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

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act April 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, the events at Polytechnique 25 years ago were really a turning point in how we saw gun control in Canada. In Quebec, we really see it more in that way still because it hit closer to home. Quebeckers tend to be a lot more understanding about public safety measures that need to be place. One of the things I have seen with the gun control measures that have been brought in over the past 25 years is that the rate of domestic violence with guns has gone down.

As to the number of suicides that have been prevented, I do not have the numbers in front of me, but they are radically higher, and that is very important. As I said, it is important to understand so much can happen over five years in someone's life. It is important to ensure we have access to good public health measures that are good for public safety.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act April 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we do not think that public safety is a priority in this bill. We must ensure that the use of firearms for sport hunting is put into perspective.

For example, the six-month grace period is dangerous since it makes firearms more difficult to track. We must all work together on addressing these issues.

As a Quebecker who grew up in a rural area and who represents a rural riding, I too have always been surrounded by firearms. My family did not own one, but all of my neighbours go hunting in the fall. That is normal for me. I recognize that this is a part of rural life for hunters, who want to be able to travel more easily with a firearm for use during the hunting season.

However, we do not know what might happen in someone's life. Something can happen suddenly and change them. We must therefore reassess everyone's mental health every five years. That can only improve public safety.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act April 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak to Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code and to make a related amendment and a consequential amendment to other Acts.

This Conservative government bill cuts red tape for firearms owners. In my opinion, what it will really do is weaken Canadian gun control laws.

Let us remember that the government had to put work on this bill on hold. It was supposed to have been debated for the first time on October 22 of last year, a day we will all remember for a long time. That day, a soldier was shot and killed at the National War Memorial not far from here. The gunman then stormed the Centre Block on Parliament Hill.

In my opinion, the government should have put this bill on hold indefinitely. Having solid, reliable data and laws that govern the use of firearms in Canada, together with giving police the resources and tools they need to enforce rules and laws, is of vital importance to public safety and stemming violence in Canada, particularly violence against women.

With this bill, however, the Conservatives are playing politics on the firearms issue. They are using this issue to play political games and divide Canadians, which jeopardizes public safety and creates additional challenges for police services in Canada. They are trying to shift the debate and make us forget that we are talking about public safety

However, reasonable people from different parts of the country, both rural and urban, could very easily work together to come up with solutions to this problem rather than practising the politics of division, as the Conservatives are doing.

The opposition NDP members and I believe that any changes to the Firearms Act must be made with a certain degree of caution. Improving public safety must be the priority objective. Bill C-42 does not meet that criterion, however, and we cannot support it.

I want to talk about the measures that are actually in Bill C-42. First of all, this bill allows a six-month grace period when a five-year licence expires, for gun owners who have failed to renew their licence.

Right now, owners must have an authorization to transport in order to have the right to transport their firearms. They must apply to a provincial chief firearms officer. The authorization allows them to transport a specific weapon to and from a specific location. They must have the authorization with them when transporting the firearm.

However, Bill C-42 would make it possible for this authorization to be granted automatically with the firearms licence, thereby authorizing the transportation of prohibited and restricted firearms to and from a gun club, firing range, police station, gun shop or any other place where firearms are used.

The bill also gives cabinet a new power, namely, the power to change the definitions of the classifications of firearms set out in section 84 of the Criminal Code through regulations that make exceptions. Through a regulation, cabinet could classify firearms that would normally be defined as prohibited or restricted as non-restricted firearms. Right now, firearms are classified based on assessments conducted as part of the Canadian firearms program, which is administered by the RCMP. These classifications are then approved by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Let us look at the problems associated with that. First, the grace period is problematic because a firearms licence allows the police and other authorities to access the latest information about the owner of a firearm. We talked a lot about this important topic when we discussed the firearms registry. It is important for the police to know who owns a firearm, what type of firearm it is and where these firearms are being taken.

