House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Laval (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 23% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Balanced Refugee Reform Act April 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

The fact that the timeframe is so short is one of our concerns. Eight days is a very short period of time. We are proposing at least 28 days, a period that would not be that much longer but long enough to make a difference in the life of a person.

Moreover the first people to meet with refugee status applicants are now public officials. That also makes a big difference. The second person they will meet with is a judge. We have been asking for a long time that the applicant not always be referred to the same person. If a person has refused to grant refugee status once to an applicant, this same person will not have changed their minds about the applicant the second time.

We have to admit that some headway has been made. However, some truly important changes must still be made to the bill.

Balanced Refugee Reform Act April 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, it was my understanding that the refugee appeal division was a pilot project that would be run in the greater Toronto area and would only be accessible to certain refugee status applicants. It was also my understanding that the real appeal division would be put in place in 2013-14.

In my view, that means that the appeal division does not exist because it would not apply to Quebec for the time being. That is why I stated that the appeal division will only be operational in 2013-14.

Balanced Refugee Reform Act April 26th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to speak to Bill C-11.

I would like to begin by saying that the Bloc Québécois will support sending this bill to committee so it may be studied more thoroughly, along with all issues pertaining to immigration and refugees.

This bill raises a number of concerns. We have already pointed out several inconsistencies relating to refugee status.

I would like to talk about two people I know personally from my riding. A man and woman, now married, are refugees from Tanzania and they are still waiting for their children. They have been fighting to bring their children to Canada for five years. They were asked to submit to DNA testing. The UN even had to intervene to do a comparative study and ensure that these children really are the children of this refugee couple in Canada. Now that we have received the results, we hope things will speed up, but there are still some obstacles.

When the children of legitimate refugees in Canada spend five years in refugee camps, we have every right to wonder if the measures proposed by the minister are rigorous enough to ensure that refugee claims under the family reunification program are being assessed correctly.

A number of countries are considered safe. We have a major problem with this provision in the bill. Who can determine with certainty whether or not a country is safe? Apparently Mexico is considered a safe country. However, on the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website, Canadians travelling to Mexico are discouraged from visiting certain regions of the country because doing so would put their lives at risk.

If it is too dangerous for the lives of Canadians and Quebeckers, is it not too dangerous for the Mexicans living there? Why are Mexicans who want to be free from the shackles of the drug wars and power struggles throughout their country not allowed to claim refugee status? Are we perhaps underestimating the safe nature of that country?

Yesterday, a new government was elected in Hungary. At first glance, that country seems safe. The right wing government has two thirds of the seats. With that many seats, it can implement measures to advance its program without having to consult other political parties. Hungary may have been considered safe yesterday or today, but tomorrow human rights there might not be respected the same way and the situation might change.

The House has passed a bill on free trade with Colombia. And yet there is a call for greater respect for human rights in that country. If a Colombian citizen applied, could he be considered a refugee in Canada if we have a free trade agreement with his country? We have to wonder.

In Colombia, abortion is illegal and punishable by a prison sentence. In more than 70 countries around the world, homosexuality is illegal and even punishable by death in some countries. What would happen if people from those countries came here? We know what our Conservative colleagues think about homosexuality. In a country where homosexuality is legal and part of our daily lives, a minister who offered a subsidy for Toronto's gay pride parade was rebuked and put in her place.

Therefore, we have good reason to ask whether giving the minister the latitude to designate safe countries without consulting this House is an acceptable measure.

On the other hand, we are pleased that the minister wants to speed up the refugee claim process. However, we must not move too quickly and we must be careful. We all know that a refugee is often someone who has left their country in a hurry with nothing, without documents or money, and is truly destitute. When a person leaves their country with absolutely nothing, it takes a little more than eight days to obtain the necessary documents.

We might be able to do something, to make some changes to the bill so that the person's first appearance is scheduled more than eight days later. This would allow the person to obtain documents, think about what he wants to do, how to do it and better understand what is happening. The person would have the opportunity to consult the various organizations in the community that could help him.

