House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 19th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question and comments.

It makes absolutely no sense that the government is talking about being economically responsible and yet wants to build bigger prisons. It makes no sense.

What is going on is just illogical. I cannot understand what the bill is supposed to be doing. It does not make any sense. It will not do any of the things the Conservatives claim it will do. It does not follow any of the things that are their priorities such as the economy and fairness. It is blatantly opposed to all those things.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 19th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the question of queue jumping speaks to the idea that the members across the way do not understand what a refugee is. It is someone who is in a desperate situation, whose security is at risk, whose health is at risk due to the situation in his or her home country. Refugees do not get in line, they flee, otherwise they could be killed or raped.

Members opposite do not seem to understand that fleeing is fleeing and is not getting in line and waiting. Whether people are in camps or on a boat to come to Canada is just not the point.

As a member of the global community, Canada has a moral obligation to help these people.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 19th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, that is not the point. It is that we would be jailing people who have come here looking for safety. The government is not making a distinction between those who are committing acts of human smuggling and those who desperately need to leave their countries in order to be safe. That will not be a deterrent to those looking for safety. Rather, it will cause mass amounts of physical and mental health issues. That makes no sense if we look at the situations of the people who are coming to this country looking for help.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 19th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am profoundly sad that Canadians must once again stand to oppose this morally repugnant bill. Immediately I would like to remind the House that the people who stand to be criminalized by this bill, indeed the people who are already victimized as they languish in Canadian detention centres under inhumane conditions for excessive lengths of time, are children, women, victims of torture, abuse and rape, and victims of the kind of poverty that entirely eradicates an individual's inalienable right to self-determination and autonomy.

Already at any given point in time, Canada is holding around 450 non-status migrants in detention centres and maximum security prisons. Dozens of these people at any given time are children. Charges have never been laid against them and they have no idea when they will be released or if they will be deported.

Canada does not jail children unless they are seeking asylum. We do not jail people for years when they have never been charged with a crime, unless they are seeking asylum. We do not jail people without providing access to legal counsel, unless they are seeking asylum. We do not categorically bar prisoners from seeking bail, unless of course they are seeking asylum. We do no jail the traumatized victims of political conflict, abuse, and poverty, unless they are seeking asylum.

Canada is guilty of doing all of this already. The use and misuse of maximum security detention centres to imprison those seeking refugee status is a blight on this nation's integrity. The bill before us today will make this travesty infinitely worse. Among its many problems, Bill C-4 states that anyone arbitrarily labelled as a designated claimant, for reasons left to the discretion of the minister, will be mandatorily detained on arrival in a detention centre or prison and will not have their case reviewed for one full year. Once again, a remind the House that this does include children.

It is incumbent upon the House to consider the health and safety of individuals when we look at a bill that commits people to imprisonment. Health is rarely considered in immigration policy, but study after study from around the globe is proving that immigration detention strategies are creating significant health concerns. A study from the Centre for Population Mental Health Research that was published in the Public Library of Science journal finds that the rate of mental disorder among populations held in detention centres are substantially higher than those of people held in community settings. Not surprisingly, children in particular show evidence of severe mental health impairment. Rates of suicide and self-harm are at a level comparable to or higher than that among prison populations.

There is a strong correlation between the mental health of refugees and the length of time spent in detention. When finally released from detention they will almost always suffer from prolonged mental health impairment due to the trauma suffered while they were detained. These detention centres, like the centre for the prevention of immigration in Laval, where upwards of a hundred individuals, including children, are being held at any given time, or like the maximum security prison in Rivière-des-Prairies where refugee claimants make up one-third of the prison population while they have not been charged with any crime or convicted of any crime, are very often the site of human rights violations and abuse. The migrants held at these detention centres are routinely denied access to any health services, especially mental health services.

Are members here today prepared to assume responsibility for endangering the lives of these people by neglecting their health? When they are eventually assessed, so many of their claims are proved to be legitimate. The government is punishing innocent people. The Conservative members of the House wish to punish more innocent people with harsher mandatory imprisonment for longer periods of time.