As part of the licence renewal process, firearm owners are assessed to determine whether they have mental health problems. This is a way of detecting whether there is a potential risk for the owners themselves or for the public. This assessment makes it possible to determine fairly early on whether there is a potential risk and helps the police to intervene in the case of an accident.

The timeframe set out in the bill could delay access to that information and could pose very serious risks to public safety. The Conservative Party members will likely say that anyone who does not renew his or her licence will have a criminal record. In fact, failing to renew one's licence is considered criminal because it is a serious matter. It is not as though this licence has to be renewed every year. It is renewed every five years.

Licence renewal is mandatory and failing to meet that obligation is considered criminal as a way of addressing the risk that gun owners may have mental health problems. A lot can happen in a person's life in five years. It is therefore important that all licence holders be in good mental and physical health so that they can use their hunting guns properly.

The measure on transporting firearms could also cause problems for police forces in their fight against the unauthorized transport of firearms. Why is it so important to control the use of firearms, keep these data and make public safety the priority?

We are not here to attack Canadians living in rural regions or hunters simply because they own guns. That is not it at all. Our priority is public safety. We are talking about guns that can be used to attack and kill people. It only makes sense to exercise the best possible control, while allowing people to use their guns.

The problem is that in Canada, gun violence remains a factor in many domestic abuse cases, causing some women to stay in abusive situations out of fear of being shot by their partners. Unfortunately, the presence of firearms is a top risk factor associated with domestic murders of women in Canada. In 2009, nearly 75,000 incidents of violent crimes against women were by current or former spouses or someone with whom the women were otherwise in an intimate relationship. These are the incidents that were reported to police. It is estimated that over 70% of such incidents go unreported.

Women are three to four times more likely than men to be victims of a spousal homicide. According to the most recent data available from Statistics Canada, in the past decade, from 2000 to 2009, over a quarter of women killed by a current or previous partner were by means of firearms.

Most women killed with guns are killed with legally owned guns. Family and intimate assaults involving firearms were 12 times more likely to result in death than intimate assaults that did not involve firearms. However, homicides of women with firearms dropped by over 63% with progressive strengthening of gun laws from 1991 to 2005, while murders of women by other means, such as stabbing and beating, declined by only 38% because we enforced the laws and put laws in place.

Twenty-five years have passed since the Polytechnique massacre, when 14 young women were violently murdered just because they were women. These events led to the creation of days of activism against gender violence, when we come together to reflect on the meaning of this attack against women. We also reflect on the fight for women's rights and the work that must still be done to achieve true gender equality.

This event of 25 years ago marked a turning point in the debate on gun control in Canada and spurred Canadian politicians to tighten access to firearms and start tracking legally purchased guns. The NDP has always proposed practical solutions to the legitimate concerns of the many Canadians who use firearms. We have always taken care to respect the rights of aboriginal peoples while ensuring that police services have the tools they need to protect Canadian communities.

Data on 1.6 million firearms in the province of Quebec will now be destroyed.

This bill would limit the powers of provincial chief firearms officers through regulations. By limiting the role of these officers, the federal government will make it more difficult for the provinces to set the standards they believe are necessary to implement the laws that govern firearms.

Unfortunately, the reforms introduced by the bill do not work for all Canadians. Therefore, we cannot support the bill.

Aboriginal Affairs March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the minister insists on blaming everyone other than himself and his own inaction.

There have been more and more calls for his resignation. Yesterday on Tout le monde en parle we heard a moving plea from Laurie Odjick, the mother of Maisy, who disappeared more than six years ago in the aboriginal community of Kitigan Zibi.

Will the minister listen to her call for justice and for a national public inquiry?

Aboriginal Affairs March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development deeply offended first nations leaders when he tried to cite an unsourced fact contradicted by the RCMP. Instead of attacking indigenous people, the minister should bring people together to end the violence, and finally call a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

Will the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development stand up and apologize for his hurtful and thoughtless comments?

