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  • Her favourite word is farmers.

NDP MP for Berthier—Maskinongé (Québec)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 42% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Flooding May 15th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, for the past few weeks, residents of Berthier—Maskinongé have been struggling to cope with flooding.

The rising flood waters have had a major impact and caused a lot of damage. Today, I would like to take the time to point out the many initiatives that have been put in place to help flood victims in Berthier—Maskinongé.

This trying time in my riding and throughout Quebec has been met with an outpouring of support and co-operation. Take, for example, SOS Inondation Mauricie, which now has over a hundred volunteers, and Éleveurs de volailles de la Rive-Nord, which bought and distributed rubber boots. Many restaurants also helped by providing volunteers with food and hot drinks. I thank them with all of my heart.

I would like to end by saying that I know that this amazing show of support will continue now that the water levels are starting to drop. I want to assure people that my team and I will be with them on the ground.

Food and Drugs Act May 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to speak to Bill C-291.

I would like to take a few moments to thank emergency services, the armed forces, the municipalities, and the volunteers who are working together everywhere in Berthier—Maskinongé to help people affected by flooding. I thank everyone who has rolled up their sleeves and got to work helping the victims in my region. I know these are very hard times. My thoughts are with all Quebeckers affected by the flooding. People are ready and willing to help their fellow citizens, but there is still a lot of work to do in the coming weeks.

I am proud to support the bill introduced by my colleague from Sherbrooke because it will ensure that Canadian families and consumers know enough to make informed choices.

Canadians have the right to know what is in their food, and one of the best ways to ensure that is through greater transparency in food labelling. For 10 years now, surveys have shown that most Canadians support mandatory GMO labelling. According to a Health Canada study, consumers have not exactly warmed up to GMOs.

The Strategic Counsel got a contract to do a study in March 2016. The study involved 10 focus groups in five Canadian cities, including Quebec, and showed that 78% of Canadians support mandatory GMO labelling. Most of the survey respondents wondered why the government has not moved forward and want more transparency in the food industry. Given the choice, 62% of them would elect to purchase non-genetically modified foods over genetically modified foods.

That is why I support mandatory food labelling, a practice that already exists in several places around the world, such as the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Vermont in the United States.

For years now, the NDP has been arguing for legislation to make the labelling of genetically modified foods mandatory. In fact, my hon. colleague from Victoria moved a similar motion, Motion No. 480, which also advocated for mandatory labelling of GMOs.

That motion was directed at the former government. Today, Bill C-291 calls on the Liberal government to help ensure that Canadians have as much information as possible about genetically modified foods.

A number of stakeholders who are very involved in this movement in Canada worked very hard to emphasize the importance of passing this kind of legislation. They include the Canada Organic Trade Association, Vigilance OGM, the Consumers' Association of Canada, Organic Alberta, and the Quebec chapter of Friends of the Earth.

Many other organizations support the bill sponsored by my colleague from Sherbrooke, including Kids Right to Know, an organization whose objective is to educate young people on their right to make informed, healthy, environmentally conscious decisions by emphasizing proper labelling of genetically modified foods.

I would like to quote an extraordinary and inspiring woman, Rachel Parent, who advocates on behalf of this organization and has been promoting this bill on the mandatory labelling of GMOs.

Parliamentarians should not submit to bogus arguments or be swayed by shoddy pro-industry articles. They should be protecting the public's right to know and choose. Don't buy into the notion that ordinary people have been swayed by “scaremongering” anti-GMO activists. It is simply not the case. People have valid concerns that in any functioning democracy should be addressed.

On another note, the NDP recognizes the importance of scientific research in making fact-based decisions. Scientific research allows us to determine whether scientific advances are safe for public health. Genetically modified organisms have been available in Canada for years and they have undergone rigorous processes.

For now, there is no evidence that they pose any danger to public health or that they lead to health problems. However, we believe that Canadians have the right to make a free and informed choice. With this in mind, we believe it is best for GMO labelling to be mandatory. We also believe we have a duty to keep ensuring we have the most effective means of protecting the public.

I would like to note that the NDP is the only party that has adopted a food strategy. A number of years ago, I had the honour of working on such a strategy with my colleagues Malcolm Allen and Alex Atamanenko. We are very proud of the work we did. Our vision is to connect Canadians from the farm to the fork. Our overall objective is to adopt a federal integrated policy that covers agriculture, rural development, health, and income security.

We maintain that the federal government has a role to play in earning the public's trust in our food system. That is clearly indicated in the Calgary Statement – Towards the Next Policy Framework, a joint federal, provincial, and territorial ministerial statement. Under the next policy framework, labelling must be mandatory, precise, and reliable in order to ensure that the public really understands the information provided.

