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Results: 1 - 15 of 137
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the unemployment rate in rural parts of the Mauricie region is 2% higher than in Trois-Rivières and the surrounding area. We believe that the government's lack of action on job creation and restrictive employment insurance measures are devastating to rural communities.
Are government members aware of the adverse effects of employment insurance restrictions on seasonal work in the regions?
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I would first like to thank all those who thought to give members who will not be seeking re-election the opportunity to talk about their experiences. Many of those members have been here for a long time, but I have not been here very long. Like about 60 of the other members here, my election came as a complete surprise.
Although I had been volunteering in the political sphere for some time, I never thought that it would bring me to the House of Commons. That is often the attitude that women have with regard to a career in politics. As some of my female colleagues have said, strong arguments are sometimes needed to convince a woman to run for election.
In the party for which I was working, I was the president of the women's commission, and along with two other colleagues, I wrote the bylaws for the Quebec section of the party. I was active and involved, and I never thought about becoming a member of Parliament. However, in the end, parliamentary life turned out to be a rich experience for me in several respects.
It is really something to be able to participate in making decisions for a country, even as a member of the opposition. In my opinion, this was a great privilege. What will I remember about the four years I spent working in the House and in my riding?
In the House of Commons, members develop the ability to analyze the political fact differently from ordinary Canadians. Because of the tools at their disposal, they have more information available on which to base their decisions. Government bills move the country in the direction the government wants it to go, but such decisions cannot be said to be made lightly, even if the differences in the parties' approaches sometimes lead to outcomes that not everyone approves of.
Members also have the right to introduce bills and motions. The order of precedence for doing so is determined by a draw. Unfortunately, Parliament would have to stay in session for a few more months for me to have my turn.
Last week, I attended the debate in the House on a motion that proposed that all members should be allowed to vote freely on all matters of conscience or moral judgment. Even without having defined what was meant by a matter of conscience, something that must be done before we vote on the motion, we talked about whether we should be voting based on what our constituents want, the party line or our personal conscience. That is not an easy problem to solve.
That is the kind of dilemma we sometimes come up against—one where beliefs and ideologies stand in stark contrast and call for research, testimony and thorough analysis to ensure that, in the end, the vote is just and appropriate.
Fridays in the House are special. Most of the members have returned home to their ridings, and the House is getting ready to shut down for the weekend after one final hour of debate on a motion or a private member's bill. That is one of the rare instances when there is time for a more personal debate.
That is what happened last week when we were debating Bill C-643, which called for a national spinal cord injury awareness day. The bill, sponsored by our two MPs in wheelchairs, gave us a rare opportunity to step away from partisan rhetoric and learn more about their lives.
It was on that rare occasion that members set partisanship aside and shared the same human emotions. Such a rare situation, so different from what we see during question period, should be more common.
I would like to add that, in terms of life in the House during the 41st Parliament, debate was often restricted on the pretext that everything had been said.
However, it is often following the analyses of experts in a given field, analyses that are undeniably very important, that a more secondary analysis will bring out certain aspects that were overlooked the first time.
If I could make one wish in that regard, it would be that no debate ever be limited. Freedom of speech is vital to democracy. The diversity of analyses undertaken from various perspectives can only enrich the debate and allow for more enlightened decisions.
The second aspect of the life of an MP is the work we do in our ridings. The first thing my political staffer and I did was hire someone for the constituency office who knew our new work environment really well. Through her, we got to know the riding, with its 23 municipalities, its 37,000 km 2, its diverse landscapes, the social and economic diversity of its towns and cities, its difficulties and its unemployment issues. I thank her for that. We built relationships with all the mayors, community groups, organizations, small businesses and MLAs that we met at the various events we attended. We discovered all the physical beauty and human potential that exist in this riding. I learned to love it and defend it wholeheartedly.
Today, I know everything about the riding: the beauty of its scenery in every season, the lives of the Atikamekw people, the dirt roads leading to their villages, the importance of the train in remote regions, the difficulties that forestry workers are having, the factories that are closing, and the communities that are trying to attract tourists as a way of breathing new live into municipalities that have lost their lustre.
We travelled from one end of the riding to the other many times. We supported the festival in St-Tite and the tomcod fishing festival. We also supported the arts, including the wonderful Notre-Dame-de-la-Présentation church, which is home to the works of Ozias Leduc.
It is always a pleasure to meet with my constituents in a variety of different circumstances. I noticed that, whether we live in the city or the country, we are all human beings with feelings who are ultimately trying to make our dreams a reality.
I would be remiss if, before closing, I did not thank all of my staff from the bottom of my heart.
