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NDP MP for Louis-Hébert (Québec)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 38.70% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act March 6th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech. He talked a lot about morality, particularly at the beginning of his speech.
I get a feeling that the fundamental disagreement we have with the government has to do with how we look at free trade agreements. Indeed, the government looks at them only from a market standpoint, which is completely amoral. I did not say “immoral”, but rather “amoral”. That is very important. We examine these agreements from a moral standpoint.
I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on that.
Privilege March 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my hon. colleague for her brilliant speech.
She talked about Parliament being a place of words. She talked about integrity and trust. If we want to have debates that are healthy and remain healthy, we need to be sure that our colleagues are always telling the truth and always saying things that are accurate.
What risk do we run if people assume that they can do terrible things and then simply apologize to make everything right? Would that not undermine our mutual trust?
Privilege March 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, throughout our lives as parliamentarians, we sometimes witness people making wild statements in moments of passion. Sometimes we hear people say things without really thinking. Often, members apologize, we accept their apology, and it ends there.
In this case, however, things have gone a little farther because we wonder what the intention was. Forgetting something, misquoting and deliberately saying something are vastly different from each other. That is the crux of the matter: was there or was there not ill intent?
To what extent does my colleague think an apology can exonerate a person who did something wrong? Where does he personally draw the line?
Privilege March 4th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. It is a shame to base a bill on hearsay and to finally realize that it was no more than that.
In his speech, my colleague asked a very specific question, and I would like him to come back to it. It was about the importance of sending these cases to committee. I would like him to explain, to me and to the House, why it is important for parliamentarians to carefully examine this situation in committee.
Quebec Bridge March 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I spoke briefly about a report released in the past few days.
The report has 515 pages. We only counted how many times certain words are repeated in the report: “rust” appears 2,511 times; “corrosion”, 1,090 times; and “perforation”, 834 times. Do these figures inspire confidence in the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness?
To conclude, I would like to read an excerpt from an open letter written by Mr. Luc Paradis, former president of the Quebec City chamber of commerce, published in Le Soleil on February 24:
[The solution?] What do we usually do when a heritage structure is in danger of collapsing or a property at risk could cause damage? Those responsible are served with a formal demand to take the required action and, if they do not, the initiator of the demand carries out the work and claims the costs from the owner of the structure. In the event of irreparable damage, or if the work is urgent, an injunction is the appropriate recourse.
The bridge cannot wait for the outcome of the legal proceedings under way. It is important that we have a complete report on the situation and that the government take action.
Quebec Bridge March 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening because when I asked the new minister responsible for the Quebec Bridge a question a few months ago to see whether she would bring a new dynamic to the problem that Quebec City is having with this bridge, I was sorely disappointed.
The Quebec Bridge is one of two iconic Quebec City structures. The other is the Château Frontenac. They are postcard-worthy. That is where the similarity ends, however, and I will explain why. The Quebec Bridge is, above all, a feat of engineering. It is the longest cantilever bridge in the world. The structure was designated a national historic site of Canada on November 24, 1995. In 1987, the bridge was also designated an international historic monument by both the American and Canadian societies for civil engineering. That is quite significant.
Every day, 35,000 vehicles cross the bridge. There is a pedestrian walkway and a railway. Most of the people who use the bridge, which connects Quebec City's north and south shores, are people from the south shore. I am an MP from the north shore. These people live in ridings like Lévis—Bellechasse and Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, which both happen to be Conservative ridings.
However, I never heard these members speak about the bridge and the need to maintain it, and I never heard them standing up for the interests of their constituents. In fact, they are going against public opinion in the Quebec City area, and I find that very unfortunate.
A number of studies have been conducted on the bridge's maintenance requirements. There was the Delcan report in 2008, which indicated that there would be problems one day if we were not careful. What is more, the Government of Quebec recently published a study on the bridge deck, which needs major work because it is full of rust. I will get back to that.