Furthermore, as agriculture and agrifood critic, I would like to mention that the NDP clearly understands the issue for farmers. Canadian farmers are key players in our economy and food system. They provide us with fresh, high-quality food, and they feed Canadian families. That is why the federal government must continue to invest in our rural communities, innovation, and organic farming in order to address the growing interest of consumers.

In closing, the bill introduced by my colleague from Sherbrooke, Bill C-291, is a sensible, well-thought-out bill that respects the wishes of the community.

When Canadian families gather together to eat, they have the right to know what is on their plates. We have here a perfect opportunity to make that possible, in the form of a mechanism that promotes transparency. I am talking about food labelling.

I hope that my colleagues in the House will support this bill. Canadians can count on us, the NDP, to stand up for their interests because they have a right to have transparent information about their food.

I would also like to quote what the Prime Minister said in December 2016 in answer to a question asked by my colleague from Sherbrooke about mandatory food labelling. That is not very long ago. The Prime Minister said:

This is about protecting consumers. I am hearing consumers say loud and clear that they want to know more about what they are putting in their bodies. This is a good thing. We are working with them.

In closing, I would urge the Prime Minister and all members of the House to think about and support Bill C-291, because it is important that we send it to committee, that we be transparent, and that we give Canadians a choice.

Shipping May 2nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, major flooding is having a huge impact on many municipalities in Berthier—Maskinongé and across Quebec, including Yamachiche. I have two questions today.

First, what does the federal government plan to do to help these people and municipalities?

Second, can the Minister of Transport confirm today that the investigation in Yamachiche has begun and can he tell us when that information will be made public?

International Trade April 11th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the dean of Dalhousie University's faculty of management made it very clear that, if the Liberals really want to help the dairy industry deal with the breach they created with CETA, they must grant tariff quotas to Canadian processors.

Industry stakeholders have been waiting for months for an answer, but the Liberals have left them in limbo. CETA takes effect in less than three months.

Can the Liberals confirm today that they will grant tariff quotas to Canadian processors, yes or no?

Petitions April 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present petition e-513 along with the paper version.

The five drafters of the petition are in the House today. They are Suzan Sidwell, Nicholas Fortier, and François Boubert of Quebec, Peter Bond of New Brunswick, Richard Cripps of Alberta, and Johanne Couture of Ontario.

In all, 6,258 people signed this important petition calling on the House to recognize truckers as road professionals. The petitioners are also calling for standards to apply from sea to sea, taking into account economic disparities, as regards salary, protection from American taxation, benefits, health and safety, and the quality of life for drivers and owner-operators.

I am proud to have sponsored this petition, and I thank all of the petitioners who signed it.

Justice April 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, although I congratulate the government for its investments to help women who are victims of sexual assault, unfortunately the Prime Minister did not answer my question.

By supporting the NDP motion to refer the bill to a committee, the government agreed to support the spirit of the bill. Thus, I hope it agrees with the principle that this training is absolutely necessary.

I do not understand why the Prime Minister cannot answer a simple question.

If the government has concerns about the bill, could he explain them and perhaps propose amendments to the bill?

Justice April 7th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, the NDP secured all-party support to fast-track Bill C-337, put forward by the hon. member for Sturgeon River—Parkland, regarding sexual assault training for judges. Women rarely report sexual assault, and, when they do, sadly the justice system often fails to handle these cases properly.

Unfortunately, the Minister of Status of Women does not appear to support this idea, and it sounds like she is washing her hands of this important piece of legislation.

Could the government please tell the House whether it supports this important bill?

International Trade April 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, Brian Mulroney, who is pushing for the government to put an end to our supply management system, is going to advise the Liberal cabinet on the renegotiation of NAFTA. When it comes to international trade and the protection of our supply management system, the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party are really just one and the same.

At least the compensation provided for by the Conservatives to producers and processors would have been more substantial once the Canada-Europe free trade agreement took effect.

Can the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister confirm to us today that they will grant tariff quotas to Canadian processors?

International Trade March 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, not only is there nothing in the budget for the dairy industry, but also there is still no news on granting tariff quotas under CETA.

We now hear talk about a proposal to resolve the softwood lumber issue by sacrificing our supply management system. That is completely unacceptable. The Liberals already hurt our industry during the negotiations and have yet to come up with fair and equitable compensation. My question is simple:

Can the government confirm today that it will not sacrifice our supply management system or our forestry industry?

Food and Drugs Act March 10th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I sincerely thank my colleague from Sherbrooke for all his work, his bill, and his fight to ensure that there will one day be transparency in Canada's consumer labelling.

Canada has approved the sale of genetically modified salmon, but the salmon at the grocery store all look the same. That is why it is important to have mandatory labelling in Canada for genetically modified products, especially when we know that 80% of Canadians are calling for more transparency.

Can my colleague explain how this works in the United States? Some states require mandatory labelling of genetically modified products.