill because every day, in my riding, refugees and immigrants come to us for help. They ask for only one thing: to live in this country with dignity; to have a second chance. With this bill, they will not get that second chance. This bill authorizes an officer or the minister to refuse to consider applications for permanent residence. How can we grant this power to an individual when the applicant may be in danger? What criteria will the officer or the minister use? Will they refuse applications based on how they are feeling that day? This bill would give them the power to do so.

I do not think that the government understands that being in power means making decisions for the well-being of the entire population, by consulting the people and listening to their needs and by avoiding randomly and unfairly punishing people who are simply seeking refuge. Being in power does not mean authorizing oneself to single-handedly make a decision that could have a huge impact on the lives of several people or even several families. This bill would require some individuals to report to an immigration officer and to respond to all of his questions for no real reason. That is discrimination, pure and simple.

How can we convince people to establish themselves here if we treat them as detainees as soon as they arrive, without knowing the full story, and without even knowing why they chose Canada? Under this bill, claimants, including children, will automatically be detained when they arrive or at the moment they are designated. How can the government violate international rules that were created for the well-being of all communities? This would leave the door open for indefinite or arbitrary detentions. Where are we headed? Where is our country headed? It is a great place to live, a place where immigrants are welcome and where we extend a helping hand to refugees so that they can see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

Under this bill, a designated person cannot apply for permanent residency for five years. Five years. Then, if the person breaches any of the conditions imposed, this period can be extended by five or six years. A person could wait more than five years to see their family members who remained overseas. In addition, designated persons are prohibited from leaving the country until they receive permanent resident status. Not only are they kept from bringing their families to Canada, but they are also prohibited from going to visit them. What has happened to the family values that we have always defended here? Can someone tell me? Does the government have this little respect for the family unit, the first community where a human being grows and flourishes? The minister must not know what it is like to be separated from loved ones for five years; otherwise, he would not be trying to impose such rules.

This bill would punish refugees or those trying to help them instead of punishing the criminals—the smugglers and traffickers. This proposed refugee process is arbitrary and completely discriminatory.

A few months ago, Parliament passed balanced legislation concerning refugees. It would make a lot more sense to simply enforce that legislation better, instead of treating these people like criminals, when they simply need a helping hand. Furthermore, in Australia, similar laws met with opposition from Amnesty International, which started a campaign to condemn the misinformation surrounding refugees who arrive by boat. This government is alienating the international community and severely damaging our reputation. We have a responsibility towards refugees. We do not have the right to treat them this way.

We in the NDP recognize this responsibility, unlike the Conservatives, who want to evade it. This approach flies in the face of our country's commitments under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is not the right legislation to put an end to human trafficking.

Do we want to be recognized as the country where refugees are discriminated against? Where no one wants to go and settle for fear of being detained and treated like a criminal? Where people, if they choose to live here, risk having to go without seeing their loved ones for over five years?

We are losing our values of openness, tolerance, giving, social justice and equality. Many groups strongly oppose this bill. The Canadian Council for Refugees completely rejects this bill. Amnesty International Canada said the bill would lead to serious violations of the rights of refugees. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says these measures are simply not necessary. Why would we apply measures that are not necessary? The Canadian Bar Association says that this bill violates Canada's international obligations regarding the treatment of persons seeking protection. As I was saying earlier, we have a responsibility to refugees and the government is refusing to treat refugees fairly.

A group of experts from the Centre for Refugee Studies has described this bill as draconian. I think these groups know what they are talking about. Earlier I was saying that we need to listen to the concerns of the people. Here we have flagrant examples of a government doing exactly the opposite. This bill could violate a number of legal provisions, including those pertaining to equality before the law and arbitrary detention. Bill C-4 is contrary to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

As I was saying earlier, we are tarnishing our international reputation and that is serious.

I will say again: I am strongly opposed to this bill because we have a responsibility to refugees. The government does not have all the rights. No. It would be a serious mistake to ignore these responsibilities in the name of security, especially when we consider that this bill will not in any way—not in any way—stop human trafficking.

I welcome any questions my colleagues might have.

Housing September 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, since 2006, the number of affordable housing units has dropped by 17,000. People with access to adequate, affordable and safe housing are far less likely to end up on the street, develop addiction problems or commit crimes. It is called prevention; however, the Conservatives prefer repression.

Rather than imposing additional costs for prisons on the provinces, why does the government not support them by investing in new social housing units?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for some respect from my colleagues.

