House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Vaudreuil—Soulanges (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition today that was circulated by a number of volunteers who work with veterans and their families at Ste. Anne's Hospital. There are roughly 500 petitioners who want to ensure that soldiers who return injured receive better compensation.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, in essence, Bill C-12 would weaken Quebec. The problem is that this bill comes from a government that, over the past few weeks, has shown us that every democratic rule can be broken.

A bill like this one has no place at this time. As Canadians and Quebeckers observe how this government behaves with regard to democracy, we need to very careful about adopting this type of crucial and major change to reduce the demographic weight of Quebeckers here in the House.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, in this House, we vote laws that affect the people in our ridings. I represent citizens of Quebec, citizens of the Quebec nation, and no member will tell us to be silent. We have here a certain percentage that must be representative of the Quebec nation. The member opposite would have us believe that his party's policies are in keeping with representation by population, but there is a danger in that—the danger of failing to recognize the Quebec nation. That is why we will stand in this House to defend the rights and interests of Quebeckers.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his excellent question. In fact, the bill does go against a number of Quebec nation consensuses that were established in the National Assembly. This bill also goes against consensuses in the House of Commons.

In 2006, the Conservatives put forward a motion recognizing the Quebec nation. Unfortunately, to date, no concrete action has been taken to solidify this recognition. That is why it falls to us to use all the time allotted to this debate, to protect the rights of Quebeckers, to ensure that they are fully represented and to defend their political weight here in the House.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I wish the minister had listened to the speech I just made. He commented on the number of seats that Quebec is guaranteed. I agree, but this objective must not be considered on its own, but as part of the whole. There are three objectives and the others seek to decrease the democratic weight of Quebec in the House of Commons and in democratic institutions.

As for percentages, I find it ironic and disconcerting to see a minister joke about democratic weight. The National Assembly was clear and adopted a motion in this regard on April 23, 2010, asking members of the House of Commons to abandon any bill that would result in the reduction of the weight of Quebec's representation in the House of Commons. It is in that context that we accepted amendments proposing a guaranteed threshold, that is, the current weight of Quebec in the House of Commons.

Consequently, if colleagues in the House wish to present such a subamendment to our amendment, we would be prepared to support it.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, the bill attacks certain sections of the Constitution and could leave room for interpretation of some of these sections, including the one I quoted in my speech.

The member opposite is free to defend positions concerning his province. We in the Bloc Québécois will defend the positions of the National Assembly of Quebec, and those of our citizens, in order to guarantee a demographic weight of 25%. That is our position, and it is for that reason that we will be voting to prevent this bill from making it through the House.

Democratic Representation Act March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in this debate, which gives us an opportunity to further reflect on our democratic institutions.

When an opportunity to debate such an issue arises, it is our duty to participate in it. There are several issues that are typically raised, including representation by population, enhancing the electoral process, and access to information.

It should be universally acknowledged that traditional democratic representation is currently in crisis in Canada, Quebec and the entire world. This crisis of representative democracy is specifically embodied in Canada by the completely archaic institution that is the Senate. It is also reflected in this Conservative government’s lack of transparency and its unrelenting attempts to systematically attack the Quebec nation by rejecting any and all proposals to give concrete expression to its recognition.

The bill entitled Democratic Representation Act amends the formula set out in the Constitution that alters the number of seats allocated to each province in the House of Commons following each decennial census. Unfortunately, this bill is one of a long list of bills that aim to drastically modify the system of representation by population in the House of Commons and amounts to a rejection of the heterogeneous system of representation that developed to take into account the successive addition of provinces and territories to the federation. The disproportions are not as great as in the Commons, but every territory and province enjoys some degree of representation, except for the three provinces whose populations are growing.

The Conservative government can legitimately attempt to correct this distortion, but it must guarantee real protection for the provinces whose populations are in decline. What is striking about this bill is the narrowness of the principles it sets out. By focusing too heavily on attaining pure representation by population, the government is at risk of violating paragraph 42(1)a), which enshrines a modified form of proportional representation. The Bloc Québécois is not afraid of the debate on proportional representation. Clearly, the Bloc has no firm position on the issue and would be very much open to considering a variety of proposals. In a sovereign Quebec, we certainly will not have an archaic institution such as the Senate. We will perhaps have a system of proportional representation or a chamber representing the regions; that remains to be determined. This allows me to keep an open mind as I take part in this debate regarding the need to improve all democratic institutions.

When dealing with such a crucial issue, constitutional law experts and court rulings must be consulted. In the opinion of constitutional expert Guy Tremblay, this unremitting and avowed insistence on continuously increasing the number of seats may be unconstitutional. Mr. Tremblay first quotes Campbell v. A.G. Canada in the first instance and refers to notation 4 on page 657, where Justice McEachern repeats the objectives set out by the then president of the Privy Council. First there is the limited ability to increase the number of seats in Parliament; then there is the guarantee that no province will lose any seats; and finally there is the bias in favour of increasing the number of seats for Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, as set out in this bill.

This bill would have the effect, even according to the ministers who advocate it, of disposing of the guarantees that Quebec currently has. Some things the Conservatives said in 2008 and have said several times now in the House are tainted with a certain malevolence toward Quebec. The Conservatives’ position is quite clear because the Minister for Democratic Reform at the time said it would “render the guarantee that Quebec enjoys today meaningless and ineffective”. That is why we are centre stage today in this debate. That is why we want the House to defeat this bill. We will stand up for the rights of the Quebec nation and oppose any weakening of its presence or reduction in its relative political weight.

The Bloc Québécois proposed an amendment to this bill to express its opposition and highlight the particular needs of the only province with a francophone majority. Our National Assembly wants us to abandon any idea of passing a bill that would have the effect of reducing Quebec’s political weight in the House of Commons. With respect to the debate on the redistribution of seats in the House, there is a set and established rule that Quebec’s political weight could not be any less than it currently is.