According to his own discretion, this bill will allow the minister to retroactively wrench a whole family or part of a family out of their community where they are waiting to hear about their refugee status. In other cases, they may already have refugee status. They will be taken under this law and thrown into detention. Family members would be forceably separated. Children would be forceably removed from their parents despite the fact that their parents have not been accused of being unfit, if their case has never come to court or if they have been flagged by child protection agents. The lasting anguish inflicted by separating a parent from a child or a child from a parent would be, and already is, guilt on the head of the government.

The Canada Border Services Agency jailed 14,362 people from 2008 to 2009 for immigration reasons at the cost of $45 million of taxpayers' money. Under Bill C-4, with the minister's new power to arbitrarily define any migrant as a human smuggler, these numbers are sure to increase.

The government must make the definition of “designated claimant” clear and transparent. At this point, according to this bill, the minister would have the absolute power to label any group of refugees as designated claimants for largely arbitrary reasons that he will not disclose. Once labelled, a refugee would be subject to the litany of unfair regulations set out by this bill. The discriminatory nature of this arbitrary designation would create two classes of refugees in Canada. This is a clear violation of section 15 of the charter that states that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, even refugees and migrants. It is crucial to the integrity of our charter that all persons are afforded the protection of basic human rights under our law, including those without status.

It is the obligation of the House to not pass legislation that is in violation of our charter. Not only is this bill in violation of our charter, it is also in violation of the United Nations' protocol relating to the status of refugees and our own Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

We have to recognize that jailing people on Canadian soil in an effort to stop them from fleeing persecution and poverty from wherever they come is completely nonsensical. The bill intentionally and maliciously refuses to draw a distinction between those who are committing the crime of human smuggling and those who are victims of the crime of human smuggling themselves. It is true that people are trafficked to this country under false pretenses and are abused, raped and kidnapped as a result of the human trafficking industry. However, enforcing the same punitive measures against the victims and the criminals themselves is the very definition of the word “insanity”.

Earlier today, the member for St. Catharines excused this exact lapse of logic by saying that the human smugglers of the ships disguise themselves as those who are being smuggled. That is absurd. If a criminal wears a disguise while committing a crime, it does not give us reason to change our laws to erase the distinction between the criminals and the victims. Under any circumstance, that proposition is laughable. However, for some reason that line of thinking is tolerated when we speak of the plight of refugees in Canada.

The member for St. Catharines also pointed out that Canadians do not wish to share their health care services with those seeking asylum and who do not yet have status. I would like to state that I am one woman who would be perfectly happy to share the privilege of public health care with those who are most needy and vulnerable.

In December 2009, Jan Szamko died in an immigration centre in Canada after being denied medical aid. In December 1995, Mike Akhinen died from medical neglect at the detention centre in Mississauga known as Celebrity Inn. These are just two cases of neglect that resulted in death. Instances of non-status Canadians being denied medical attention is extremely common and this bill would make it 100% legal.

Refugees come to Canada with legitimate claims, fleeing the worst conditions imaginable. We have a moral obligation to help them. Would the Conservative members of the House be willing to look individuals in the face when they are desperate and ill and deny them a doctor? That is inhumane and I refuse to believe that Canadians are inhumane. I refuse to believe that we are as illogical as this bill. When my colleagues from the government speak endlessly on behalf of what Canadians want them to do, I would like to remind them that the majority of Canadians did not vote for them and they do not necessarily share the same values. I am proud to represent some of the many Canadians who did not vote for them and who do not support this bill.

This bill reduces smuggled human refugees to goods being illegally brought into this country. The government thinks that by raising the duty or the tariffs on the commodity will discourage this trade out of existence. Refugees are not cattle. They are not softwood lumber. They are human beings and human smuggling is not a commodity trade. Maybe we could compare it to a service. Even if we were to follow this line of logic through to its conclusion, we could assume that if this bill were to come into effect it would force human smugglers to raise the price of the service that they provide to refugees in response to the increased tariffs we are now imposing on them. Clearly, it does not make any sense.

Some of the members of the opposition have already spoken about history and historical precedent. I believe it is important to look to history before we act as a nation. Let us look to another time when human beings were treated like commodities to be levied. Imagine how history would regard us if we jailed the refugees coming through the Underground Railroad into Canada during the time of American slavery. I guarantee this bill would bring the same kind of shame on Canada. We would live to regret it.

