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Crucial Fact

NDP MP for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 51.00% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Employees' Voting Rights Act March 26th, 2014

No, I was not surprised.

Employees' Voting Rights Act March 26th, 2014

moved:

Motions No. 1

That Bill C-525 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motions No. 2

That Bill C-525, in Clause 4, be amended

(a) by replacing line 14 on page 2 with the following:

“employee who claims to represent at least 50%”

(b) by replacing line 26 on page 2 with the following:

“50% of the employees in the bargaining unit”

Motions No. 3

That Bill C-525, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing line 39 on page 2 with the following:

“the application, at least 50% of the employees”

Motions No. 4

That Bill C-525, in Clause 8, be amended

(a) by replacing line 17 on page 4 with the following:

“sent at least 50% of the employees in the”

(b) by replacing line 28 on page 4 with the following:

“any person claiming to represent at least 50% of”

(c) by replacing line 42 on page 4 with the following:

“50% of the employees in the bargaining unit no”

Motions No. 5

That Bill C-525, in Clause 11, be amended by replacing line 11 on page 6 with the following:

“least 50% of the employees in the bargaining”

Motions No. 6

That Bill C-525, in Clause 12, be amended by replacing line 23 on page 6 with the following:

“subsection 94(1), at least 50% of the employees”

Mr. Speaker, I want to start this debate with a quotation from Mr. Chris Riddell, who in 2001 published an article in the Canadian Journal of Economics entitled “Union Suppression and Certification Success”. He wrote:

Clearly, if a government is opposed to unionization it can accomplish such an agenda through instituting compulsory elections.

That is exactly what the right-wing, ideological, anti-worker, anti-union current government is trying to do with Bill C-525. Bill C-525 would impose a secret ballot every time workers wanted to organize to defend their rights and improve their working and living conditions in general.

We have a card-check system that is simple, works well for the workers, and creates no problems at all.

I will demonstrate to members here tonight that the changes brought forward by the member would create an environment in which it would be much more difficult to institute or create new unions. As such, it would lower living and working conditions for a lot of Canadians. It is sad, because I think the bill would put us much closer to an American model than a Canadian model, which is based on sharing and fairness.

Thanks to pressure by people and workers across the country and strong opposition by the NDP, we managed to get rid of all the ludicrous, absolutely absurd things in Bill C-525.

At first, this bill was so anti-union that people who abstained from voting on whether or not they wanted to have a union at their workplace would be deemed to have voted against forming a union. When it came to dismantling the union, then it was the opposite.

The ideological bias was so inflated that the government felt that those who abstained from voting were voting in favour of dismantling the union. Fortunately, the NDP managed to get the government to listen to reason and the government backed down. We got the government to back down and return to a voting system, which we are not entirely sure is necessary, because it opens the door to shady practices by the employer, including bullying, threats and blackmail.

At least the votes that will be counted are the ones in the box and not the ones of the people who stayed home. The system is like what we do for federal and provincial elections, according to the rules that govern our election to the House.

We avoided catastrophe, but the fact remains that this bill goes against the NDP's principles and values. The NDP wants to help people organize and improve their working conditions, not put up obstacles.

Just now, when I was speaking in English, I said that this bill would put us much closer to an American model and is a departure from the fair and equitable society that has been the trademark of Canada and Quebec for years.

I would like to quote a very interesting document from the Confédération des syndicats nationaux:

Why did the provincial and federal legislators provide in their respective labour codes that the choice of belonging to a union would be determined by signing a membership card instead of by secret ballot? [It is simple.] To avoid having employers interfere by intimidating their employees into giving up on forming a union.

The tools available to the two opposing parties can have a huge impact on the result of a vote by secret ballot. How can a union that is just being formed claim to have tools that are just as effective in winning the vote as those of an employer or a group of employees supported by the employer?

...What is more, will these employees be able to campaign at the workplace without the risk of sanctions being imposed, when those who are anti-union will clearly benefit from the support or at least the supportive tolerance of the employer?

In short, a real pre-vote campaign cannot be run on a level playing field, and its results will not truly represent the individual choice of each employee involved.

I will stop quoting there and say that signing a card is an important gesture. By so doing, workers confirm that they belong to an organization and that they want to be represented by that organization, which will negotiate a contract that will ensure that their rights will be respected and their working conditions will improve. It is a gesture that is just as meaningful and legitimate as a vote by secret ballot.

We are beginning to see here how obstacles can be put in the way of employees who, with good reason, want to organize to negotiate a collective agreement.

It is interesting to read in the CSN document the opinions of those involved on the issue of an employer's potential interference in the certification process.

I would like to read a quote from the May 16, 2005, edition of Le Devoir. Louis Morin, a former Labour Court judge and the former president of the Quebec labour relations commission, stated:

At no time in my career have I ever met a single employer who was happy to hear that a union was being formed. Sometimes they had very strong reactions to this news. Is it more democratic for workers to vote against unionization after the employer has threatened them with the closure of the business, the loss of their rights and so on than for them to have signed a membership card even if they were persistently asked to do so?

