House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Laval—Les Îles (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2008, with 40% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, income security is an extremely sensitive issue. We have made representations to several ministers. I have done so myself, to enable all Canadians to have access to this program automatically.

At the time, we were told it was too complicated. I never understood that answer. It seems to me that today, in the 21st century, we can work miracles with computers. I firmly believe, as my colleague does, that when it comes to income security, the people who are entitled to it should receive it automatically.

The Budget March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the member to our committee. I say “our committee” because I have been sitting on it for a long time and I hope that she will have the chance to sit on it because it does a great deal of work. The report on poverty, to which I have referred, is the first of its kind in the House of Commons. It took a long time to produce it. We met with hundreds of people right across Canada.

Although I care a great deal for the people of Saskatchewan, we all need to look beyond one province and look to the population of all of Canada from sea to sea to sea.

The Budget March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share my time with the member for Mount Royal.

I rise today in the House to take part in the debate in response to this government’s very disappointing budget.

The media, the business and academic communities have all reached the same conclusion as we have on this side of the House. This is a lame duck budget and we give it a failing grade.

This budget is being called “a kind of half-hearted effort, incremental in nature, designed for political effect”.

These are not my words, these are the words of Christopher Dunn, an academic at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. He went on to say that there was some nominal social spending targeted at specific voters to “leave an impression of a government that hadn't forgot about average voters without actually doing that much for them”.

The official opposition leader put it very succinctly in his question to the government yesterday when he said:

Mr. Speaker, spending billions of dollars on stealth fighters, corporate tax cuts and mega prisons means the Canadian family has to be shortchanged.

There is nothing in the budget on affordable housing. There is nothing in it on child care. There is nothing to support our health system. These are the priorities of Canadian families.

Why is the Prime Minister out of touch and out of control?

How does the government fail to support Canadian seniors? On page 109 of the budget document, low income seniors are expected to get a guaranteed income supplement of $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. Single recipients with an annual income, other than old age security and guaranteed income supplement, of $2,000 or less, and couples with an annual income of $4,000 or less will get the full amount of the benefit.

What is shocking about this is that the government is not making these increases permanent given that the benefit will be clawed back when the annual income level reaches $4,000 for singles and $7,360 for couples.

Residents in my riding of Laval—Les Îles pointed out to me that in real dollars, eligible seniors would receive exactly $1.20 per day. Obviously the Prime Minister has not gone grocery shopping for a long time. Otherwise, he would have noticed that milk costs $3.79 and sometimes up to $5.00. So, $1.20 will not even be enough to buy a quart of milk.

Let us imagine the Prime Minister or any of his cabinet members trying to live on that type of income with bread an average $3 a loaf; eggs, $2.69 a dozen; apples at $3.34 a kilogram; canned salmon at $3.15 for 213 grams. These were average prices in 2010.

What is the government's real commitment to supporting families and communities? The budget documents says:

The Government recognizes the contributions seniors have made and is committed to ensuring that they continue to have a good quality of life.

I am quoting the finance minister's own words.

Let me congratulate the finance minister and his team for co-opting my private member's bill, Bill C-481, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code (mandatory retirement age), which was reported to Parliament last Monday, as one of their priorities within the budget.

The budget indicated that the government clearly supports my bill, since the Minister of Finance wrote on page 112 of that document that:

The government proposes to introduce amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code to prohibit federally regulated employers from setting a mandatory retirement age unless there is a bona fide occupational requirement. This would allow Canadians to choose how long they wish to remain active in the labour force. The government will review other acts to further this objective.

If the government truly believes what it says, why does it want to introduce a new bill when my private member's bill has already gone through committee?

Why the delaying tactics? I strongly urge the government to pass the legislation through Parliament and the Senate as quickly as possible, instead of waiting to create a new piece of legislation. Let me take the opportunity at this time to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour, members of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities and my colleagues on both sides of the House for their support in getting this bill as far as it has gone in the legislative process.

I want to remind the government that the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, on which I am a member, undertook a major study on poverty in Canada. The report, which contained 59 recommendations, was tabled in the House on November 17, 2010. How did the minister respond? The government's response was to refuse every recommendation the committee proposed and it is a government that purports to value families.

The budget could have been a golden opportunity to state clearly that the government would immediately implement recommendation 3.1.1 of the standing committee's report and put in place a federal action plan to reduce poverty in Canada. Instead, we have a budget that ignores families and a budget that ignores children. Canadian parents are still waiting on the promised 250,000 child care spaces for their children, which have never materialized.