This stems not only from Quebec’s traditional demands but also from the spirit of the Charlottetown agreement of 1992. At the time, all parties agreed that Quebec’s representation within federal institutions should be about 25%. So that is nothing new.

We are opposed to Bill C-12, which would add 30 seats for the Canadian nation, because the representation of the Quebec nation within federal institutions—essentially the House of Commons—would be less than its current demographic and political weight, something that is totally unacceptable to us.

The second point is to ensure that, regardless of the model that is decided upon, as long as Quebeckers are part of the Canadian political landscape, their political weight within the current institutions, especially the House of Commons—there could be proposals to create a chamber of regions—and any future political institutions will be the same as it is now: we want about 25%. That is not only the spirit but also the letter of the amendment moved by my colleague from Québec, our democratic reform critic. That should be very clear to everyone.

My colleague from Joliette was quite right to remind us of the historical record. It is true that the high and mighty in this world have always distrusted the people. When the House of Commons was created, they wanted a counterweight, like the one in London, of representatives from what was considered the social elite to give some sober second thought to the decisions of the great unwashed, which might be less thoughtful and rational than those of the elite. At the time, the elite consisted of the nobility and the grand bourgeoisie. Now, unfortunately, it is more political organizations, Conservative organizers and friends of the government. That is how it was under the Liberals and how it is under the Conservatives. It is a kind of anti-democratic counterweight to the House, where the democratically elected representatives of the people can be found. It is totally archaic.

At the time, this fear of allowing the common people to make decisions was reflected in large American institutions as well. Tradition dictates that the electoral college votes according to the way the people in the various states have chosen their presidential electors. If, in the state of Massachusetts, for example, the majority of voters decide that the Democratic candidate should become president, then the presidential electors of that state will not vote against the choice of the people of their state. However, there have been times when the presidential electors did not agree to vote for the candidate that had received the most support. That system was put in place after the American revolution, with the independence of the United States. It created a sort of second class. After the popular vote, there were these presidential electors who chose the president. This goes back to a time when the emerging democracy frightened the ruling elite.

The Canadian Senate is a legacy of that; it is a counterbalance. A few weeks ago, the Senate still agreed to the decisions made by the House of Commons. Now, the Conservative-controlled Senate has decided to block bills adopted in the House by the majority of the members elected by the people. This is totally unacceptable. This only further proves the importance of getting rid of this archaic institution.

We have been in favour of abolishing the Senate for a very long time. However, let us not forget that the Senate is part of a constitutional agreement. We can certainly hold a consultative referendum on abolishing the Senate—and I hope the yes side wins—but there will have to be constitutional negotiations with Quebec and the provinces to determine how the Senate will be abolished and what will replace it.

The second element, a proportional voting system, or some of its aspects, will also require constitutional negotiations with Quebec and the provinces. Obviously, the special committee could make a number of recommendations and outline some options, but all decisions would require constitutional negotiations. As I have said from the beginning, we have one immutable condition: Quebec's political representation cannot be lowered, and Quebec must maintain its current political weight, at about 25%.

The House of Commons recognized the Quebec nation some time ago. Unfortunately, none of the federalist parties has wanted to implement measures to give tangible expression to this recognition.

The Bloc Québécois member for Joliette introduced a bill on the use of French in corporations and by the 250,000 workers under federal jurisdiction in Quebec. We wanted Bill 101 to apply to these 250,000 workers. But once again, all the Liberals and Conservatives opposed this measure. The NDP was divided, but the majority of its members voted to not apply the Charter of the French Language to Quebec corporations under federal jurisdiction.

Although the Quebec nation has been recognized by the House, all the federalist parties have always banded together to prevent this recognition from having a tangible expression.

The federalist parties have not yet wanted to give tangible expression to the recognition of the Quebec nation. However, the political representation of Quebec regions in the House of Commons, and in any future institution, will have to be 25%. We believe this is imperative and it must be even clearer because the House of Commons has recognized the Quebec nation.

I would like to close by saying that, for us, the best way to guarantee higher democratic standards in Quebec would be for Quebec to become a sovereign nation with full authority. That is our first priority.

The Bloc Québécois has proven time and time again that it is not here to reform Canadian institutions or to prevent reform. We will bring the mandates given to us by the Quebec people and the consensuses of Quebec's National Assembly here to Ottawa.

In other words, we will defend our assembly, our constituents here in the House of Commons. We will protect their democratic rights.

Petitions March 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to table a petition on behalf of people from the 23 municipalities of Vaudreuil-Soulanges. The petition has to do with the veterans charter, which was amended in 2006. These people believe that a lump-sum payment is not enough and is ill-suited to the needs of wounded soldiers, since it does not provide them with long-term financial security. Wounded veterans have a right to compensation from the federal government, but this is woefully inadequate. The petitioners are calling on the government to restore the veterans charter as well as the lifetime monthly pension as a form of compensation for wounded soldiers.

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, he is the one we are asking. The royal treatment given to the former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner is completely outrageous, particularly in light of the fact that former employees were forced to retire and lost some of their benefits.

How can the government justify signing an agreement to pay $500,000 to someone who is incompetent, unless it is to buy that person's silence? This is reminiscent of a line from a song from The Godfather: “Speak no one hears us”.

Former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, either the former Treasury Board president is a bad negotiator, having signed an employment contract that would pay out half a million dollars to Christiane Ouimet even if she were fired, or the contract did not have such a clause and the Conservatives bought her silence with half a million dollars. At best, they are incompetent; at worst, they are irresponsible.

Will the President of the Treasury Board table the employment contract so that we can check whether he promised at the outset to pay $500,000 to Christiane Ouimet?