This is someone with experience, the former head of the Quebec labour relations commission, who is saying that the card system works well. That is why the NDP believes that we should maintain the existing system. It works well and allows Canada to have a much higher rate of unionization than the United States.

We will see later that this has an economic impact on workers, their families and all communities because it injects money into small businesses, towns, cities and all of our communities.

In a 2001 article entitled Union organizing under neutrality and card check agreements, Adrienne Eaton and Jill Kriesky said that employers used fewer unfair practices when card checks were used.

If a union is not always present in a workplace and the employer uses blackmail or promises promotions or particular positions if people campaign for its side, there is no balance of power. The employee's choice will not be fair and informed, and the employee will not be free from intimidation or threats from the employer. This kind of climate can destroy labour relations and can be emotionally traumatic for the employees.

That is what Adrienne Eaton and Jill Kriesky said. These authors even said 50% fewer employers run an anti-union campaign if card checks are used. When cards are signed, there are fewer unfair practices and anti-union campaigns. Furthermore, the number of successful union certifications seems to rise when there is a card check system and a neutrality agreement with the employer.

I have about eight other experts I could quote about the effects in British Columbia and Ontario. The number of attempts to unionize decreased, and their success rate dropped by 20% to 30% in most cases, even though unions offer a clear advantage.

On average, a unionized worker earns $4.97 more per hour than a non-unionized worker. The benefit is even greater for women. A unionized woman earns $6.65 more per hour than a non-unionized woman. If we were to take that additional money out of the economy, if we were to undo all of the collective bargaining that led to wage increases, the Canadian economy would lose $786 million a week. That is a big deal.

That is why the NDP will continue to push for a healthy work environment as well as for opportunities for all workers to organize and improve their working conditions, since that is how we create a more united, fair and egalitarian society and a better place to live.

Canada Revenue Agency March 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, does that mean that they are using the airplanes as personal taxis 25% of the time?

This is shameful. Approximately 3,000 individuals had their personal information compromised by the Canada Revenue Agency in 2013. That is more than all of the other agencies and departments combined. These are serious personal and financial information breaches. What is more, there are over 100 cases where the information was lost or stolen. However, less than 1% of those breaches were reported to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

The commissioner issued recommendations today. When will the Conservatives implement them? I am not asking if they will implement them, but when.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns March 24th, 2014

With regard to Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, specifically the Montreal regional office: (a) what are the existing standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to funding requests; (b) what changes have been made to the standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to funding requests in the past 10 years; (c) in which months of which years were the changes to the standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to funding requests implemented; (d) what are the existing standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to meeting requests from MPs’ offices; (e) what changes have been made to the standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to meeting requests from MPs’ offices in the past 10 years; (f) in which months of which years were the changes to the standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to meeting requests from MPs’ offices implemented; (g) what is the complete list of meetings between MPs and employees and directors of the regional office in the past 10 years, broken down by year and political affiliation of MPs; (h) what is the complete list of meetings between representatives of MPs and employees and directors of the regional office in the past 10 years, broken down by year and political affiliation of MPs’ representatives; (i) what is the complete list of meetings between former MPs and employees and directors of the regional office on a subject other than a former MP’s business, in the past 10 years, broken down by year; (j) what are the existing standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to requests for information by phone from MPs’ offices; (k) what changes have been made to the standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to requests for information by phone from MPs’ offices in the past 10 years; (l) in which month of which years were the changes to the standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to requests for information by phone from MPs’ offices implemented; (m) what is the complete list of phone communications between MPs and employees and directors of the regional office in the past 10 years, broken down by year and political affiliation of MPs; (n) what is the complete list of phone communications between representatives of MPs and employees and directors of the regional office in the past 10 years, broken down by year and political affiliation of MPs’ representatives; (o) what is the complete list of phone communications between former MPs and employees and directors of the regional office on a subject other than a former MP’s business, in the past 10 years, broken down by year; (p) what are the existing standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to requests for information by email from MPs’ offices; (q) what changes have been made to the standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to requests for information by email from MPs’ offices in the past 10 years; (r) in which month of which years were the changes to the standards and procedures to be followed by employees and directors of the regional office to respond to requests for information by email from MPs’ offices implemented; (s) what is the complete list of email communications between MPs and employees and directors of the regional office in the past 10 years, broken down by year and political affiliation of MPs; (t) what is the complete list of email communications between representatives of MPs and employees and directors of the regional office in the past 10 years, broken down by year and political affiliation of MPs’ representatives; and (u) what is the complete list of email communications between former MPs and employees and directors of the regional office on a subject other than a former MP’s business, in the past 10 years, broken down by year?

Ethics March 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as long as the Prime Minister continues to appoint people who abuse and deceive honest Canadians, the NDP will continue to ask questions.

Senator Meredith was removed from the human rights committee because of his very liberal use of a Senate credit card and because he was often late. He tried to get reimbursed for—

Ethics March 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if I understand correctly, we have just heard a new story that Nigel Wright hid things from the Prime Minister. We are starting to see a pattern here.