All I have to say to the hon. member's question is that we, the NDP, are asking for nothing but an end to this dispute. We want people to get their mail and workers to get back to work with decent conditions. The government simply has to unlock the doors.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

First, I, too, would like to express my condolences to the soldier's family. Because of the Conservative government, the troops are still in Afghanistan.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

Yes, I have read the bill, as have all my colleagues. To suggest that we do not read our documents is almost an insult.

The hon. member for Mississauga East—Cooksville mentioned just now that he was shocked. I too am shocked by this government's desire to privatize everything and trample on people's rights, and by its refusal to listen to what Canadians genuinely need.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start my second speech by sharing with members of the House, the constituents of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, all Quebeckers and Canadians my firm intention to continue this fight beside the NDP members who have shown me, day after day, how amazing they are.

We have been gathered here for many hours to defend rights that are fundamental, in my view: the workers' right to speak, the right to dignity, the right to negotiate with an employer in good faith and, above all, the right to be heard.

What the government has been proposing is not a balanced agreement, but an imposed contract. You are putting a gun to the employees' heads and, in so doing, all Canadians—and I mean every single Canadian—are being held hostage because of this lockout. Small businesses and the public are worried about not getting their mail, and rightly so. I understand their concerns. All the government has to do is to remove the locks and let the two parties negotiate properly. It is important to recall that mail was being delivered during the strike. The union was ready to negotiate, while continuing to provide postal services, which are essential.

The government is sending a very negative message to the unions: there is no point in fighting because we will get what we want from you anyway. With this message, the government is literally trampling on the history of our country, the history of these people who fought tooth and nail during the industrial revolution and significantly improved the lives of everyone: my grandparents, my parents, the people of my generation and future generations. I do not have any children, but I am still fighting for them, for all these children, all these young people, all these young adults. I am fighting for the next generation.

What message is the government sending to them right now? Be rich, own a multinational corporation, be the CEO of a big oil company or a bank; otherwise, the government will not do anything for you because you do not matter to it. Once again, we are creating a gap between the generations, between younger and older workers. It is as if we are telling young people that we do not need them, that we prefer to pay them less because their work is not as valuable as the work of their counterparts.

This is also a struggle against social inequalities because the middle class is once more paying for the government's ideologies. I know that they are probably going to call me a nasty socialist, a nasty unionist, a left-winger, but that does not bother me. What is important to me is the rights of the workers, of all workers.

I have always understood, but now I understand even better why the word “progressive” is no longer next to the word “Conservative”. This word is the extreme opposite of the government's ideologies. The government is not working for a better society. It is working to set society back. It is working to undo the improvements that have been made to the living conditions of all Canadians.

We are talking here about workers' rights, but this is not the first time that the government has wanted to implement policies that jeopardize the rights acquired by Canadians. Let us remember when it wanted to reject the Kyoto accord and deprive future generations of a healthy environment. Let us also remember when it wanted to refuse to sign the agreement on aboriginal rights, jeopardizing the rights of first nations children to have access to a quality education, like all other Canadians.

Let us remember all the proposals to improve employment insurance that the government rejected for no good reason, preventing unemployed workers from living with dignity. Let us remember when abortion rights were threatened, leading Canadians to fear that we would return to the dark days when some women bled to death after trying to carry out their own abortions with knitting needles. Let us remember when the government cut taxes for large corporations, again making the middle class and organizations pay by cutting programs essential to the healthy development of our country.

This crisis is a calculated crisis brought about by the government itself. And the government wants to put the blame for this crisis on us—us, the official opposition that works with, and especially for, the people.

The government has a hidden agenda. This is the first offensive, but the war that the government has declared on the middle and working classes has just begun. Let us make no mistake, the government regards workers, and thereby Canadians, with contempt. It is shameful to see how little the government cares for people, not just Canada Post employees, but also the waiter at the neighbourhood restaurant, who at times has to count on the generosity of his customers in order to pay his rent, the shoe store assistant who has to sell a lot of shoes in order to afford a pair for herself, the carpenter who builds houses for us with the sweat of his brow in all kinds of weather, the chef who stands over his stoves even in the oppressive heat of mid-July, and the clerk at the corner store who spends all night on her feet at her cash register and still has to keep a smile on her face.

With this attack on Canada Post workers, the government is attacking all workers, each and every one of them. It is attacking their legitimate right to negotiate improvements to their working conditions. It is attacking their right to a decent standard of living. It is attacking their right to live in dignity. It is also attacking their families' standard of living.

The government will find that it has the New Democrats to deal with. To show how serious my message is, how deeply in my soul it is rooted, I will end my speech in the same way as I ended my previous one.

We will fight for a fair and just country where no one—and I mean no one—is abandoned and cast aside.