House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Rivière-du-Nord (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Watershed Awards September 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, on May 29, the City of Saint-Jérôme won the first Watershed Award for its Schulz Park Detention Pond. This award is handed out to municipalities that have taken proactive measures to reduce their vulnerability to flooding and water damage.

Originally, the Schulz Park project would have destroyed the existing natural environment in order to construct a detention pond. But the project was modified to highlight the site's environmental significance and to integrate it into the recreational park. In addition, this new project helps prevent overflow in the storm sewer system. This project is consistent with the City of Saint-Jérôme's desire to promote residential development in a sustainable development context.

I am proud to highlight the wonderful initiative of the City of Saint-Jérôme that helped the city win this award.

Maureen Forrester June 17th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, star contralto Maureen Forrester died yesterday. Born in Montreal in 1930, she began her career in church choirs.

She gave her debut concert in 1953 with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, but it was not until a 1956 Carnegie Hall performance that her international career took off. She headlined in the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, France, England, Germany, Spain, Argentina, and many other countries. She was known for her perfect mastery of German pronunciation. She excelled in several musical styles, including classical, opera, musical comedy, burlesque and popular song.

She also taught at the University of Toronto and chaired the vocal arts department of the Philadelphia Music Academy. She chaired the Canada Council for the Arts from 1983 to 1988.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I extend our sincere condolences to her five children, her family and her friends.

Association francophone pour le savoir June 4th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, Acfas, the Association francophone pour le savoir, held its 78th conference in Montreal from May 10 to 14. The theme of this year's conference was “Découvrir aujourd'hui ce que sera demain”, or discovering the future today. More than 6,000 francophone scientists, including 550 foreign researchers from 30 countries, had the opportunity to discuss and share their knowledge, in French. The conference was a great success thanks in part to the excellent work of the volunteers. It was considered one of the largest multidisciplinary gatherings of learning and research in the Francophonie.

This annual meeting brings together scientists from the fields of health and life sciences, physics, mathematics and engineering, the arts and humanities, and education. Acfas is a not for profit organization.

The next conference will be held for the first time at two universities, Université de Sherbrooke and Bishop's University.

As the critic for the Francophonie, I am proud to announce that the sciences are alive and well in French.

La Francophonie May 28th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, for the first time this June, the Université du Québec en Outaouais, the UQO, will offer an innovative program called Université d'été sur la francophonie des Amériques. Working with the Université Laval, the UQO will offer the second part of this summer university course. This event is the fruit of collaboration with the UQO's Senghor chair and the Centre de la francophonie des Amériques.

The first edition of the summer program will bring together some 15 experts, including Graham Fraser, the Commissioner of Official Languages, Benoît Pelletier, former Quebec MP, Barry Ancelet of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Virgil Benoît of the University of North Dakota, and representatives from Mexico, Maine, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. They will share their knowledge and discuss la Francophonie in the Americas. This will be the first time these researchers will come together in one place to talk about the French fact.

I am sure that this event will be a great success and I salute this excellent initiative.

Committees of the House May 26th, 2010

Oh, oh!

Committees of the House May 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I will give a quick response. Some flight attendants are also frustrated because they are perfectly bilingual. They are doing an excellent job, but they have to work with other flight attendants who absolutely do not want to learn French and who say, flat out, “I don't speak French”. It is frustrating.

It is also frustrating to see everything that is going on with bilingualism in other areas. The future is not looking very bright. As far as judges are concerned, I find it hard to believe that we cannot find a certain number of judges who speak both languages. That is almost impossible. I think we absolutely must roll up our sleeves in this House and put such important and urgent matters back on the table in order to resolve them as quickly as possible.

Committees of the House May 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is quite right. This must be taken seriously. As my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst said, when they start looking for underlying problems, it is because they do not want to act, they are on the defensive. There is no need to be on the defensive; there is a need to act quickly.

They should also stop telling the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities what a good job he is doing, how much they love him and how handsome he is. He should introduce some bills. He should move quickly on an Air Canada bill. The copy and paste method might not be the best choice, because three years have passed since the last bill. We need a solid bill forcing Air Canada, its subsidiaries and subcontractors to comply with the Official Languages Act. It is very important. We will then have full services that comply with what is said about this so-called bilingual country. At least we will have service in French in Quebec, and that is very important.

Committees of the House May 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, it was an honour for me to move this motion at the Standing Committee on Official Languages. I thank my colleague from Ottawa—Vanier for improving my motion by wanting to bring it here to the House for debate.

The problem has existed for a very long time. My colleague, Benoît Sauvageau, who is no longer a sitting member of the House, was talking about it a decade ago. People were filing complaint after complaint back then, because Air Canada did not provide service in both official languages. Now it is 2010. I have been an MP for 16 years, and we have been talking about this for 10 years. For 10 years, we have been talking about a law that would ensure that Air Canada provides service in both official languages. It is not rocket science. A bill was introduced by the then minister of transport, Jean Lapierre, on May 2, 2005, but an election was called and the bill died on the order paper. The Conservatives introduced two bills, one on October 18, 2006 and the other on December 10, 2007, but there has been nothing since then. We do not hear about this anymore. The biggest danger is that the government will do nothing.