It is hard to believe that Nigel Wright forgot to tell his boss that the man working for him, who advised him and was part of his transition team, had just happened to stop by the office. However, he never said that.

It seems as though a lot of ministers in the current government, including the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, have tried the so-called secret sauce. It is fantastic.

Why does the Prime Minister always surround himself with people who break the law?

Ethics March 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind members that Bruce Carson was one of the Prime Minister's key advisors. He is best known for devising a scheme for making money on the backs of first nations.

Doug Black, who was appointed to the Senate by this Prime Minister, called his illegal lobbying the “secret sauce”. As a public office-holder, Bruce Carson was not allowed to engage in lobbying activities.

The question is simple. Is the Prime Minister aware of Bruce Carson's illegal lobbying of Daniel Gagnier of the Energy Policy Institute of Canada, who is also the next co-chair of the 2015 election campaign?

Privilege March 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the opposition House leader for his question.

That question is the reason for the debate we have been having for two days. In fact, the member for Mississauga—Streetsville rose in the House and said:

I made a statement in the House during the debate that is not accurate. I just want to reflect the fact that I have not personally witnessed individuals retrieving voter notification cards from the garbage cans or from the mailbox areas...

Eighteen days earlier, he stated the opposite four times. We want to know what happened. Unfortunately, my Conservative colleague is not present. The Speaker of the House of Commons said that, with this contempt of Parliament, there was a clear intention to mislead the House of Commons.

At the very least, the member could be here to explain. If he cannot be here to explain and he insists on hiding, then a committee should look at this in order to determine exactly what happened.

Privilege March 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Gatineau for her excellent question. Obviously, this says a lot about and is symptomatic of the Conservatives' attitude: they are entitled to their entitlements, they do not need to listen to anyone, anything goes, and the ends justify the means.

They have a bill that will change the Elections Act to their advantage. They are prepared to spout utter nonsense to justify it even if the facts are not on their side. Why? It is because the Conservatives are not usually interested in reality and facts. We have seen that in other sectors as well. Statistics Canada is now prohibited from using a mandatory long form census, which makes the data it collects inaccurate and hard to use. The fact that the government is muzzling scientists follows the same pattern and is part of the same arrogant attitude of a tired old government.

Privilege March 4th, 2014

It is true, Mr. Speaker, my grandma would never have done that kind of thing. She had more intellectual honesty than that.

I am trying to understand what happened between February 6th and 24th.

If someone tells the House that he saw people commit illegal acts, why did it take him 18 days to realize he saw nothing of the kind?

No apology will erase the contempt of Parliament committed on February 6. What happened during those 18 days? How is it that the member for Mississauga—Streetsville appears to have suffered hallucinations on February 6 and suddenly had to set the record straight on February 24? We would like to understand.

Basically, this sham, this preposterous story, is supposed to justify the Conservative minister’s electoral reform bill. Constructing public policy and major reforms on baseless statements, smoke and mirrors, is very serious and utterly unacceptable.

We in the official opposition act in a responsible and honest manner. We want to know exactly what happened. Was the member influenced in a way that made him make such statements? Was he subsequently influenced again when he said he had seen no one commit an illegal act? If that is true, how is it that he, as an honest politician, did not notify Elections Canada?

This has nothing at all to do with misspeaking. I might be mistaken about the name of a constituency or a person and then have to apologize, but that is not at all the case here. The member stated on two occasions that he had personally seen such actions.

This brings us back to all the defects in the electoral reform bill. We are told, in an entirely Orwellian tone, that this bill will protect us from the influence of big money, whereas maximum contributions are being raised from $1,200 to $1,500. How can anyone have these two ideas in mind at the same time? This is absolutely inconsistent.

If you want to reduce the influence of big money on elections and political parties, you increase public funding and cut individual contributions. However, the Conservatives are doing the opposite. They probably have more friends than we do who are able to write cheques for $1,500. They are not being serious at all. They are cheating by creating a legal framework that will benefit them in the next election.

This is extremely serious in a representative democracy such as ours, in which people must be able to trust the laws that govern them. Not only do the Conservatives risk preventing tens of thousands of people from voting, but they are raising the limit on individual contributions to a political party to $1,500 and preventing Elections Canada from investigating by stripping it of that power and conferring it on a third party.

What enrages me most about Bill C-23 is that the Conservatives want to prohibit Elections Canada from promoting the right to vote. This is quite disturbing when voter turnout has been declining for years now.

The main body that organizes elections in our country will not be able to tell people that it would be good for them to go and vote, that their votes count and that we need them. No, the only thing it will be able to tell them is the location of their polling station. Elections Canada will no longer be allowed to encourage people to exercise their right to vote and to have a voice in the representation and governance of their country. That must suit somebody. That must benefit people who are not counting on citizen engagement or people’s desire for real change in this country.

It is particularly odious to make false statements in the House to justify an electoral reform bill that has undergone no public consultation, either with the opposition parties or with the Chief Electoral Officer, and even less with the people of our country.

For the NDP, that is unacceptable. We will stand against it.