I am concerned because the government has been talking about legal proceedings for nine years and not taking any action. Meanwhile, the condition of the bridge is deteriorating every day. The way the Conservatives are dealing with this issue makes me think of the F-35s. The Conservatives wanted to follow in the Liberals' footsteps so badly that they have already succeeded in surpassing them.
To conclude the first part of my speech, I would like to remind hon. members that, in 2005, the future prime minister at the time, since this was during the election campaign, gave a speech before the Quebec City chamber of commerce in which he mocked Liberal transport minister Jean Lapierre. The Prime Minister said that Mr. Lapierre was not even capable of painting a bridge and that, on election day, he would take the paint brush away from him. The Prime Minister must have lost that paint brush because nothing has been done for nine years.
It is a bit like going to a car dealership to buy a new car and being presented with a shiny, new car without any paint on it. Would we buy the car without any paint even though it was new? I do not think so.
In nine years, the government has spent $400,000 in legal fees. How long will this case go on and how much will it cost in legal fees?
Intergovernmental Relations February 24th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are abandoning both the province and the City of Quebec once again. This time, it is in relation to the covered ice rink. As recently as last November, the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs said that he liked the project and that he was just waiting for Quebec to confirm that it would participate. That has been done.
However, in the middle of the Olympics we learned that the new building Canada fund will not finance infrastructure for amateur sport. How ironic.
Does the government have something significant and meaningful to offer Quebec City for its covered ice rink project?
The Budget February 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, which points to a major issue: the way the public administration is managed.
The public administration plays an important role in service delivery. However, the government has made significant spending cuts in the past few years. It would seem that the Conservatives are so obsessed with making cuts in order to make government leaner and more nimble that they have forgotten the purpose of service delivery.
With regard to the immigration backlog, it is important to point out that those people are living in hope, because they want to make a positive contribution to our society. They encounter obstacles not because of malice, but because the government does not know how to manage the process properly. In fact, it is really a question of incompetence in case management.
If the government had its priorities in the right place, it would be able to help those people contribute to our society much more quickly.
The Budget February 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question. That is what my speech was actually all about.
In addition to passing legislation, the budget is a significant part of the work that we do in the House. It is supposed to be a tool that helps people grow. Among other things, this means that, for life to be affordable, we do not want interest rates to be exorbitant.
We know that Canadians have too much debt. It is important to support them in paying off their personal debts. We hear about the government's debt, but the debt of Canadians is conveniently forgotten. The NDP is proposing a whole host of measures.
For instance, I am thinking about the fees that seniors have to pay just to receive paper invoices or to use a bank machine. These are all simple, inexpensive measures that allow people to get value for their money.
The Budget February 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, before I start, I would like to indicate that I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Montcalm.
When I first looked at the budget, I did so from a local and regional perspective. The first thing I noticed was that there was nothing for the Quebec City region or my riding of Louis-Hébert in the budget. None of the federal government's sectors of activity had anything for the Quebec Bridge, the episodes of red dust in Limoilou or the Davie shipyard or anything to reassure our city's seniors, who should continue having door-to-door postal delivery instead of having to go out in winter. There was nothing for pension plans, even though our society has a growing population of seniors.
My riding has a university and two other post-secondary institutions. There was nothing for post-secondary education in the way of provincial transfers. There was nothing about that. There was nothing for basic research. There was mention of applied research and industrial research. However, basic research is the basis for the wealth of our future society. I saw nothing about that.
I would like to talk a little about the Quebec Bridge, which is in my riding. Over the past nine years, this government has spent more than $400,000 on legal expenses. However, I did not see anything in the budget about that. In 2005, the Prime Minister gave a speech to the Quebec City chamber of commerce. He promised to take the paint brush away from the Liberals in order to get the bridge painted. Nine years and four ministers later, they are still looking for the brush.
The Conservatives have cloned the Liberals' incompetence. One might say that the older the government gets, the more it likes to copy the Liberals. That is how it goes.
I would remind members that, during the last election, the government's slogan was “Our region in power”. What have the Conservative members from the greater Quebec City area done for the area in the budget? The answer is nothing.