A Liberal government will return corporate tax rates to 2010 levels and tackle the deficit while strengthening Canadian families with investments in the following measures: a real family care plan, with a six-month family care EI benefit, and a new refundable tax benefit for working families worth up to $1,350 per year.

The Conservative budget provides no EI benefits, but rather a paltry tax credit that does nothing for low-income caregivers and is worth only $300 a year.

We are also proposing improvements to public pensions, by strengthening the base Canada Pension Plan with gradual increases to benefits and creating an option for topping-up savings with a new supplemental CPP, instead of just a modest GIS benefit that works out to only $1.20 per eligible senior a day.

The Liberals are also proposing support for learning and training, so that all Canadians who get the grades can get the skills they need to get quality, full-time jobs, instead of the paltry $34 per student that the Conservative government is offering. We are proposing quality, affordable early learning and child care, to give our kids the head start they need by offering working families a real choice when they need to find child care spaces for their kids.

What does the Conservative budget propose? It is offering just $75 per year for art classes.

My colleagues and I fully intend to vote against this budget.

Ethics March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we do not have to make it up. The facts are awful as they stand.

Mr. Speaker, Bruce Carson did it all: chief of staff for the Prime Minister, special advisor to environment minister Jim Prentice and special advisor to the last two ministers of natural resources, including the Prime Minister's Quebec lieutenant. Mr. Carson even drafted a bill that would have given him access to part of the $1.6 billion allocated to the first nations.

And the Prime Minister had no idea what was going on? How can Canadians believe that?

Ethics March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Bill S-11 would give the Conservatives the power to impose their solution for drinking water on the first nations. Telling the first nations that they are not competent to make that decision for themselves is insulting enough. Through this scheme, Mr. Carson's fiancée allegedly pocketed $80 million in commissions for selling water filtration systems.

Are they not ashamed of profiting from the misfortune of the first nations?

Ethics March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the member also met with the RCMP.

Mr. Carson acted as a witness to a contract stipulating that 20% of the sales from water-filtration systems in cultural communities would be paid to his fiancée. She stood to gain up to $80 million from the contract. Oddly enough, Mr. Carson allegedly met with his Conservative minister friends to discuss access to clean drinking water in aboriginal communities.

Did the Conservatives fill Ms. McPherson's hope chest at the expense of the first nations?

Ethics March 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the Conservatives' electoral fraud, the RCMP is now investigating Bruce Carson, the Prime Minister's former chief of staff.

How can a man who was disbarred as a lawyer and imprisoned for fraud become the Prime Minister's chief of staff?

The Minister of the Environment allegedly discussed files pertaining to safe drinking water for aboriginal communities with Mr. Carson in violation of lobbying laws.

Was the Minister of the Environment also reported to the RCMP?

Democratic Development March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on March 20, the whole world celebrated La Francophonie. Today we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Unfortunately, the Conservative government has ignored these two events.

Canada has cut funding for Canadian organizations that work to promote democracy, and has abandoned the project that was to create an agency to promote democracy abroad.

In the current international context, African countries, including some that belong to La Francophonie, are most in need of help with creating and strengthening their democracies.

The government's lack of action suggests a withdrawal from the international Francophonie and a policy that discriminates against Africa, made worse by the removal of many African countries from the international priority list for assistance.

I am asking the Conservatives to stop this discriminatory policy and to free up the money required to respect the commitments that have already been made to democratic development.

Government Communications March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, there is no end to the arrogance of this Prime Minister. The Conservatives wanted to limit the privileges of this House. They use government resources to engage in politicking. They even engineered a major electoral fraud. And now the Prime Minister wants officials to no longer refer to the Government of Canada, but to the “H government” instead.

The Government of Canada does not belong to him; Canada does not belong to him either. Does the Prime Minister understand that what he is doing is an abuse of power and that he is insulting all Canadians?

International Women's Day March 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. I would like to congratulate the women of my riding, Laval—Les Îles, the women of Canada and women around the world who fight for equality, peace and liberty. The world has witnessed the strength of their vision and their tenacity. Women are standing up, side by side, against authoritarian governments in places like Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and now Libya.

The message is clear: one century later, women are fed up. They are demanding that governments meet their millennium development goals immediately.

Here in Canada, a century later, this is what women are telling the Conservative government: stop cutting funding to NGOs that provide assistance to women and children; advance the rights of women and girls by approving safe reproductive rights; protect women and enable them to retain their dignity by supporting safe abortion practices, especially in cases of violence and rape.

Equality means dignity.