Beyond the fact that the bill is morally repugnant for all of the reasons I have enumerated in this speech, it is not what it purports to be. How would the news that Canada has new tough-on-smuggling laws ever reach those who are actually fleeing to Canada by these means? How will the victims of poverty and persecution who come to Canada seeking asylum get the news that we just passed some tough new inhumane refugee laws?

The only way this legislation will ever be effective is if the government delivers leaflets around the world explaining our new laws. The bill clearly is not aimed at reducing human smuggling. It is targeting Canadian voters by making them feel like the threat of illegal immigration is greater than it actually is.

I join members of the opposition in opposing the bill. It not only creates an arbitrary process but indeed is discriminatory against the most vulnerable citizens of this world.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I agree that communities are interconnected networks of people, and a standard for everybody should be maintained such that the community can function well.

At this point, I think we will probably be elaborating more over the weekend, but I am a bit too tired to keep going right now.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I think the workers just want to go back to work with a fair negotiated agreement.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, as I said, I think the point my colleagues and I have been trying to make tonight is that we have to value our workers. Our communities need every member of the community to be able to live in dignity. It is upsetting to me that the members on the other side have not quite realized that this is not about specific groups of Canadians but about our communities as a whole.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would first like to take this opportunity to greet the people of my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. Many of them are celebrating Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day today. I will not be with them and I would like to express my great disappointment that the Prime Minister refused the leader of the official opposition's proposal to suspend the sitting of the House for today. We therefore cannot celebrate with our constituents.

That being said, I rise today in this House to do my duty and carry out the mandate that was given to me when I was elected. My constituents gave me the mandate of defending workers. It is a question of principle. Workers and the public should not be punished for Canada Post's bad faith.

Forgive me, but I am starting to feel a little bit tired since I have been here since yesterday morning. I listened carefully to what was said during the debate last night. I am concerned about the fact that the hon. members are not listening to each other.

I would like to speak a little bit about the effect that these events will have on our communities.

The union we are discussing this morning is a responsible union, one which took moderate job action so as to accelerate the negotiations without stopping mail delivery. It is the employer, Canada Post, a crown corporation under the government's responsibility, that decided to reduce and then stop mail delivery entirely by locking out all of its employees. We have debated this a great deal and I think that that is clear as can be.

It is unreasonable for the government to impose wages that are lower than those in the previous proposals, to make workers pay for the employer's bad faith and to try to turn the Canadian people against postal workers.

Even though the people of my riding, Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, want to get their mail, they understand the difference between a lockout and a strike. The people in my riding understand very well that the postal workers want to distribute the mail as quickly as possible. However, they cannot agree to sacrifice their pensions, their health, their job security and the working conditions of the newer workers.

Small businesses in Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel know that in order to be able to depend on quality service from Canada Post, its workers have to feel they are valued.

All of the workers in my riding support this, because they know that small communities cannot be sustained when members of the community cannot support themselves.

We are talking here—tonight, this morning, and over the weekend if necessary—about giving people the means to defend themselves. This is a matter of respect for workers and the dignity of workers.

I would point out that it is thanks to the workers who were in the vanguard that parental leave, paid for by employers, was won. I think this is something extremely important, since it represents equality. It was the trade union movement that gave us this. These women and men, these workers, simply want to be able to preserve their standing in our society and not become second-class workers.

The work done by postal employees is extremely important to all Canadians and Quebeckers, but it is obviously not valued by this government.

I hope that Canada Post will return to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement.

I will be here day and night, if need be, to stand up for the right of all Canadians to collectively bargain the right of everyone to a job that enables them to support their family and their community, so that all Canadians are able to retire with security and dignity.

Plaisance Heritage Centre June 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise in this House to represent the people of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. First, I would like to thank them for placing their trust in me in the recent election.

As I speak for the first time in the House, I would like to point out the exceptional work of the North Nation Mills Corporation's workers and volunteers, who are preparing for the new tourist season at the Plaisance Heritage Centre and Plaisance Falls. Their goal is to showcase the history of this village and its neighbouring communities. The Plaisance Heritage Centre helps keep the origins and the development of the Petite-Nation area alive in our memories.

Such initiatives contribute to the development and vitality of our villages and, therefore, I am proud to recognize the exceptional work done by all those involved.

We wish them much success in 2011.