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, indeed it is very difficult to see what is happening with this sort of discussion and the way it is being taken out of context, when we are talking about intervening in a humanitarian way, as though that means I am not concerned. I am in fact alarmed by the situation.

I do want to stress that there is a completely different vision of how we should be intervening globally in conflicts; how we need to be able to support countries and communities; and how we need to be able to support development of communities economically. We need to be able to support the equality of women. These are things that create sustainable development. That is what we need to be going in and doing. Of course, right now there is a need for direct humanitarian aid, but also going into communities to prevent the spread is something we could be doing, rather than intervening militarily.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I find it really too bad that the minister has, apparently, only a knowledge of the history of Iraq going back about two years. It seems as though he has forgotten that there have been decades of violent dictatorship in Iraq that have caused extremism to rise; and building political institutions that are democratic, strong, and inclusive has been very difficult. It has not been a priority of the international community. Rather, in 2003, the United States invaded Iraq against the will of the international community.

What we are seeing today is only a continuing of decades of violence not being addressed in long-term, sustainable ways. Obviously, what is happening right now is a humanitarian crisis of the highest level, but it did not arise out of nowhere.

We need to understand what the consequences are of intervention in Iraq and what it is going to mean decades in the future.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we are here this evening to talk about the government's motion to extend Canada's combat mission in Iraq in response to the atrocious acts of violence and serious human rights violations perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Before us we have the Prime Minister's request to shift the advise and assist mission that began in September to a front-line combat mission, after the air campaign that began in November 2014, during which Canada conducted 53 air strikes in Iraq.

After just completing our commitment in Afghanistan, where troop deployment was the longest in our history—12 years—resulting in 40,000 veterans, 160 deaths, thousands of injured and thousands more with post-traumatic stress disorder, we are now embarking on another conflict.

In the meantime, many of our veterans and their loved ones still do not have access to adequate health care, benefits and other types of support, because of how this government is managing Veterans Affairs.

Since the fall, the government has deployed 69 members of the special operations forces and roughly 600 additional Canadian Forces troops to Iraq. The government has maintained that this is not a combat mission, but we know that since January, the Canadian special operations forces have exchanged fire with Islamic State militants on Iraqi soil.

The death of Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron confirms to us that the situation is much more complex, and reminds us of the risks associated with deploying our troops to the front lines and of our duty as members of Parliament to take our role here seriously.

In light of the government's refusal to call this a combat mission, we wonder what impact that will have on the compensation and danger pay of Canadian Forces members. Let us not forget that in 2013, danger pay was reduced for our troops in Afghanistan who were training the Afghan army because of the supposed lack of danger.

Paul Heinbecker, Canada's last ambassador to the UN Security Council, said in The Globe and Mail on March 23 that our women and men in uniform have no place being in Iraq and they certainly have no place being in Syria.

Canada does not have to participate in this war. We should instead help save lives on the ground by finding solutions to the humanitarian crisis.

I will recall that the U.S. ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, said on CBC's The House on September 27:

We'd like as much more as Canada is willing to contribute, whether it's...humanitarian, whether it's militarily, at every level. By the way military alone isn't going to solve this problem...we're going to need help at multiple levels to ultimately destroy and degrade ISIL.

Norway, South Korea and New Zealand, among others, do not have a combat role. They are making a strictly humanitarian contribution, which is truly needed. There are serious human rights violations, including attacks that directly target the people and civilian infrastructure, executions and other civilian murders, kidnappings, rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence.

To date, the violence has caused the displacement of 2.5 million people in Iraq alone, and 5.2 million others require humanitarian assistance. At least 20% of the 2.5 million people displaced by war have a crucial need for protection, especially against trauma and sexual violence. This situation is made worse by the effects of the crisis in Syria on the region, because neighbouring countries are desperately trying to deal with the refugees and violence in Syria.