I think it is outrageous that Air Canada does not realize that on an Air Canada Jazz flight, a recording is played to provide in flight safety instructions in French. Imagine if something bad happens. They will need a DJ to figure out what recording needs to be played next. It makes no sense. People need to be able to provide service in both official languages.

My colleague from Acadie—Bathurst can tell a few stories. He asked for something to eat on a plane and even pointed to a picture on the menu. The flight attendant kept saying, “I don't speak French”, even though there was a picture right in front of her eyes. There is ill will. In my opinion, there truly is an unwillingness to enforce the legislation.

This government is also displaying bad faith since it has been doing absolutely nothing to change the situation since 2007, which is going on four years now. Does the government want us to draft the bill? We have three versions. The opposition would only need a few days to draft a bill. We could introduce it in committee. I even asked the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities about it when he appeared before the committee. I asked him whether it would help if I moved a motion that he could present to cabinet to put pressure on the ministers and on the Prime Minister to ensure that legislation is introduced in committee as soon as possible. He answered yes on two occasions. And that is what we did. The committee has done its work and the vote was unanimous. All parties were in favour. There were no abstentions. I do not understand why nothing is happening.

I have read Air Canada's regulations, and what worries me is that Air Canada is increasingly relying on subcontractors. The subcontractors are not subject to any bilingualism laws. This means that people will not be able to receive services in French. That is worrisome. There are more and more small companies. I have nothing against subcontractors or new companies popping up in order to serve different regions. There is now an airline that can get you to Rivière-du-Loup, but you may not even be served in French. That makes absolutely no sense. In Baie-Comeau, Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec City and Montreal, services need to be in French. The same goes for Acadie—Bathurst and Moncton.

A Liberal member told us that it took three years to get a sign taken off the washroom door in Moncton that incorrectly said “Ne fumez pas les toilettes”—Don't smoke the toilets—in French. That is unbelievable. He saw it every weekend when he returned home. He complained every weekend to get them to change that sign, and his complaints were ignored.

I get the impression that Air Canada could not care less about what the government does here, because it is doing absolutely nothing. We are the only ones who can put pressure on Air Canada. Even Air Canada said that parliamentarians are the only ones who can change the legislation to require them to take action. Air Canada itself told us that. I have it right here in front of me.

It is not the Commissioner of Official Languages who can do so. He only has the power to conduct consultations and make recommendations. As parliamentarians, we can do something. What have we been waiting for since 2007? It would only take a small bill, three, four or five pages in length. I am convinced that the opposition parties can sit down together to draft a bill, discuss it in committee and pass it as quickly as possible, to ensure that Air Canada does its job. It is beyond comprehension that we cannot be served in our own language, especially by Air Canada, a company that the government has helped over the years and continues to help on occasion. It is a company that people are proud of. However, we are no longer served in our language.

I am infuriated every time I see that blasted little cassette with French safety instructions. Can we not find bilingual people or force Air Canada to provide their unilingual employees with real training, not just teach them to say, I don't speak French? They must learn the basic French they need to do their job well. That is what we need. We must force Air Canada to provide this training.

It is not very complicated. However, the government does not have the will to do it. It does not care or is not interested. It is not a priority and never has been for the government. We see it in the issue of the bilingualism of judges, a battle that has been waged for a long time. We see it in the interest of the committee chair. We see it in many things. The government must look at this question very carefully because things will only get worse and that concerns me. Air Canada flight attendants will be increasingly unilingual Anglophones and it will be disappointing for us. This company is important here. It does manage to generate a great deal of money, but it must absolutely provide bilingual services.

I do not want the experience of VIA Rail to be repeated, even though it has since changed course. People were unable to speak their language in a crisis situation. Passengers were not told in their own language what to do. That must never happen again. The opposition is not afraid to take action and hopes that the government will do so also. That is why we presented a motion in this House. Let us take action and prepare a bill as quickly as possible.

Committees of the House May 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier for improving my motion, since it made it to the House of Commons.

Does my colleague believe that the lack of legislation governing bilingualism at Air Canada poses a risk? For example, passengers on an aircraft could face some danger and have to react quickly. If the staff does not speak both official languages, this could result in a chaotic situation.

Marc Gascon May 26th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to congratulate Marc Gascon on his election as president of the Union des municipalités du Québec. He was elected at the 89th annual conference, which was held from May 13 to 15, 2010.

A native of Saint-Jérôme, Mr. Gascon has been the mayor of that community since 1995. A man of action, he is a member of a number of development agencies and puts all of his talent and energy into improving the quality of life in Saint-Jérôme, with results to show for it. I have no doubt that he is well-suited to his new responsibilities as president of the UMQ.

A Quebec-wide survey was presented at the meeting, and it shows that a majority of citizens believe that the chief executives of their communities have integrity and listen to their citizens. These characteristics describe Marc Gascon, the mayor of Saint-Jérôme, perfectly.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues and myself, congratulations, Marc, on your new position as president of the UMQ.