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Crucial Fact

  • Her favourite word was farmers.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Berthier—Maskinongé (Québec)

Lost her last election, in 2021, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-86, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures.

The bill has made it to report stage. This is a mammoth bill that is more than 851 pages long. It is truly a massive omnibus bill.

If we combine this bill with the 2008 budget, that makes more than 1,400 pages of legislative changes that all members of the House have to study.

We have said many times that bills like Bill C-86 should be split so that all members of the House have enough time to debate and study them. When bills are this big, it is easy to hide things in them.

In 2015, the Liberals promised to do things differently. When the Conservatives were in power, they had a habit of introducing mammoth omnibus bills. During the election campaign, the Liberals said they would be different and everyone could trust them. However, right after they were elected, back in 2015, they started introducing omnibus bills.

When a government drafts a budget, it makes choices and sets priorities. We are really very disappointed with Bill C-86. More and more, people are hoping the government will enact measures to change their lives for the better. As the NDP sees it, the Liberals have missed that opportunity.

As everyone knows, Canada is a rich country. The gap between Canada's richest people and the rest of the population has never been wider. We believe that that is utterly unacceptable in 2018. Two Canadian billionaires own as much as 11 million Canadians.

Oxfam released a report revealing that the eight richest men own the same wealth as half of humanity.

About 4 million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, live in homes that struggle to put food on the table. Last week, following our weekly caucus meeting, I was able to go back to my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé to attend a Noël du pauvre fundraising dinner in Yamachiche. Volunteers work throughout the year to raise money so that families and children get Christmas hampers.

I would like to recognize the work of organizing committee chair Pierrette Plante and honorary chair Father Julio César Duran. A total of 550 people attended this dinner, which raised nearly $16,000 to help local residents in need.

We are pleased to see that Bill C-86 contains poverty reduction targets. Unfortunately, those targets are not accompanied by appropriate measures or funding so that they can be met.

The Liberals have ideas and targets, but they are not making any new investments to meet those targets. There is a poverty crisis in Canada. People are living in hardship and misery. There are still people struggling to make ends meet at the end of the month.

The important thing in this bill is pay equity. Women have been waiting for pay equity for over 42 years. It is a promise that was made by the Liberals. However, once again, we are waiting. The Liberals like to consult, but what it really boils down to is that they are buying time. They are still consulting about pay equity, when we really need it today.

Another thing we were hoping to find in the bill was a federal measure to tax web giants, but the bill contains no such measure. We are also calling on the government to put an end to pension theft and to give Canada a national child care strategy.

I had my son when I was a teenager, and at the time, it cost me $55 a day to send him to daycare. I had to take out additional loans so I could continue my studies and send my son to daycare. We need a Canada-wide child care system to help families, especially single parents.

Furthermore, we want stronger action to address tax havens, and we also want EI sickness benefits to be extended from 15 weeks to 50. There is a good public awareness campaign on that topic. I will come back to that. We also want a universal pharmacare system.

In addition, we want the needs of indigenous communities to be met, particularly with regard to access to safe drinking water and funding for educational institutions in their communities, which receive less funding than other institutions in the country. Lastly, we want assistance for rural regions.

Regarding the duration of EI sickness benefits, which we want to be extended from 15 weeks to 50, it is important to highlight the work of Marie-Hélène Dubé, who launched a petition called “15 weeks to heal is not enough!”. Half a million Canadians signed that petition calling on the federal government to take action, but we have heard nothing but radio silence so far in response. It is very frustrating.

In 2016, the Prime Minister himself and the Minister of Social Development promised to take action and extend the benefit period. In 2014, the Prime Minister even voted in favour of Bill C-291, which would have extended EI sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 50.

The government needs to walk the talk. Sick people need time to take care of themselves. They do not have time to fight. That is why we continue to pressure the federal government to extend EI sickness benefits.

I represent the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, which includes the RCMs of Maskinongé and Berthier, as well as three municipalities in the RCM of Matawinie. I travel quite a bit across my riding, and people stop me to talk about the importance of having a national connectivity strategy, which is something we do not currently have at the federal level.

Access to high-speed broadband Internet is vital to strengthening Canada's social and economic fabric. Some businesses really struggle with connectivity issues. I know a business owner in Maskinongé who pays two ISPs and never knows which of the two will work when he needs it. When one does not work, he tries the other.

We have long called for a national connectivity strategy. Although the government offers programs and money from time to time, this is not enough. We need a Canada-wide strategy to connect Canada and Quebec to the Internet.

I should point out that a cell network strategy is needed as well. In my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, people from Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc to Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé tell me how important cell coverage is. The mayor of Saint-Édouard-de-Maskinongé, Réal Normandin, has spoken to me about this, because people in his village have a hard time getting cell reception. The community of Saint-Élie-de-Caxton, the hometown of Fred Pellerin, is in the same boat.

At a coffee meeting last week in Lavaltrie, Sylvie Legault and Gilles Auclair collected signatures for a petition about the 34 homes on the Point-du-Jour concession that have no Internet access and limited cell network access. Lavaltrie is not far from Montreal. These people are calling for a national Internet access and cell network strategy.

