House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Trois-Rivières (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2011, with 24% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Oil Sands December 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Royal Society of Canada has just released a report on oil sands development, which criticizes the federal government's lack of action. The report states that the federal government is failing to demonstrate leadership and does not recognize the considerable risk this industry poses to the environment.

Does the government not think that a good place to start would be to stop subsidizing oil companies and their dirty oil and, instead, invest these billions of dollars in the development of green energy?

Foreign Affairs December 10th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Foreign Affairs has temporarily closed the Canadian embassy in Haiti because of the current environment of political and social unrest.

Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us what is being done to maintain a minimum level of diplomatic service and, most importantly, continue activities to reunite families?

The Environment December 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, does the Minister of Natural Resources, a member from Quebec, realize that he is going against Quebec's interests by acting as the lobbyist for the oil companies and sabotaging the efforts by Quebec industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Is he not ashamed to have been elected in Quebec and now to be defending the interests of Alberta oil companies at Quebec's expense? As we say back home, this minister is a turncoat.

The Environment December 7th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources seems to be unaware that it is possible to strike a balance between environmental protection and economic development. By going to Chicago to lobby for dirty oil from the oil sands, he has clearly shown that he is on the oil companies' side.

In light of Canada's poor performance in the battle against climate change, should the Minister of Natural Resources not be concentrating his efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions rather than on increasing the production and export of oil from the oil sands?

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

He is right; how can we believe the government? If the past is any indication, we really have to wonder. When someone goes back on their word three times, that is worrisome.

The basic principle is that this House must make decisions on behalf of the people. We are duly elected. In my riding, like all of the others, there are soldiers who have gone to Afghanistan and who have returned. Some, unfortunately, returned seriously injured and it is hard for their families to see them like this.

We believe that it is important for the House to make these decisions, so that we can explain to our constituents that we were fully aware of the consequences. Furthermore, we think it is important that the House be able to debate and vote on this issue.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Madam Speaker, my fellow member and I disagree about the training aspect of this mission. We are saying that the Canadian government may well send 950 soldiers in good faith, but this will still be a combat mission. According to General Hillier, even if all we do is train soldiers, we will still have to take those soldiers to battle stations to test the techniques. We do not believe that this mission will consist of only training. We believe that it will be yet another combat mission and that lives will be lost. In my view, it is very important to make a distinction between these two things. As we have seen, the French training mission, which involved soldiers, resulted in 50 deaths.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the Bloc Québécois motion on this opposition day. I would like to reread the motion:

That this House condemn the government’s decision to unilaterally [the word “unilaterally” is very important here] extend the Canadian mission in Afghanistan to 2014, whereby it is breaking two promises it made to Canadians, one made on May 10, 2006, in this House and repeated in the 2007 Throne Speech, that any military deployment would be subject to a vote in Parliament, and another made on January 6, 2010, that the mission in Afghanistan would become a strictly civilian commitment after 2011, without any military presence beyond what would be needed to protect the embassy.

What are we supposed to think about the change in the Conservative government's position now? In its 2006 election platform, the Conservative government told us the following:

A Conservative government will...make Parliament responsible for exercising oversight over...the commitment of Canadian Forces to foreign operations.

In the 2007 Speech from the Throne, the government reiterated its intention to let the House of Commons decide. In 2008, the House voted to extend the mission, but until 2011 only. We could say that the Conservative government is somewhat like St. Peter, who denied Christ three times by breaking his word three times. The military mission in Afghanistan will continue without debate, except for the debate raised by the Bloc Québécois today, and without a vote in the House. In our view, excluding all parliamentarians from this major issue is denying the democratic principles that should underlie all the work in the House.

The former chief of the defence staff for the Canadian Forces, General Rick Hillier, stated that it is impossible to train soldiers without monitoring them on the ground, meaning in the combat zone. It seems that the so-called new Afghan mission will not focus on humanitarian or training activity, but rather military activity, which we are opposed to.

Is there such a thing as training without combat? The Conservative government announced that it will keep a contingent of 950 soldiers in Afghanistan to train the future Afghan army. It was quick to say that Canadian soldiers will not be involved in combat during their training activities. Can we trust the government? Is it telling us the truth?

General Hillier, who is after all the former chief of the defence staff, said that to provide training, our troops will have to go into the field of combat. We think the government’s argument is window dressing. It must not be forgotten that General Hillier has a great deal of credibility. He led the NATO troops in Afghanistan and is very familiar with the reality in the field. I am strongly inclined to believe what he says about the operational requirements for military training. We can trust him because he has been there and has led the troops.

As one telling example, French troops present in Afghanistan are engaged in military training. That has not prevented them from suffering loss of life. What can we learn from the French forces' training mission? This is an important example to take into consideration now that we are obliged to make such a serious decision.

