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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

Jacques Chirac's Statement February 11th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, could the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs inform the members of this House of the important statement made on Monday by Jacques Chirac, the president of the French Republic?

Ice Storm February 3rd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Laval West, I have heard nothing but praise for the work of the military personnel who came from all parts of Canada to work unflaggingly to assist the victims of the ice storm.

Can the Minister of National Defence give us a status report on the situation in Quebec, and the role of the armed forces personnel who will remain in place until the last light is back on?

Immigration December 11th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, major increases in the number of displaced persons have led rich and poor countries to no longer accept refugees.

My question is for the Minister of Immigration. Can the minister guarantee to the House that Canada will continue to accept bona fide refugees who may be persecuted in their own country?

Algeria December 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege to inform this House that last weekend, when they gathered in Quebec City for their biennial convention, the 700 delegates of the Liberal Party of Canada, Quebec Section, unanimously adopted a resolution calling for peace in Algeria.

This resolution was proposed by Liberal supporters from the riding of Laval West, which I have the honour to represent in this House.

Canada plays a leading role in the world for the protection of democracy and of human rights. It is important that this House support international initiatives aiming at stopping these massacres.

Algeria is Canada's main economic partner in Africa. This serious problem has to be raised as quickly as possible before the proper authorities in the United Nations and the European Parliament so that these massacres will stop.

Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Newfoundland) December 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, it is not a question here of presenting just one concept of religion, life or philosophy with a capital P. The object here is to meet the particular needs of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador, which has its own unique character, as do we all in our various provinces.

Within that population, there are groups with particular religious requirements. According to the Minister of Education, who appeared before the committee, the religious instruction to be provided by schools in Newfoundland is very simple. It would present the various concepts of religion, the fundamental values.

But, when it comes to fundamental values, I would like my colleague to tell me how the values of Roman Catholics are different from those of members of the Pentecostal Church, or those of the Jewish faith. We all have values that are recognized as being humanitarian values respecting the rights of others.

Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Newfoundland) December 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, the question my hon. colleague has asked is a fundamental one. It is my opinion, having worked for a number of years in favour of minority rights, in Quebec in particular, that where values are concerned, these do not differ regardless of our religion or nationality. Whether Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Pentecostal or Roman Catholic, there is no difference. I sincerely believe that all people share the same values with respect to the fundamental rights of Canadians and the right to religion and the vital element of respect of others.

Where Newfoundland is concerned, what its Minister of Education told us very clearly is that his department, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, were prepared to allow parents so desiring, not only religious instruction but also that “religious observances shall be permitted in a school where requested by parents”. That is a direct quote from term 17, as proposed by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is therefore seen as willing, not to teach just anything, but to respond to the specific needs of parents on the one hand and to comply with the fundamental values accepted by all religions with members in Newfoundland and Labrador on the other.

Amendment To The Constitution Of Canada (Newfoundland) December 8th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, allow me to add my voice and speak in this debate on the proposed amendment to term 17 of the Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada.

This is not the first time that this matter is brought to our attention. I will therefore limit my comments to particular aspects of this debate, whose final stage is beginning in this House.

The discussions around this issue these past few years clearly show that the vast majority of Newfoundlanders want to reform their education system.

This is the context in which, in 1990, the Government of Newfoundland appointed a royal commission chaired by Dr. Len Williams, a former teacher, principal and president of the provincial teachers association.

In its report published two years later, the royal commission specifically recommended restructuring the education system in Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition, one of its recommendations concerned the establishment of a single interdenominational school system comprising the four separate denominational systems already in place.

Seen as a compromise, an initial amendment to term 17 approved by the people in a referendum two years ago was unable to rally all stakeholders in the Newfoundland educational community.

In addition, an injunction which was sought by representatives of the catholic church was granted by the Newfoundland supreme court. The consequence of the injunction was that it stalled the entire education reform process in the province.

We know what happened next. On July 31 Premier Tobin announced that a referendum would be held and in that public consultation 73% of Newfoundlanders supported the proposed amendment to term 17. This proposal carried in 47 of the 48 ridings in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The debate on the Newfoundland school issue is not a new one. Discussions, at times heated and passionate, have been going on for some time. That is why all I can tell those who claim that the people of Newfoundland had but a few days to read the question is that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have in fact been discussing this issue for years. It is perfectly normal for any religious minority to try to protect its rights and to get the best possible protection for its rights. And its officials have a duty to do so.

I believe however that the constitutional amendment proposal received from the Newfoundland government does not threaten in any way the situation of the various religious denominations in that province.

I must stress the fact that this amendment is in no way intended to ban religious education from the classroom in Newfoundland.