We had hoped to find all kinds of good things in Bill C-89, but the NDP will have to oppose this bill, since it does not do enough to address pay equality. Women have been fighting for far too long for the right to equal pay for equal work.

This bill also does not do enough to help rural areas get access to the Internet and the cell network. We also need to improve the pharmacare system. In short, there are many reasons why we will be voting against Bill C-86.

Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 November 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, one issue that has been brought up and fought for by many people across Canada and unions is pay equity. People have been fighting for over 40 years to have this come to fruition. During my colleague's speech, he talked about the importance of having that brought forward. However, once again, with what has been put forward in this piece of legislation, women will have to wait another four years. Can he explain why, in 2018, we still have to wait to have pay equity?

Canada Post November 23rd, 2018

The Liberals' back-to-work legislation is terrible, and how they are going about passing it is even worse.

In 2011, the Conservatives at least let us debate the bill. With Motion No. 25, the Liberals are telling us that they learned from Harper's mistakes and that, this, time, the opposition will not get to debate it.

We have had five times more time to debate Motion No. 25, which is stifling debate, than to debate the bill itself. A day and a half for the motion and three and a half hours for the actual bill.

Why are the Liberals using Conservative tactics and forcing us to vote in the middle of the night on a bill that violates workers' rights?

Agriculture and Agrifood November 19th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I marched with my NDP colleagues and more than 5,000 people in Montreal in support of local food and to speak out against the fact that agriculture is being used as a bargaining chip in trade agreements. Farmers have been clear: the lack of reciprocity in standards and the concessions that have been made in trade agreements are a direct attack on our food sovereignty.

Can the government tell us today what it intends to do to stop abusing our food producers in Quebec?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns November 5th, 2018

With regard to federal spending in the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, for each fiscal year since 2014, inclusively: what are the details of all grants and contributions and all loans to every organization, group, business or municipality, broken down by the (i) name of the recipient, (ii) municipality of the recipient, (iii) date on which the funding was received, (iv) amount received, (v) department or agency that provided the funding, (vi) program under which the grant, contribution or loan was made, (vii) nature or purpose?

Employment November 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, almost three years ago, my colleague from Windsor West asked the minister to ensure that Canadian jobs would be protected when Lowe's bought Rona. You can imagine how shocked employees were when they were told that their stores will close in January, leaving them unemployed.

Nine stores in Quebec and 31 stores across the country are closing their doors. The company has said that U.S. employees will be offered jobs elsewhere, but no such assurance has been given to Canadian employees.

Now that these jobs are at risk, what will the minister do to protect these workers?

Points of Order November 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, as you know, during question period you cut off an answer by the NDP vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

I am really hoping that you can clarify that decision, since you and every Speaker before you have ruled that the Speaker has no ability to judge the quality or the content of answers given during question period.

In fact, Bosc and Gagnon tells us, at page 516 that:

The Speaker ensures that replies adhere to the standards of order, decorum and parliamentary language, but is not responsible for the quality or content of replies to questions.

The member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford was responding and telling us about some of the very important work being done at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

This is just a question of ours. Is it a double-standard that we see, or is the House now to understand that today's precedent will be applied to answers by the government side of the House from now on? We are hoping that it is the latter.

International Trade November 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, three times the Liberals had a chance to protect supply management and guess what? Three times they failed. The Liberals have signed deals that opened up more than 10% of our dairy market. The effects of these policies are hard and they hurt families. Hard-working families are feeling betrayed by the Liberals. The Liberals have used our supply-managed farmers as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations and we must know more about this.

Could the vice-chair of the agriculture committee tell the House whether the TPP and the lack of compensation for farmers will be on the agenda in the coming days?

Regional Development October 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, last week I met with representatives of Entreprises Robert Charette, Lanau Industries, Fabrications Brandon and Atelier Marco Desrosiers. These companies in Saint-Gabriel-de-Brandon told me that a labour shortage is one problem they all have in common.

This problem is not unique to these companies; it is widespread throughout the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé. I see it every time I go out and about. I see signs that read “Welder Wanted”, “Cook Wanted” or simply “We Are Hiring”.

However, solutions do exist. We could, for example, provide open work permits to temporary foreign workers and help them obtain their citizenship to create a permanent and not just temporary pool of workers.

To encourage young people to remain in the regions and to retain skilled labour, the government must make more investments in training, infrastructure, public transportation and the cellular network.

In closing, I call on the government to work with the NDP to find solutions for our SMEs and to protect our regions.

Agriculture and Agri-Food October 16th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, 4 million people are living with food insecurity and 850,000 people visit food banks every month.

In Canada, 31 billion dollars' worth of food ends up in landfills or composters. The Liberals keep telling us that they want to protect the environment and really help those in need.

Justin Kulik just gave the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food a petition signed by 167,000 Canadians who are calling on the government to implement measures to put an end to food waste in Canada.

Will the federal government commit to implementing a national strategy to reduce food waste, yes or no?