It has also been noted that there are some changes in the bill with respect to the refugee appeal division and we are pleased that it is finally being implemented. In fact, the Bloc Québécois has introduced two bills to create and implement the refugee appeal division, even though it was contained in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that this House voted on. Neither bill was successful. One version even died after being adopted by the Senate. When it returned to the House, the bill died because, if I recall correctly, the House was closed for an election.

It is unfortunate because, since 2005, the number of people applying for refugee status has more than doubled, from 20,000 then to 60,000 today. That is truly a lot of people claiming refugee status.

On the weekend, I got a call from a psychologist who works with victims of rape, incest and sexual abuse. She told me about a woman who had been imprisoned last week because she claimed refugee status and was not believed. This woman is from Guinea, where customary marriages are still common. She was married at a very young age to a much older man, who abused her sexually and physically. She had very obvious signs of torture on her body, and even a scar from an iron on her breast. The hospital here in Canada was able to determine that this woman really had been abused.

This woman claimed refugee status, and after having lived in Canada for some time, she met a man from her country of origin, fell in love with him and married him. After getting married, she pursued her claim for refugee status, but she was told that her marriage with this man was not genuine and she was accused of fraud. She was told that she had only married this man to obtain refugee status and sponsorship, although they had been legally married in front of the entire community. They are together, they are married, and they are now expecting a child.

Last year, at the beginning of the economic crisis, the Minister of Labour said that if there was no work in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, workers should go out west, where there is work. This woman's husband listened to the minister and went out west to support his family. The couple was then told that their marriage was not genuine because he went to work out west to support his family. That is unbelievable.

Last week, this 42-year-old woman, who has type 2 diabetes, was put in jail. She is now at the immigration detention centre in Laval. On April 28, she is going to be sent back to her country, where nobody will take care of her or her soon-to-be-born baby. Yet this very day, G8 ministers are in Halifax talking about maternal and child health, and the Prime Minister wants to introduce a maternal and child health initiative.

We cannot even take care of people here who are suffering and who could die if they return to their home countries because they will not receive adequate care. They could die. In Guinea, there are no doctors to provide the care that this woman will need until she gives birth because she has type 2 diabetes and is obese.

In reviewing the immigration system, we have to begin by making sure that public officials and judges have solid reasons for turning down applications from all individuals who have legitimate claims.

People have all kinds of reasons for wanting to stay here. A claimant might be a man who just wants to support his family. In contrast, a claimant might be a woman who says that she was forced to marry and will be found guilty by her ex-husband's family if she goes back to her home country. In these countries, women are held responsible if their husbands die. They can be charged and may suffer greatly.

How can we justify sending people back to countries like those whose values differ so dramatically from our own? Why would we support women in developing countries and save their lives when we do not support women and save their lives when they come here to ask for our help? I would really like to know. I am really confused about this, and I would like an answer to that question very soon.

I hope that this woman will be allowed to stay here. I hope she will not be sent away before her baby is born. It would be inhumane to send a woman in such a high-risk situation back to her country.

The refugee appeal division should have been implemented earlier so that this women could really appeal the decision made against her. Unfortunately, we are told that the refugee appeal division will come into effect by 2013 or 2014. That is three years from now, three long years for people who are suffering and wondering whether their claim will be heard. I hold out very little hope that this will happen.

I have often heard the minister talk to refugee, immigrant and other groups, and I believe he tells the truth. But I would like that honesty to extend to the measures he introduces.

I know that it is not as easy for a party to be in government as in opposition, because it has to take budgets and other factors into account. But the government members also have to consider what their colleagues are saying and calling for.

I hope this minister will do what he needs to do to ensure that all genuine refugee claimants can obtain refugee status. Too many people around the world are suffering. Moreover, we signed the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which means that we must not take refugee claimants' sexual orientation or country of origin into consideration, or what they are or what they do.

