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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

Victims Bill of Rights June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the committee will hear primarily from legal experts. It would be informative to also hear from victims, if they are up to it, of course. That may not be the case, which is perfectly understandable. However, we could hear from psychologists, social workers or people working on the ground who are familiar with what victims go through. It would be interesting.

Victims Bill of Rights June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to sincerely thank my colleague for her questions.

In my opinion, during consultations, people often forget to consider the psychological impact on those who have had experiences that are often incredibly difficult. As I said earlier, I have never been a victim of crime and therefore I am not really in a position to say more.

That said, it is important to consult these people when the opportunity arises. Not only must we listen to them, but we must also hear what they are saying. We have to really consider what they have to say and what they have experienced.

Victims Bill of Rights June 20th, 2014

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

My biggest concern about this bill is that the measures on paper will not materialize. That is often what the government ends up doing.

Does the government want to draft a bill, print it and put it on a shelf and then, in 2015, say there is a victims bill of rights and target vulnerable people in that way? I do not know whether that is the intention. If so, I find that especially underhanded. I want this bill to be put into action. I think it is important that this bill be truly implemented.

Victims Bill of Rights June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues for their customary support. Today, I am pleased to be speaking to An Act to enact the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and to amend certain Acts.

I should point out that we will be supporting this bill at second reading. That said, we are not giving the government a blank cheque, that is for sure. We are supporting this bill so that it can be studied properly in committee and so that we can hear from experts, witnesses and perhaps even victims. We want to amend this less-than-perfect bill. We will support it so that we can work together to improve the situation.

We clearly want to provide victims of crime with tangible support. However, for that to happen, we need to be sure that this bill of rights is not just empty rhetoric. I personally have never been a victim of crime, but I can put myself in a victim's shoes. I know it would not be fun.

A responsible government that promises such measures to victims of crime—people who have gone through difficult experiences—should implement those measures properly, by listening to experts. People on the front lines also need to be able to implement them.

I should also point out that we have been waiting for the government to do something about this for eight years. I say “we”, but of course I mean that victims, too, have been waiting for the government to do something. The government promised in 2006 to give us this bill of rights. Why did victims have to wait eight years? For that whole time, they have not had these tools, they have not had any help coping. It is appalling that they were made to wait so long.

Ministers held press conferences and photo ops and promised all kinds of things, but they never actually did anything. Now we have something, but as I said earlier, we really have to make sure that this is not just pie in the sky and that it will really be done. In the meantime, victims are still waiting. The government cannot keep human beings waiting so long when these are such serious and sensitive issues.

Another problem with this bill is that it creates no legal obligation for people working in the justice system to implement the rights that are being given to victims. The government is setting up a system, but it is not making sure that anything will really happen and has told us nothing about how it is supposed to happen. Will this law just gather dust while they talk about how we have a bill of rights? That is what I am afraid of. I wonder about that.

Does the government really care about victims, or did it just introduce this bill to look good? We will find out what the government's real intentions are when we look at this bill in committee. Will the government not just hear from experts but really listen to them? Will it take all of this into consideration? I will give the government the benefit of the doubt, but I sure am looking forward to finding out what it is going to do with all this.

I would like to talk about some of the highlights of Bill C-32. First, it broadens the definition of “victim” to include individuals who have suffered property damage, physical or emotional harm or economic loss. It also clarifies the fact that the spouse of a victim can testify if the victim is dead or incapable of acting on their own behalf if the conjugal relationship has lasted for at least one year, of course.

It is still a good improvement and it is important that it be implemented.

The bill also changes the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to permit victims to see a photograph of the offender at the time of his release, because his appearance may have changed, for example.

It can be difficult for victims to know that their attacker is free to walk the streets when they do not know what he looks like or where he has ended up. The bill also allows victims to obtain information about the offender, his progress in relation to his correctional plan, and his release date and conditions of release.

In my opinion, victims have a right to this information, and this really must be implemented and enforced.

The bill also makes this interesting improvement:

The enactment amends the Canada Evidence Act to provide that no person is incompetent, or uncompellable, to testify for the prosecution by reason only that they are married to the accused.