Anne Cleary is an experienced member of my staff in Ottawa who has been working on the Hill for 20 years. She is very organized and always available to help.
Every day, my researcher, Jacqueline Froidefond, gave me a press review of everything that was happening in the riding.
Nicole Duchesne and Mance Vallée had to be independent, since they worked in remote offices and were required to make arrangements on their own and often attend events I was not able to attend.
Jocelyne Rivest and Christine Boisvert shared time at the main office in Grand-Mère. I have heard so many good things about how welcoming they were to constituents.
Lastly, Roger Le Blanc, my political assistant, took on all kinds of duties, namely managing employees, drafting, analyzing bills, and always travelling with me in the riding. I do not know what I would have done without his political insight, his analyses and his good judgment. Thank you for everything, Roger. I will leave here having learned a lot.
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, an unprecedented crisis is gripping thousands of people whose homes are affected by pyrrhotite. Once again, the federal government is not there to answer the calls for help from Mauricie.
How does the government plan to address this regional crisis and limit the impact of this housing catastrophe in a region already heavily stigmatized by thousands of job losses in the primary resources sector?
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, for 40 years Quebec Native Women has been standing up for abused aboriginal women. Coincidentally or not, after the organization criticized the government's inaction on this issue, its funding was reduced to nil.
Can the government honestly say that this is just a coincidence?
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, more layoffs have hit the forestry industry in Mauricie.
More than 300 jobs were cut last week when the Resolute Forest Products plant shut down in Rivière-aux-Rats.
In light of this closing and of the closing of the plant in Grand-Mère a short time ago, does the government agree that it is important to create a national policy on the harvesting, processing and use of wood?
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the slow erosion of the passenger rail system in Canada is relentless. In Haute-Mauricie, cuts are being made to services for aboriginal people, services for those who travel to receive medical care, services for the many tourists and vacationers, and interregional services. We are facing an organized dismantling of rail transportation in order to decrease service delivery in remote regions. If the government wants to shut down the towns and villages in the regions, there is no better way to go about it.
We no longer see trains passing by. Our train stations are becoming museums in memory of our investments of yesterday in areas abandoned by government. Nevertheless, it is rather ironic to hear the Prime Minister boast about the advantages of occupying the areas adjacent to the Northwest Passage in response to thirsty nations' claims on our Arctic regions, when meanwhile the current government is abandoning our regions by closing the railway lines that forged our national and territorial identity.
How far will the destruction of our symbols and our infrastructure go? You have to be familiar with the regions to see the problems caused by the elimination of train service, and it seems fairly obvious that the executives at the head office have never set foot out of the Toronto or Montreal stations. The cuts made to the passenger rail system should not have an impact on local economies. Were they expecting the Holy Spirit to provide service to remote regions?
Despite the wishful thinking of VIA Rail executives and their obvious lack of sensitivity to rural populations, people are suffering from these haphazard cuts. They are selling stations for a dollar, abandoning one-hundred-year-old services, liquidating our heritage to the lowest bidder, replacing station agents with self-service kiosks—and you can forget it if you are not paying with plastic.
The bill introduced by the member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine partially meets the expectations of local populations. Is it realistic to put restrictions on VIA Rail to give passenger service priority over commercial or industrial service? We are aware of the limits of such a measure, in light of who owns the railways in Canada. It seems to us that, in this context, the lack of a national strategy for passenger transportation will be a crucial consideration in developing new criteria and controls for VIA Rail.
Little by little, the train has become the means of transportation for urban dwellers, to the detriment of people living in the regions. We are one of the industrialized societies that invests the least in public transit. The dismantling of VIA Rail and its regional services was done without consultation. Changes in rates, schedules and the number of destinations are determined by bureaucrats who happily sacrifice regional development without listening to users' complaints.
How can we get VIA Rail back on track? How can we make the current government realize what is happening in the regions? We understand the gist of the member's bill. We can see the complete indifference of VIA Rail executives towards people in the regions. However, how can we compel this crown corporation and private rail companies without having a national rail transportation policy?
The number and scope of rail disasters should have prompted the minister to develop a serious rail policy. We are still waiting for the improvisation to stop.
We must conduct a comprehensive study of the negative effects of the cuts to passenger rail service in order to align those findings with the modernization of freight transportation.
The government is proposing that penalties be imposed on recalcitrant carriers as the ultimate fix for these carriers' possible mismanagement. The many planned restrictions with regard to services and the prioritization of passenger transportation are not realistic because passenger transportation is not as profitable as freight transportation.