All we must consider is what they need.

We will support Bill C-11 so that it goes to committee and we can suggest amendments and correct measures that we feel are slightly random, unjustified or unjustifiable. I hope that everyone who is watching today will support what the Bloc Québécois is doing so that all refugee claimants can obtain refugee status.

In conclusion, the men and women who sit in the House have ideals and values similar to our own in some areas. I am certain that we will make the right decisions. We will do everything we can to ensure that the parts of the bill that we are not happy with are amended. Otherwise, the bill will not meet our expectations or refugee claimants' needs.

Armenia April 21st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, 95 years ago the Armenian people were victims of the first genocide of the 20th century. More than a million people were murdered.

Even though many countries have recognized the facts, the descendants of victims of this tragic event are still waiting for all nations to acknowledge this act of evil.

As we have seen numerous times over the years, Armenians must continue to fight and defend themselves against false accusations which are perpetuated in order to avoid accepting the truth about this genocide.

That is why we, the Bloc Québécois, continue to stand by them in their quest for justice.

[Member spoke in Armenian.]

Criminal Code April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise today to speak to the bill introduced by my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île. I do so, because I know this member very well. I know that she is a sensible woman, a courageous woman, and above all, a woman with incredible intellectual integrity.

I do not know anything about medication. I am not a doctor. I have no legal knowledge about anything addressed in this bill. But I do have a lot of life experience, and I hope to be the voice of reasoning on this bill this evening.

I have a great deal of life experience, and have found myself in many different situations. That is why today I am perhaps more willing to pass this bill so that we can further discuss it. I say this because I realize that, in my circles, it is a difficult subject to discuss. I think it is difficult to talk about death in Quebec. It is a difficult matter to bring up. We are afraid of death. We fear death as we fear life. We are afraid of death because it is final, scary and we do not know what will happen afterwards. We are afraid of the unknown.

I have watched loved ones die. People I loved very much did not ask me to help them die because they were ready to die; they asked me to just listen to them talk about death.

In the early 1980s, I volunteered for Sésame, an organization that supported people living with AIDS. At that time, most people suffering from AIDS were terminally ill. They did not have the benefit of therapies to help them live longer with the virus without being so sick.

I remember one young man whom I was assisting. During his last days in hospital, he asked me to take him in my arms and to listen to him. Everyone who visited him in the hospital told him that it would be all right, that he would get better, not to worry and that everything would work out. It was not true. It was a lie. They tried to sustain the illusion. He was tired. He was ready to die but he wanted to talk about it openly. He died after telling me that he was ready to die and that he wanted to die, and after I had told him that it was all right and that I accepted that he was ready to die and that he wanted to die. I found it to be a moment of great tenderness and beauty because we had faced reality.

And I think that we are asking for that as well in this bill. Medicine has evolved to the point where people are living to 110, 112 or 115. I tip my hat to those who live to that age and are healthy. However, there are seniors in assisted-living homes who are not able to take care of themselves and who suffer constantly because of cancer or a degenerative disease. We keep them here and help them survive—not live, survive—and we do not give them the chance to choose. I think that this is criminal in a way. It is also a bit sadistic to allow people to suffer. If we know that a person has written a living will and that during their life that person decided they want to die when they are no longer able to stand the pain, I think that we should respect that right.

My colleague's bill establishes very specific guidelines to ensure that no one can go beyond that wish, so that no one, for example, could help a child die, since they would not understand. Nor could you help someone with intellectual disabilities die.

The person who chooses to do this must write their intentions twice in 15 days. It provides a moment to reflect, to take a step back and ask if it is really what they want. This moment ensures that the person makes an informed choice while lucid.

Contrary to what I have read in a number of emails that I have received, I do not believe that this bill will undermine peoples' lives. I do not believe that. I sincerely believe that this bill needs to be passed and studied in committee. It must be passed with all its clauses because they will rule out any mistakes. We cannot go beyond these guidelines.