Since 2002, France has participated in training the Afghan national army. This initiative is called Opération Épidote, and its purpose is to train Afghan officers, battalions and special forces. This is what Canada is about to go and do. As part of this operation, teams of advisors and instructors embedded in operational units of the Afghan army coach and advise the Afghans in all of their combat missions and instructions.

How many French soldiers have died? As of October 15, 2010, 50 French soldiers had died in Afghanistan. In August 2010, two French soldiers were killed in Afghanistan while participating in the joint counter-insurgency operation with the Afghan army. On June 19, 2010, another soldier was killed by insurgent artillery fire while at a combat post. A French parachutist was killed on June 7, 2010, during a NATO mission. Nine other NATO soldiers were killed during that mission. On January 12, 2010, two French soldiers were killed while patrolling the Alasay valley. They were taking part in an international mission coaching the Afghan army.

I do not think anyone can tell me that there is no risk involved in these coaching missions.

On September 6, 2009, another French soldier was killed by an explosive device while participating in a reconnaissance convoy.

All of these examples illustrate the crux of the problem: how dangerous is a training mission? A training mission on a battlefield is dangerous and deadly.

The Bloc Québécois humbly suggests the following position to the House: the Bloc believes that Canada has done its part on the military front and that its role can be taken up by allied countries. As a state participating in the London and Kabul conferences, Canada must oversee a transition that is as peaceful and safe as possible to full assumption of control by the Afghan state. We are not shirking our responsibilities, for we are stakeholders in this, but not at any price.

The Bloc Québécois therefore proposes a three-pronged approach: first, support and training for the police forces and assistance in establishing the penal and administrative justice system; second, review and maintenance of official development assistance; and third, reconciliation and integration.

When we talk about military presence and technical support, what do we mean? We mean that the combat group must terminate its combat mission in July 2011 along with the provincial reconstruction team. That team of soldiers is responsible for protecting the NGOs. However, the majority of NGOs want the provincial reconstruction team to withdraw because they believe that the presence of troops is incompatible with their humanitarian mission.

The training of Afghan police officers has taken a back seat to the training of Afghan soldiers. However, a strong police presence is crucial to the proper functioning of society. The Bloc Québécois therefore recommends sending a contingent of 50 police officers to train Afghan police forces.

As for creating a modern judicial system, we believe that trust in that system is one of the fundamental elements of a lawful society. NATO has taught us that the Afghans prize the system’s notion of fairness and prefer the use of the informal system, as the formal governmental system is perceived as highly corrupt. To ensure adequate training and proper functioning of the Afghan judicial system, the Bloc Québécois proposes sending a delegation of Canadian legal experts to support and promote the modernization of the judicial system. These are some training aspects that are not military in nature.

We must also support the prison system. By all accounts, the Afghan prison system has some serious shortcomings, as demonstrated by the Afghan detainee issue and allegations of torture in Afghan prisons.

According to NATO, by western standards, conditions in many detention and correction facilities vary from inadequate to extremely poor in some places. We suggest that the directors of Afghan prisons be supported by Canadian deputy directors. We therefore recommend sending 50 civilians from our correctional system.

Lastly, we also propose the creation of a public service. A public service like the one we have in Quebec does not exist in Afghanistan and must therefore be created.

The take-home message is that we need to hold a vote in the House on the government's decision and proceed democratically. That is our main message.

National Tree Day November 24th, 2010

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this motion that would create a national tree day.

As the Bloc's natural resources critic, I am absolutely in favour of the substance of this motion. However, it is surprising that this was the initiative of a member of the Conservative government, which is running the country with little regard for environmental considerations. The resignation a few weeks ago of the member for Calgary Centre-North, who was the Minister of the Environment, says a lot about how important the environment is to this government. For them, it is just not worth the trouble.

Forests are a critical resource in Quebec. Quebeckers truly value our forestry industry. Our ancestors built this country from a lush forest that they had to conquer. Quebeckers are still proud of having parcels of land that no human has ever set foot on. That shared resource is priceless.

Forests covering more than 760,000 square kilometres—three times the area of France—are a renewable resource that we must develop responsibly.

As hon. members know, trees purify our air. Canadian forests capture almost 40 megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year, and the equivalent of 900 years of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions are stored there without it costing us a penny. The forest ecosystem is also one of the richest and is host to a multitude of endangered species.

Even though Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol, the government keeps changing the targets and the reference years to mislead the public. By doing so, it is demonstrating its utter indifference to this problem. It will let future generations suffer the consequences.

Nearly 80% of the clean energy fund will go to carbon capture and storage programs, a technology whose benefits have not yet been proven. Again, the government is denying the problem and investing massively for its friends, the oil companies in the west, instead of addressing the source of problem, carbon dioxide emissions.

The Conservative government has a bad habit of sticking to a dogmatic, narrow-minded, regressive ideology. In the name of the economy and the free market, the Conservatives too often tend to forget the virtues of a healthy environment, and forget that savings can be made in the medium and long terms by investing in emerging sectors.

