House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Hochelaga (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act October 27th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I have three stories to tell you today, but I will warn you, they are not very happy stories.

The first story took place on December 6, 1989, in Montreal. At 4 p.m., a young man, 25-year-old Marc Lépine, arrived at the École Polytechnique, which is part of the Université de Montréal. He walked around the school for about an hour. People saw him all over, in offices and so on. At about 5:10, a little more than an hour later, he went into a mechanical engineering class where there were about 60 people. He then took out a .22 calibre semi-automatic rifle and told the women that because they wanted to become engineers, they were feminists, and he hated feminists. He then told the men to go to one side and the women to the other. People thought it was a joke, so they did not do it. That was when he fired a shot in the air. People started to take him seriously then, so the men lined up on one side and the women on the other. He then told the men to leave the classroom. So the men did. And what happened next was that he fired on the nine women who stayed in the classroom. Six of them died.

It went on like that for 20 minutes. Twenty minutes can be a very long time in circumstances like that. He continued to walk around the school, shooting at women and men, because the men were helping some of the women. In all, 14 women died, and 10 women and four men were injured—men who were helping the women, of course. Most of these people were in their early twenties. They were university students, and there was also a female university employee.

Marc Lépine killed himself. So that makes 15 deaths. After talking to the journalists outside, Pierre Leclair, who was the public relations director for the Montreal police, went into the building and, sadly, found the body of his own daughter, Maryse Leclair, one of the students who died that day. She had been killed by a firearm, and also stabbed, even though she had begged the murderer not to do it.

Obviously the police investigated, and during the investigation a letter written by the murderer was found. In the letter, the murderer repeated that he hated feminists, and there was even a list of 19 feminist women he said he wanted to kill. They included a journalist, a television personality, a politician and six police officers.

The consequences of Mr. Lépine's act do not stop there. After that event, several students at the École Polytechnique committed suicide, and at least two of them left letters saying it was the anguish caused by the killings at the Polytechnique, the Montreal massacre, that prompted them to kill themselves. So the connection here is obvious. There is no doubt about the connection. That is my first story.

My second story took place on September 13, 2006. It was 12:42 p.m., and another young man, 25-year-old Kimveer Gill, arrived at Dawson College. So again this is in Montreal. He had with him three firearms, one of which was a semi-automatic. He started shooting outside. Then he went into the cafeteria. Remember that it was 12:42, which is lunchtime, so there were a lot of people in the cafeteria. Twenty-eight minutes later, a young woman, 18-year-old Anastasia De Sousa, was dead.

There were also 16 people injured, including a young man who will have to spend the rest of his life with one bullet in his head and another in his neck, because it is too dangerous to remove them. Kimveer Gill, the murderer also died.

My two sons, Alec and Nicholas, could have been there. They went to that school; they were students at Dawson. Several people that I know were there and could have been victims. I am not talking about a cops and robbers movie. I am talking about my life, and what happened to my friends and me.

I have a third story that is even closer to home. I warned my colleagues that these would not be happy stories. This time it was in my riding, Hochelaga, and a member of my family was involved. It occurred on July 14, 2009, in Montreal, at the Jardins de l'Aubade, an independent and assisted living residence for seniors. Marlena Cardoso was a 33-year-old nurse and the mother of two young children. Everybody describes her as jovial, dedicated and likable. She was well liked and nobody, of course, wished her any harm. She was at work that day and at about 2:30 p.m. had a conversation with Celso Gentili. He was an 84-year-old man in a wheelchair. She thought he looked sick and wanted him to go to the hospital, and she told him so. Mr. Gentili misinterpreted her remarks, became angry and went back to his apartment. The apartments are for people who are losing their mobility or live alone. Nobody had searched his apartment, just as no one searches our apartments when we move in. Once in his apartment, Mr. Gentili retrieved his 12-gauge shotgun and, without warning, shot Ms. Cardoso.

My younger brother, Guy, who had been working there for a few weeks, arrived on the scene and saw Ms. Cardoso on the ground in a pool of blood; there was blood everywhere. The owner's son was trying to overpower Mr. Gentili and disarm him, while Mr. Gentili was attempting to reload his rifle so he could continue to shoot. My younger brother had both hands on Marlena's gaping wound in an attempt to stop the blood and save her life. He was talking to her all the while, telling her to stay with them. He saved her life. I am very proud of him. He was trying to keep her alive, but while he was doing that, he too could have died because Mr. Gentili was attempting to reload his rifle. If no one had stopped him, he could have shot my brother. Once again, it was not a movie; it happened in my riding, to my family.