Syria has been in turmoil for five years, mired in a war that makes no distinction between civilians and combatants. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and half the population has fled. Neighbouring countries, which normally would accept Iraqi refugees, are already overwhelmed by the high number of Syrian refugees.

How can we address this dire situation? As Nelson Mandela said, our greatest weapon in the struggle for peace is education. That is because education is key to security and economic opportunity. We know children are disproportionately affected by armed conflict and by displacement. More than 70% of internally displaced children in Iraq remain out of school. Canada should increase its focus on the welfare of children and access to educational facilities.

We need to ensure that immediate needs such as water, food security, shelter, health, and psychosocial support are met. We must fight against sexual violence, support survivors, and protect minorities. We need to support the development of social infrastructure, supporting the communities themselves, and that means addressing the structural inequalities underpinning the violence in order to eliminate the possibility of more extremism arising.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said:

Over the longer-term, the biggest threat to terrorists is not the power of missiles—it is the politics of inclusion.

We know that peace and equality are linked. The empowerment of women is a powerful force behind economic growth, social and political stability and lasting peace. Women who are empowered are the foundation of communities that can fight radicalization and extremism.

For that reason, the NDP is asking the Government of Canada to work on contributing to the creation of responsible, democratic and peaceful governance in Iraq and to fight the threat of the group known as the Islamic State and other militant groups.

I want to cite for the House an article co-authored by the executive director of UN Women and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and Radhika Coomaraswamy. This article in Foreign Policy is called “Women Are the Best Weapon in the War Against Terrorism”. It was published on February 10, 2015. It states:

Militarized counterterrorism operations disrupt economic and social activity, and destroy civilian infrastructure—the schools, markets, and medical facilities relied on by women in traditional caring roles. When governments focus resources on expensive military operations, social ministries like health, family services, and education are often the first to face budget cuts. Civilian displacement leaves women and girls vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence, including, with grim regularity, crimes committed by the security forces supposed to be protecting them.

The failure to prevent these negative impacts constitutes willful negligence. It results in women’s re-victimization, and ultimately in more poverty, more desperation, and more radicalization. Militarized responses always risk civilian casualties and threaten to drive marginalized young people into the ranks of extremists. Indeed, as increasing media reports show, despite the brutal and well-known crimes committed against women by the Islamic State, teenage girls are reportedly running away from their homes to join it.

In closing, I must say what the leader of the opposition and of the NDP said so well during his speech on Tuesday:

ISIS has thrived in Iraq and Syria precisely because those countries lack stable, well-functioning governments capable of maintaining peace and security within their own borders.

Canada's first contribution should be to use every diplomatic, humanitarian, and financial resource at our disposal to respond to the overwhelming human tragedy unfolding on the ground and to strengthen political institutions in both those countries…

…the tragedy in Iraq and Syria will not end with another western-led invasion in that region. It will end by helping the people…to build the political institutions and security capabilities they need to oppose these threats themselves.

The Islamic State is already reacting to the air campaign by dispersing its troops, sheltering in civilian areas and frequently changing location. Air strikes elicit violent responses in local communities, leading to further instability and insecurity.

Instead of engaging in an unending military combat that is not supported by the United Nations Security Council, the NDP urges Canada's Conservative government to make its contribution on a humanitarian level.

Status of Women February 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, gender equality has yet to be achieved here in Canada and around the world.

In a week and a half, the UN Commission on the Status of Women will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing platform for action on gender equality. International support is quite widespread, and many countries have already reaffirmed their commitment.

Will Canada be one of those countries and immediately reaffirm its commitment to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action?

Aboriginal Affairs February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is not an either-or choice between investments and a national strategy.

Families of the 1,200 women and girls who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada deserve to see coordinated action to end the crisis. They deserve answers to understand how indigenous women, who make only up 4.3% of Canada's female population, represent 16% of all the women killed in Canada.

Will the government commit to concrete action with its provincial and territorial counterparts and call a national public inquiry?