Bill C-32 also creates a mechanism that allows victims to file a complaint with federal and provincial departments if they feel that their charter rights were violated. Here again, we see that there is no legal obligation for stakeholders to put all this in place. Will this really be done and will victims really be able to file complaints with departments without having to fill out a ton of paperwork and take serious legal action?

We know that victims of crime are sometimes vulnerable and have difficulty coping with the situation. Will the government really help these people to do what needs to be done? I look forward to seeing that happen.

Finally, the bill also codifies the right to make a restitution order and specifies that the victim surcharge must be paid within the reasonable time established by the lieutenant governor of the province in which it is imposed.

I would like the government to specify what constitutes a “reasonable time”. I know it is a small detail. However, it is not a small thing for victims because a reasonable period of time could be two years, five years or even six months. I think it is important for victims to have that information.

In any case, we can hardly say no to this bill. We support it because victims need a bill of rights to protect them. However, we question some aspects of the bill. The necessary resources for implementing these measures have not been included in the bill, and I want to see those. I want to see how the government is going to implement this bill, who is going to work on it and how. That is what we need to see in this bill.

We are going to hear from experts in committee, and I truly hope that the government will consider what they have to say because, unlike us, they work in the field. We will see whether the government is open to real consultation or whether it plans on imposing a bill unilaterally and without consultation, just to look good. We will also see whether this bill really meets the needs identified by experts and victims.

I will gladly answer any questions.

Combating Counterfeit Products Act June 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question that I believe is very relevant.

I absolutely share his concerns on this. I am wondering where we are going with this kind of ideology. We were talking about arenas and gazebos in some committees where it related to votes from certain people. I find it particularly appalling. In whose interest is this being done? Our constituents are the ones being penalized. These are people who have been on the job for a long time, competent people, who will lose their jobs. I find that particularly worrisome.

2015 cannot come soon enough.

Combating Counterfeit Products Act June 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very relevant question.

I must admit that I am rather confused by the way this government is working. I do not really understand how it intends to achieve its goals while cutting funding, eliminating positions and preventing competent people from doing their job. It is particularly appalling. The government should work on this problem.

I understand perfectly that choices must be made. However, there are necessities in a budget, and when something is added, more funding is needed. The government wants the Canada Border Services Agency to do more but it is eliminating 549 jobs. That does not really make sense. We have no choice but to find a solution.

Combating Counterfeit Products Act June 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their incredible support. It really is an honour to be part of the NDP.

We support this bill, but I am pleased that a gag order has not been imposed and that we now have the opportunity to express our opinions. Since the beginning of this Parliament, 76 gag orders have been imposed. That makes 76 bills that we have not been able to debate appropriately. That is deplorable. I am therefore pleased that no gag order has been imposed this time, although, at the same time, we are not too sure what is coming.

I also find it deplorable that the party opposite and the third party have not taken part at all in the debates that have been held in the evenings for several weeks. We sit until midnight and we are the only ones rising to speak. I want to take this opportunity to speak out against that situation. I find it particularly galling.

We support Bill C-8, An Act to amend the Copyright Act and the Trade-marks Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, despite its imperfections. However, we still feel justified in questioning certain aspects of it. The government will therefore not be able to say that we are opposed to everything.

Bill C-8 is designed to strengthen the enforcement of copyright and trade-mark rights and to curtail commercial activity involving infringing copies and counterfeit trade-marked goods.

Clearly, we always support companies, consumers, authors and musicians—my colleague was talking about music earlier on—and the whole area of the intellectual property of scientists, for example. There is also considerable mention in this bill of the health and safety of Canadians. I feel that the bill has a lot of merit in this area.

When we talk about counterfeit medication, for example, it can be a serious matter. A person ordering medication online for some kind of problem could choose the wrong product. If the person is allergic to that product, problems arise. That is one of the reasons why we support this kind of measure, which will help to keep Canadians healthy and to protect them.

Bill C-8 creates two new criminal offences under the Copyright Act, prohibiting the possession or export of infringing copies; it also creates offences for selling, or engaging in commercial activity with, counterfeit products.

It also creates a criminal offence prohibiting the importing and exporting of infringing copies and counterfeit goods, while introducing some balance by creating two exemptions, one for personal use, that is, items that a person has in their possession or in their luggage, and another for items in customs transit control.