On the contrary, it ensures that religious education will be provided because, and I quote “religious observances shall be permitted in a school where requested by parents”. That is what subsection 17.3 proposes.

It is true that the new text specifies that religious instruction will be of a non-denominational nature. Nevertheless the new term respects the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international human rights conventions. I would like to insist on the fact that it in no way forces children to take courses or to follow religious practices to which their parents would object.

The Government of Newfoundland has told us that it is open to the role the churches are called on to play in the new education system. Although the attribution of that role is not guaranteed in the constitution it does not diminish its importance.

The substantial support garnered by the proposal should convince everyone of the merit of this initiative, which does not aim to give one denomination an advantage over another but simply to give the Government of Newfoundland the opportunity to provide the province's children with a better quality of education.

We do not negate, quite the contrary, that children already receive a good education. However we have been told that the books in the schools date back to 1975. One of the witnesses told us that she found in the library at her child's school that its most recent book on the history of Canada dated back to 1975. Obviously a great deal of reform needs to be done to that system.

Some people expressed concerns about minority rights and their protection under the proposed amendment. The hearings of the special joint committee on the amendment to term 17 nevertheless revealed to the members of the committee looking into the matter that these concerns were not shared by the people representing various organizations.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association rightly stressed the protection enjoyed by the various religious groups under section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Fédération des parents francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador was satisfied with the protection afforded it under section 23 of the charter with respect to its language rights and with the policy of the Newfoundland government in this regard.

The president of the Labrador Metis Association endorsed the constitutional amendment. The committee's report indicates that nothing in the proposal would threaten native rights.

Our government is delighted by the clear support for this amendment by the people of Newfoundland. We believe that the consultation process was fair, that the aim of this proposition was clear to all, that the question put to the public in the September 2 referendum contained no ambiguity and that ample support has been gathered for the amendment.

Newfoundlanders and their government's request before parliament is a reflection of their will to move ahead on this matter. Our government believes it has a duty to support this initiative, not only because of the popular support the proposal has obtained but in particular because Newfoundlanders, with the support of parliament, will be able to count on an education system that will reflect their specificity and take account of their priorities in this area.

Young Newfoundlanders will be the first to benefit.

I also see in this question one more testimonial to the flexibility of our federation. I am the member for Laval West, and we are well aware of the questions with which attempts are made to divide people on constitutional issues.

The bilateral amendment process will make it possible for Newfoundland to reform its education system. This is the same process which should enable Quebec to carry out its own education reforms, once the Senate has made its decision.

Our political system thus enables each partner in our federation to have tools adapted to its own needs.

For all these reasons, I invite my colleagues in this House to vote in favour of this constitutional amendment aimed at putting into place a unique Newfoundland school system.

The Late Michel Bélanger December 3rd, 1997

Mr. Speaker, we were distressed to learn yesterday of the death of Michel Bélanger, who finally lost his long battle with an incurable illness.

Mr. Bélanger is one of the great Quebeckers devoted to the service of their country with a vision of the future that arose from a knowledge and a great understanding of the history of Quebec and Canada.

Universally respected in the worlds of business and politics, Mr. Bélanger was always keen to contribute to the workings of government. He also wanted to ensure that our society continued to evolve as it had, because it was clear to him that Quebec was meant to be within Canada.

We are all aware of Mr. Bélanger's contribution from the start of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec to the present. In both the public and private sectors he acted with vision, wisdom and reason.

Canada has lost a formidable ally and builder. Our condolences—

Immigration November 28th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

The government is being criticized because potential immigrants are allegedly discouraged from coming to Canada because they cannot afford the landing fees.

Can the parliamentary secretary explain to this House what steps she is taking to help those people who cannot afford the landing fees?

Christmas Basket Campaign November 28th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, as in previous years, the Laval Volunteer Centre is organizing again this year the 13th edition of its Christmas Basket Campaign, and has set as its goal to collect 500 tonnes of food.

The purpose of this operation is to provide assistance to families who are going through serious economic difficulties because, of illness, bankruptcy or job loss, for example.

By enlisting the co-operation of 600 businesses and with the commitment of 1,400 volunteers and the contributions of the population of Laval, the centre expects to distribute 1,300 food baskets to about 4,000 persons on Sunday, December 21.

There are also in these families children and young people who, unfortunately, cannot enjoy some of the simple pleasures they so justly deserve.

Therefore, the Laval Volunteer Centre also organizes a large campaign to collect new toys so that these children too can enjoy Christmas.

In conclusion, I congratulate the organizers of this important charitable event and I encourage Canadians everywhere in Canada to also become involved in their own community.