Marlena Cardoso was fortunate enough to survive in the end. But she and some other employees were so traumatized that two and a half years later they still have not returned to work. My brother is strong, but he still cries today when anyone talks about the incident. Mr. Gentili, the 84-year-old man, is facing seven charges. It is all very sad.

The Conservatives say that the long gun registry targets law-abiding citizens rather than criminals. In the three cases I referred to, none of the people involved were hardened criminals.

The aggressors did not have a criminal record, and the crimes were not committed by criminals. The registry identifies firearm owners and assists in keeping track of the circulation of weapons, which may be sold. Abolishing the registry would therefore make it easier for potentially dangerous people to get a hold of weapons, whether or not they have previously committed a crime. That makes the lives of police officers harder and puts them in harm's way. The Conservatives say that the registry is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Have the Conservatives ever calculated the cost of violence due to long guns? One single investigation—

Citizenship and Immigration October 19th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we know that when they return to Mexico, these two men and their family members will again be subjected to threats, violence and persecution.

Before coming to Canada, they were attacked many times by the authorities that should have been protecting them. Mr. Perez and Mr. Gonzalez have legitimate reasons to fear for their lives if they leave Canada.

What steps is this government taking to ensure that violence against these men and other members of Mexico's homosexual community is taken seriously?

Citizenship and Immigration October 19th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism does not intervene by tomorrow, two young homosexual men, David Perez and Pablo Gonzalez, will be deported to Mexico. The two fear for their safety if they return to Mexico, but the Canada Border Services Agency has refused to delay their removal pending an appeal on humanitarian grounds.

Will the minister intervene and stop this forced removal until the appeal is heard?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is so proud of its budget. But according to the chief economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns, Sherry Cooper, the misplaced belief that the road to economic prosperity is paved by near-term fiscal tightening, as espoused by our own Prime Minister and British Prime Minister David Cameron last week, shows we have learned nothing from Herbert Hoover's response to the Great Depression.

Does my colleague not realize that it is dangerous for the Canadian economy to go ahead with the planned cuts?

Pension October 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that in the last quarter stocks fell 12%. Private pension funds were hit extremely hard. We know that pooled registered pension plans do nothing to protect Canadians when the stock market plummets.

We need a stronger public pension plan. Canadians and provincial leaders across the country are demanding basic retirement security. The Canada pension plan can provide this by generating larger and more stable investment returns.

Will the government stop gambling with the future of Canadians and strengthen CPP?

Business of Supply October 4th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, if the mental health of first nations is so important to the Conservative government, why was nearly $500,000 cut from the Wapikoni project, which helps youth who are often at risk of committing suicide? Mental health is a very important aspect of this project. Why was funding slashed?

Wapikoni Mobile September 19th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about Wapikoni Mobile, a project involving two travelling studios that have visited over a dozen first nations villages every year for the past seven years.

To date, 2,000 young people have learned to create and produce movies and music and develop basic skills, life skills and even survival skills.

This program is for marginalized youth who are not reachable in the more traditional ways: youth at risk for dropping out of school, addiction or suicide.

Wapikoni Mobile restores their confidence and their appetite for learning and helps them prepare to enter the workforce.

The proof is in the pudding: the project creates local jobs and has won 44 Canadian and international awards. What is more, these contemporary works help break down stereotypes and promote aboriginal culture across the country and throughout the world.

Long live Wapikoni, in spite of the recent unexpected cuts to the program.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

I just heard that. It is very surprising. It is quite shocking, especially since I cannot be in my riding, through which the Montreal Saint-Jean-Baptiste parade will pass today. I find it very, very unfortunate.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Postal workers have already said that if the employer ends the lockout, they will immediately go back to work. So that would be the solution. It is always the same answer to the same questions.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I already said it and I will say it again. When the rotating strikes were going on, some mail was being distributed. Despite being involved in rotating strikes and considering other action, postal workers were still prepared to deliver cheques to pensioners and to social assistance recipients.

Now, because of the lockout, there is no mail at all. Therefore, I would tell people living in the north to ask the government to put an end to the lockout, as I just said. That is very simple.