Any passenger rail policy that is developed must align with the development of freight transportation. The co-existence of the two systems requires an assessment of the risks inherent in their respective areas of expertise, which are disproportionate. The prosperity of one must benefit the other.
Regional development, which relies on many industrial bases, is related to the needs of local populations. We cannot hope to earn a profit from our resources without giving small communities sustainable infrastructure.
For many, the end of VIA Rail means the end of many communities. Every generation must reinvent its prosperity. The same is true of the role of this passenger rail stakeholder.
For the time being, we are not assessing the magnitude of the social disaster caused by the disappearance of passenger rail service. We have not assessed the social costs of this disappearance. We believe, as does the member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, that VIA Rail must be forced to provide services to remote regions. We believe that the current level of service is lacking. We are disappointed about the lack of regard for passenger safety on a number of lines of this so-called national carrier.
VIA Rail has a critical role to play as a passenger carrier in Canada, but resources are lacking as a result of the lack of interest shown by governments. In addition to imposing a new legal framework on the carrier, we must finally develop a real Canadian passenger and freight transportation policy.
The topic of land use must not be limited to the throne speech. We need to make our historical presence in the north and south a national priority. The almost total lack of rail service in the regions is a daily struggle. The local populations have been abandoned and must reluctantly leave their homes.
We believe that the thought process initiated by the member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine is the first step toward the creation of a national inclusive transportation policy. The introduction of Bill C-640 enables us to begin a debate on the role of public services in Canada. This bill sets out responsibilities that are consistent with the historic role of parliamentarians in this place. We need to be able to debate the people's needs and report on the progress and setbacks in this domain.
This bill decrees rules of precedence and shared use for the crown corporation and private companies, rules that we have to take a close look at while considering the costs arising from such a policy.
However, private companies do not operate in a vacuum and must be accountable to civil society, particularly with respect to safety and the common good.
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, Canada will soon participate in the 21st United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
According to data compiled by Canadian scientists, Canada will not be able to meet the March 31 deadline for submitting its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Is the Prime Minister's plan for our country a new strategy for reducing or for increasing harmful emissions?
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Veterans Affairs thinks that $139 a week is enough compensation for family members who care for veterans. This amount does not take into account the sacrifices made by the families of veterans who are wounded in the line of duty.
Will the minister agree to fair compensation for the efforts made by these families instead of this amount that is not in line with the value of their sacrifices?
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am not going to talk about the bill since we said we are going to vote for it.
Nonetheless, I would like to talk about its title. When I was studying literature at university and it came time to write essays and choose titles, I learned that a title should always reflect the text that followed.
This is not some tabloid we have here. This is a bill and it is serious. Imagine reading this 10 years from now. A bill must not be emotionally charged. It has to be neutral and impose certain rules on certain things.
I find this title to be far too emotional and provocative. I will vote for this bill, but in committee I would choose a more neutral title that does not pass judgment on the bill itself.
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.
Despite the existing treaties and agreements between the governments and aboriginal peoples, the Conservative government has always refused to meet its legal obligations and consult the aboriginal communities.
Does my colleague think that the bill he is introducing could improve this situation?
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, there is an impressive number of seasonal festivals for the people of Mauricie to enjoy.
Although the federal government has shown absolutely no interest, the Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade Festival de pêche aux petits poissons des chenaux is holding its 77th annual tomcod fishing festival.
This type of festival is an essential way to keep people involved in the region, and the government has a duty to ensure its survival.
In spite of obstacles and a lack of significant funding from the federal government, Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade still welcomes visitors from across Canada who want to experience ice fishing in one of the oldest francophone communities in the country.
Today we pay tribute to the organizers of this festival, which is a cultural signpost along the winding Chemin du Roy tourist route.
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I wish to present to the House a petition calling on the government to respect the right of small family farms to store, trade and use seed.
The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to commit to adopting international aid policies that would support small farmers, especially women, and ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small farmers.
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, last month we learned that 34 federal public service jobs were being cut in Shawinigan. Those job cuts at Health Canada are added to a long list of jobs lost in Mauricie and other communities in the metallurgy and forestry sectors.
Does the minister responsible for those cuts plan to change that decision, considering the economic reality of that region?
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to present this petition calling on the government to respect the rights of small family farms to keep, trade and use their seeds.
The petitioners in my riding are calling on the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to commit to adopting international aid policies that support small farmers, especially women, and recognize their vital role in the struggle against hunger and poverty. They must also commit to ensuring that Canada's policies and programs are developed through a consultative process with the small farmers.
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, there are many small farmers in my riding. I talked to them about this bill and they all told me it does not really take them into consideration.
Can the minister explain to me once more why small farmers are not being taken into consideration in this bill?
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