Researchers in wind and solar energy are sounding the alarm. If this trend continues, Canada will fall so far behind in these technologies of the future that soon we will have to depend on outside expertise for implementing new green energies. Despite studies that show the profitability of the ecoEnergy programs, the government continues to stick to its ideology and its financial supporters in Alberta. The oil companies get significant tax breaks and they also get public relations services paid for out of the public purse. Climate Action Network Canada has denounced this and shown that Canada has lobbied to promote dirty energy on the world stage at our expense. What more can I say?

Beyond its environmental benefits, the forest is a resource that provides jobs to Quebeckers. I know what I am talking about because my riding was an international hub for pulp and paper. The workers are proud of their responsible approach to exploiting this resource.

Unfortunately, the forestry industry is going through one of the worst crises in its history. Since 2003, no less than 300 plants have closed their doors. Quebec has been hit the worst by this crisis. Since April 2005, more than 26,000 jobs have been lost in the forestry industry alone in Quebec, not to mention the related industries and services such as transportation or forestry equipment. This represents half the job losses in Canada in this sector.

These job losses have had disastrous consequences for Quebec communities. Nearly half of Canada's forestry communities are in Quebec. In fact, 230 cities and towns depend mainly on the forestry industry; 160 of them depend exclusively on forestry.

The future of these cities—entire regions, even—is uncertain.

Some regions in Quebec have been devastated. Since the summer of 2004, 44% of forestry jobs in my region of Mauricie have been lost, 58% in the Upper Laurentians, 42% in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 36% in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and 34% on the north shore.

Declining property values in these areas combined with chronic high unemployment and geographic isolation for the most part are pushing youth to leave. Some leave to study and others have no choice if they want to survive. Despite their strong desire to return to their region and settle down, the economic situation forces them to go to large centres.

These regions are emptying out. Young people are not coming back because there are no jobs. People are worried.

Nearly 5,000 people joined in the green march in Ville-Marie, Témiscamingue, on November 8. The participants hoped to spur governments to intervene and help the region, which is facing serious economic difficulty, notably in the forestry sector.

This was an unprecedented demonstration for a region of nearly 20,000 citizens and it demonstrates their anger and exasperation.

It is clear that the Conservatives are mainly to blame for the suffering in many parts of Quebec. The government's latest budget showed that the Conservatives are out of touch with Quebeckers.

It is unacceptable that the Conservative government injected 57 times more money into Ontario's auto industry than into the forest industry, which has had to make do with crumbs.

Clearly, the Conservatives are excited about potential election gains in southern Ontario and are literally obsessed with winning a majority in Parliament. This obsession with election glory leaves very little room for concern about the public interest.

I can appreciate that my Canadian colleagues do not agree with Quebeckers' collective desire for emancipation and sovereignty. But they should perhaps give some thought to what the Bloc Québécois is calling for.

Canada's forest industry urgently needs to be modernized, and the only way to modernize is by investing in technology and new equipment. To invest, the industry needs cash, which it does not have. It will need to borrow in order to modernize. In response to this need, the 2010 budget provides for an accelerated capital cost allowance, but what good is that if a company cannot borrow for new equipment in the first place because it has no loan guarantees? How can the company get access to credit? As usual, the Conservatives preferred to turn a deaf ear to Quebec's demands.

The budget also provides $25 million a year for the next four years to modernize all lumber and pulp and paper mills. This ridiculous amount shows how incompetent the government is, because a single machine can cost $25 million.

I repeat, the Bloc Québécois supports this motion. Forests are a sensitive issue for Quebeckers, and their survival is vital to the survival of the human race. Jurisdictions are another sensitive issue for Quebeckers. To us, our capital is Quebec City and the National Assembly is our parliament. It is important to remember that managing natural resources is a provincial jurisdiction.

Moreover, Quebec's forest industry is teeming with ideas and is clearly determined to recover from the crisis. But the industry needs cash to rebound. The federal biofuel programs may be worthwhile, but secondary industry takes healthy primary industry. A plant cannot become more energy efficient if it is no longer open.

To us, forests are an abundant renewable resource. It is sad that the government's priority is to abandon our leadership position in this industry.

Hydroelectricity November 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, helping fund the construction of an underwater cable would be the first step towards creating a trans-Canada electricity distribution network without Quebec's consent.

Can the Minister of Natural Resources assure us that they will not directly or indirectly fund a trans-Canada electricity distribution network without Quebec's consent?

Hydroelectricity November 22nd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have asked the federal government for $375 million to fund an underwater cable in order to bypass Quebec and deliver electricity to the American market. By agreeing to fund such a project, the government would use part of Quebeckers' taxes to create unfair competition for Quebec.

Does the government intend to be clear and refuse to directly or indirectly fund an undersea cable to bypass Quebec?