The bill also gives customs officers new powers to detain counterfeit goods and copies. That is an important policy change, since up until now, border officials required copyright holders to first get a court order before they would seize infringing copies or counterfeit goods.

The bill also gives the Minister of Health and border authorities new powers that allow them to share with rights owners information relating to the detained goods. These are meaningful and significant changes that needed to be made to fight the counterfeiting of all kinds of items that could harm the health and safety of our fellow citizens.

The bill has also expanded the scope of what can be registered as a trademark, as described within the broader definition of “signs”, including colours, shapes, scents and tastes.

What concerns me as I read this bill is the fact that several million dollars have been cut from the Canada Border Services Agency. The bill gives border authorities new powers. But how will everything be appropriately financed? How can they continue to be effective and to do their jobs? We agree that counterfeiting is a scourge and that something must be done about it. We also agree that they have other responsibilities as well. Are they going to be asked to work twice as much? I am not sure how it is all going to work. Are we going to clone them? I do not know. In short, this is something that really must be given particular attention. This is not the only situation where there have been budget cuts and increases in responsibility for the staff of an agency.

Take tax havens, for example. They say they want to fight against tax havens and allocate more resources to doing so. But the Canada Revenue Agency has undergone budget cuts. The same applies to Canada Post and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The number of inspectors has been cut but they are being asked to provide the same level of service. That is particularly worrisome to me. I am curious and I would really like to know how this is all going to be implemented.

Naturally, we support political and legal tools that will combat counterfeiting and copyright violation effectively. Such violations can have a negative impact on Canadian businesses and consumers. As I said earlier, that is especially the case when the health and safety of Canadians are at risk, which often happens when counterfeiting is involved. On the other hand, intellectual property calls for an approach that strikes a balance between the interests of rights holders and the interests of users and consumers. We have to strike a fair balance there too.

We also need better ways to share information about counterfeiting with people. We have to implement measures to ensure that border services agents use their new law enforcement powers appropriately. That also includes better information about the extent of the problem. We have to raise people's awareness about what counterfeiting, intellectual property and copyright are. We have to explain that in terms people can understand. These are things of importance to society that I think have been somewhat neglected over the past few years.

Bill C-8 does not feature the same lack of balance as other copyright bills this government has come up with. It is a good improvement even though it is not perfect. Nothing is perfect, after all.

As I said earlier, we still do not know how the bill will be enforced. We would like the Canada Border Services Agency to have enough resources to carry out this work without interfering with its priorities. Those people have a lot of work to do, and cuts will not help them do more work. If we overload them, it will not work.

It is in the interest of Canadian businesses and consumers to combat counterfeiting, especially, as I said earlier, when counterfeit goods can jeopardize the health and safety of Canadians. To do that, we have to give those involved the tools they need. There has to be money for that. I see no other way. It will not happen if the government puts some relevant provisions in a bill but continues to make cuts.

I would like one of my colleagues opposite to share some thoughts about this. That would be really interesting.

Petitions June 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by hundreds of citizens who are opposed to cuts at Canada Post.

I should also note that hundreds, if not thousands, of people in my riding have contacted me to say that they are concerned about these cuts. The cuts will have serious consequences, particularly for seniors and people with reduced mobility. I am pleased to be presenting this petition.

Respect for Communities Act June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I understand why people who have been in contact with this problem and who have seen the resulting harm would be afraid of seeing such a site open near their home. They are afraid because of a lack of knowledge and understanding.

Politicians and those who work in this field need to raise public awareness about these sites. They need to clearly explain exactly what a safe injection site is and what it is for, as well as the benefits such sites can bring to our communities and to people struggling with addictions.

Respect for Communities Act June 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her very pertinent question.

As I said earlier, this type of site will not be used by just anyone. These sites will not be run in a haphazard way either. When people hear “safe injection site”, right away they think of a place where people will simply go to shoot up. This is not what we are dealing with here.

A safe injection site is a place where there is medical staff, where someone can be treated in an emergency and where people can be referred. If someone comes to the site looking for help and wants to stop using injected drugs, that person will be referred to the right place and given help.

If there are places where people can go to inject drugs safely, it prevents the problem of having used needles and drug-related waste littering our parks. That helps keep our communities and children safe.