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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is conservatives.

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

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

Statements in the House

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Trois-Rivières for his excellent question.

No, and in fact the NDP has a very critical view of the government's current economic policy. It seems to be built on the idea that raw products and natural resources should be exported overseas as quickly as possible. Those exports will be processed abroad and then we will buy the final products. The other countries will benefit from the added value. Instead, we should have a solid industrial and manufacturing policy here in Canada. We have lost 400,000 jobs in the manufacturing industry over the past 10 years. That is completely unacceptable. Those were good, high-paying jobs.

An economy cannot be based solely on the mass export of raw natural resources. We need to be able to process those resources ourselves so that we can sell finished, processed products, such as pianos, to the world. There is value in that, and Canadians could put their expertise to good use.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. We believe that the government is not doing enough to support the automotive sector and that we should do even more to protect this sector, which is vital to many Canadian cities and municipalities.

I also want to point out that we are playing catch-up here. It is all well and good to sign an agreement with South Korea, but we are about nine years late. The United States and the European Union have long had agreements with South Korea. This caused our exports to Korea in the aerospace sector, for example, to drop by 80%, from $180 million to just $35 million in 2012. The same goes in the agricultural sector. For example, Canada used to be the top exporter of pork to South Korea. Now, we are fourth.

I think it is too bad that the government waited so long and that now we are forced to catch up to our American and European partners.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the NDP does not usually rise in the House in support of a trade agreement, a free trade agreement with another country. In the past, we have been rather skeptical. We are still skeptical, because we are critical thinkers and we want trade agreements to benefit our economic sectors and workers, and to protect and defend our jobs. That being said, we are also aware that we must diversify our exports.

Canada and Quebec have always been nations of traders. Ever since we traded with the aboriginal peoples when we arrived, traded furs and dealt with our neighbours to the south, the Americans, we have always worked in production and commerce. We know that this is part of our economic and social fabric and that, today, we need to provide our goods and services to the whole world in order to keep thousands of jobs in the country and to sell our products, be it in Africa, Japan, Europe or China. We are aware that this is key to the economic well-being of our workers in all our economic sectors. However, we must consider and assess each trade agreement on its own merits and what we will or will not gain from it. We must ask ourselves certain questions every time we sign a treaty with another country.

The NDP determined that the trade agreement with South Korea had more advantages than disadvantages for many economic sectors. I will come back to that, but I must say first and foremost that we conducted a careful study to assess the benefits, the losses, the costs and the profits. I would like to point out that, unlike the Liberal Party, which gives the government a blank cheque by voting in favour of any free trade agreement without considering its contents, we think that we must do some serious work and determine whether it is truly advantageous for our businesses and the workers they employ. There are some very interesting things in South Korea's case.

We believe that we should always ask ourselves three questions before signing a treaty. For the most part, the Conservatives have botched these negotiations, which are not always to our advantage. That is why we have opposed these agreements many times in the past. In some cases, it was because we came out on the losing end; in others, it was because we were signing agreements with governments that had abysmal human rights records. Sometimes, the governments were linked to crime or there were politically motivated murders of union activists. For example, we were very concerned about the Conservatives' free trade agreement with Honduras, which we refused to support.

Question number one: Does the proposed partner respect democracy and human rights, and does it have adequate environmental and labour standards?

Question number two: Is the economy of the proposed partner of significant or strategic value to Canada and our exporters? We are a nation of traders, therefore exporters, and we are trying to diversify our exports. Opening up a new market can be a very attractive prospect, but does it have a significant strategic value?

As they say, the devil is in the details. The third question is the following: Are the terms of the proposed agreement satisfactory?

According to the NDP's assessment, the trade agreement with South Korea is positive and satisfactory overall. Why?

I have been involved with unions and the defence of public services. I believe that protecting our public services and procurement for various levels of government is vital when governments have to make purchases or provide services. In the proposed agreement with South Korea, there is absolutely nothing that affects procurement for various levels of government.

Our public services are not at all affected by any aspect of this trade agreement. It really affects only the private sector. That is very important to me and to the people I represent. The agreement proposed today does not pose any threat regarding the privatization of public services, but we have serious doubts about the proposed agreement with the European Union. We still have not been given any details or seen the text of the agreement.

This is a fundamental value for me and for many progressives and social democrats. Some safeguards are in place in the private sector. Agricultural production, a supply managed industry, is not subject to this agreement. That is good news for most producers and farmers in Quebec and Canada, and we are very pleased about that.

First, this agreement does not privatize anything or attack any public services, which is a good thing. Second, we are concerned about the dispute resolution mechanism as it now stands.

Every trade agreement contains a dispute resolution mechanism for the two partners, in case a company deems that it has been treated unfairly with regard to its investments or its production capacity, for example.

One of the mechanisms in this agreement is not what the NDP or the main opposition party in South Korea would have negotiated.

It is clear that, next year, when the NDP takes office, we will sit down with our South Korean partners and review this dispute resolution mechanism to ensure that companies will not be able to take legal action against a government or a level of government over future loss of profit. This seems undemocratic to us and we are particularly concerned about it. We want to resolve this issue.

We are able to live with this agreement as it stands because it contains a clause that allows us to terminate our relations or a dispute with six months' notice, unlike the trade agreement with China, which ties our hands and is binding for 31 years. This clause protects us and it protects our workers and businesses in Quebec and Canada.