A few years ago, I saw my grandmother die in the hospital at age 92. She worked hard her whole life. She was an exceptional woman. The year before she was admitted to hospital, she had redone her entire hardwood floor. She sanded and stained it by hand, by herself. She was a strong woman, even at 92.

When she was in the hospital and I went to see her, she told me she was tired. I asked the doctors and nurses how she was doing, how her health was, how she was feeling and what care they were giving her. They replied that she was receiving automatic injections of morphine to relieve her pain. I told myself that since they were giving her morphine, it meant that she was going to die soon. When someone is given morphine, their entire system shuts down. I was told that it was better for her this way.

Doctors and nurses know what they are doing. They know and they do this in certain circumstances in which they are not authorized to do it, but they know that if they do not, the individual will suffer needlessly for several months. These things happen. I think doctors would also be relieved to finally have legislation that allows them to end people's suffering, without facing any accusations.

This bill was drafted by an individual who reflected very carefully on the matter, who met with people and experts from everywhere to talk about and debate the issue, and who helped establish an organization that promotes this issue. I am sure that when she drafted the bill, she did not know that she herself would develop cancer, which she battled so courageously.

As long as one has a life to live and wants to live it, life should go on. However, when an individual can no longer endure the pain they are suffering, I want them to have choices. They should be able to say they want to die with dignity and ask for help in that regard.

Status of Women April 20th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the former minister for Status of Women promised the Conseil d'intervention pour l'accès des femmes au travail, a group working to increase women's access to jobs, that it would receive funding from Status of Women Canada's community fund. However, the group was denied funding.

When the Prime Minister distanced himself from his minister, did he do the same with the promises she made?

Ethics April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the former status of women minister allegedly met with Nazim Gillani, the business partner of her husband, Rahim Jaffer. Mr. Gillani has a shady past and runs an escort agency in Toronto. The simple act of socializing with the owner of an escort agency shows a lack of judgment on the part of the former minister, who had responsibilities for the status of women, I must add, and this justifies her dismissal.

Now the question remains: what were the other reasons that pushed the Prime Minister to call the RCMP?

Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the hon. member's speech. We know that the government has sent the RCMP after a person who had a business dealing with a man suspected of illegal activity, but it is prepared, without restriction, to sign a trade agreement with a corrupt government that is suspected of committing abuses and murdering union leaders. What is wrong with this picture?

Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act April 19th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, is my honourable colleague aware of what is happening in Colombia today? Does he know that one of the biggest scandals to hit the Colombian government has just come to light? The secret police has embarked on a program of disinformation, a program to discredit, scam, fabricate false ties to the guerrillas, falsify documents, sabotage, threaten, blackmail and commit terrorist acts against opposition parties, NGOs, political leaders of the opposition and others in the country. It is scandalous.

Is my colleague aware of this? Does he not wonder why Mercosur—the South American common market encompassing Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay—does not want to do business with Colombia?

I know why. It does not want to do business with Colombia because it is a corrupt country that does not respect human rights.

Ethics April 14th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government refuses to come clean about why it demoted the former minister for the status of women and expelled her from caucus.

The Conservatives will only say that the matter is being investigated; they refuse to say what the member for Simcoe—Grey is alleged to have done. This is a far cry from the transparency they promised. Instead, the Conservatives are trying to cover up the matter, hoping that voters will forget about the scandal, just as they have done with the Afghan detainee file. They are washing their hands of it and turning the matter over to another authority. By doing so, they are leaving the door open to widespread speculation.

Furthermore, the Prime Minister should have used this opportunity to appoint a new minister for the status of women and show some willingness to make progress on women's issues, particularly pay equity and assistance to women's advocacy groups. But the idea likely did not even cross his mind. This shows once again not only his lack of transparency, but also his complete indifference regarding the concerns of women.