Let us get back to the budget. We were told that the deficit is $2.9 billion. That is a false deficit because there is a $3 billion provision on the books. We are seeing once again the ploy used by Paul Martin when he was the finance minister. By underestimating the ability to have a budget surplus, all of a sudden, at the end of the year, they look like good managers. It is going to happen.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has said in a television interview that we already had a virtual balanced budget. It is in fact quite real. I hope the Minister of Finance will not needlessly borrow that $3 billion from the reserve fund to make taxpayers needlessly pay interest. I hope he does not do that.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said something else that was interesting. He said that a government should serve only to create wealth. I am sorry, but it should serve its citizens, first and foremost. Creating wealth is part of serving the people.
As a final point, I would like to draw the attention of the House to another aspect of this budget. As my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles said, many people are paying so that this government can achieve a balanced budget. Retired public servants are one example. Taking $1.5 billion away from people who are no longer working is rather meanspirited. It is petty and it is shameful. There are no words strong enough, not even unparliamentary ones, to describe how meanspirited that is. When you have reached the point of stealing from people on a fixed income, whose incomes are actually going down, when you achieve a surplus on the backs of people like that, that is petty.
In my riding alone, there are 679 retired public servants.
In the greater Quebec City area, 7,200 retirees will get a taste of this shameful plan; in Quebec, the total is 34,000 and, in Canada, 186,000.
Is this how the government treats those who have made our federal public service an international model? When you work and you have a pension plan, a portion of your salary is deferred for your pension, meaning that you will get the money later. Is the government's idea to have an agreement with workers and then turn around and say that the agreement no longer applies? What is this way of thinking?
The government's attitude toward job training is equally shameful. The government made an announcement on this matter in last year's budget, but it did not follow through with it. In fact, the provinces are opposed to it. The government has needlessly spent $2.5 million of taxpayers' money on a program that does not exist. Now it says that it will have constructive discussions for six weeks and that it will still move forward with the program on April 1st.
Actually, this is what the Minister of Finance had to say about it:
Job training in Canada is not provincial tax money; it's federal tax money. And it's not for a provincial government to tell the federal government how to spend federal tax money.
However, this is an area of provincial jurisdiction. This government has always boasted about respecting jurisdictions, but now it jumps in with both feet for the sake of its ideology. That is completely unacceptable.
That is why the NDP stated, in the Sherbrooke declaration, that any province can opt out of a program with full compensation in those types of situations. I therefore urge this government to uphold the principles set out in the Sherbrooke declaration. It is important for us and for everyone.
For the Liberals, a budget writes itself. For the Conservatives, it is an accounting exercise in which figures that must balance are compared. This cold-blooded accounting exercise could not care less about the consequences for Canadians.
While it is true that they are balancing the budget, people are going to have to pay. This is not being done properly. A budget should benefit ordinary people. It should help people, help companies grow, help create jobs and help young people study and achieve their full potential. It should support seniors and help farmers.
Is there anything like that in this budget? Not at all. It is nothing more than an unfeeling accounting exercise. No one studied the consequences or thought about the people who will pay the price or the purpose of the budget.
The parliamentary secretary spoke about history just now, and I would like to do the same. As part of the cuts made to the various departments, 300 food inspection jobs were eliminated. What is more, we witnesses the largest food recall in Canada's history.
Today, the government solves problems by simply making announcements. It makes cuts randomly and haphazardly without looking at the consequences and then transforms that into a budget announcement. This is unacceptable.
A budget should give hope to Canadians. We should be able to live a healthy life, teach our young people, think about the future and invest in research so that our companies can innovate and prosper. A government is not a publicly traded corporation that has to balance the books at the end of the fiscal year.
A government should take a sustainable development approach to society in all its aspects and have an employment strategy, rather than simply an exercise to fill vacant positions. That is why I deplore the fact that this government has chosen the path of confrontation and come up with a budget that is just laying the groundwork for the next election.
On behalf of the people of Louis-Hébert, I deplore the fact that in this budget no mention is made of the landmark that is the Quebec Bridge.