We can live with this, even if we are concerned about it and it seems undemocratic to us. We want to renegotiate with South Korea when we take office.

Third, we are concerned about support for the automotive sector in this agreement. The agreement has some huge benefits for a number of economic sectors, including the forestry, aerospace and agriculture sectors, and I think we have everything to gain. This will enable us to increase our exports and sales to South Korea, the 15th biggest economy in the world, which has 50 million inhabitants with purchasing power similar to that of Quebeckers and Canadians. It is a very attractive market in which to sell our products.

However, we also know that this country produces a huge number of automobiles. There are 100,000 good jobs in Canada—not in Quebec anymore—in the automotive sector, and we encourage the Conservative government to adopt measures that will support the jobs in Canada's automotive industry.

We do not think that the existing 6% tariff really protected us from exports coming from South Korea, especially since they had plants in the United States, and later Mexico, so that 6% tariff did not exist.

However, we are concerned about the potential increase in the number of South Korean cars coming into the country. We would like the government to be more proactive about protecting and defending the automotive industry to protect these good jobs.

I remind members that this agreement will help our farmers and our aerospace companies, such as Bombardier, which is why the NDP will support it.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I think that what my Conservative Party colleague fails to understand is that we are voting in favour of a free trade agreement with South Korea. I do not see what there is to criticize about that.

However, I have a question for him about something concerning at least 100,000 workers with well-paid jobs in Canada. The concern has to do with the automotive sector and Korean cars. We want to know what is the government's plan for protecting the car manufacturing sector in Canada and for supporting these jobs in light of the Korean competition. What does the hon. member's government propose for defending Canadian jobs?

The Senate September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, after the miserable failures of Brazeau, Wallin, Gerstein, Duffy and the like, we realized that the Conservatives' selection process was pretty haphazard.

However, we have just learned that they offered a Senate seat to Julie Snyder, who has ties to Ms. Marois and is the wife of an aspiring Parti Québécois leader. I have nothing against Ms. Snyder. On the contrary, she turned down the offer.

The Conservatives' hypocrisy is the issue here. They usually go after the big bad separatists, but apparently anything goes when it is time to stack the Senate. It is pretty obvious: if they ever get hold of the mascot Badaboum, they will likely appoint him to the Senate. That is how desperate they are.

We will let the Conservatives find their future Senate lackeys and the Liberals sort out who they are: Liberal senators who are not Liberals, but who espouse Liberal ideals nonetheless.

The NDP is the only party to have figured out that the senators themselves are the problem.

Canada Post September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, you are quite right; this is called question period and not answer period, unfortunately.

Along with the NDP, there are now 87 municipalities that have passed resolutions opposing the end of home mail delivery in Canada. Now we have heard that Canada Post will need to rent commercial space in large cities for its mailboxes. Knowing the Conservatives, it will probably cost more to rent thousands of square feet of space than it would to just deliver the mail to people. Enough with the wasteful spending.

Will the Conservatives ask Canada Post to go back to the drawing board and defend and protect this service, which people really want?

Ethics September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we now know the date of former senator Mike Duffy's trial. We hope that the trial, which will start in April, will finally shed some light for us on the role of the Prime Minister's Office in this scandal.

Rather curiously, at the heart of this fraud and corruption trial one man alone stands accused of receiving a cheque for $90,000. We wonder how it is that the man who signed the cheque, the Prime Minister's former chief of staff, can be as pure as the driven snow, just like all the others who orchestrated these shenanigans.

Is the Prime Minister going to comply with his fixed election date legislation so that, next year, voters can go to the polls fully informed?

Resumption of Parliament September 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as this first week back to Parliament draws to a close, we already have a strong record.

The NDP worked for Canadians with proposals on minimum wage, health, pensions and public day care. We cannot say the same about the Liberals. Let us just say that with them, it seemed more like back to school than back to Parliament.

The leader of the Liberal Party was scolded by his colleagues on abortion, an issue that his party does not agree on. Then, he refused to take a clear position on the Champlain Bridge. He was all over the place on that issue. He wants a toll and he does not want a toll. He wants more details, but we have been talking about this for three years. What is more, he tried to have us believe he was standing up for unemployed workers affected by the cuts to employment insurance, but he got his numbers mixed up. What an amateur.

I do not need to say any more to convince hon. members that this first week back was rather tough for the Liberals and their leader. We in the NDP have an experienced leader and a team that is ready to replace a tired old government.

In 2015, Canada will have its first NDP government.

Employment September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we will introduce a federal minimum wage, because next year we will form the government.

The inequalities have not stopped growing since the Liberals and Conservatives misappropriated the employment insurance fund to balance their budgets on the backs of workers. What this means is that a growing number of people have to use food banks. The average yearly income has increased by just 1¢ since 1975, and because of their carelessness, 100,000 workers are currently living in poverty.

Why are the Conservatives so quick to give billions of dollars to corporations, yet are unable to get moving to increase the federal minimum wage?

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is pathetic that the government is giving tax credits to people who do not earn enough to pay taxes. It does not change a thing in their lives.

I have two questions.

First, is the number of women in Canada who are working full time, yet living under the poverty line, acceptable to the Conservative government?

The second question is this. The government's own federal labour standards review recommended in 2006 that the federal government reinstate the federal minimum wage and benchmark it to Statistics Canada's low-income cut-off. Does the minister agree with her own federal labour standards review?