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Track Francis

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is water.

Liberal MP for Lac-Saint-Louis (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 34.10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by many constituents and Canadians from neighbouring ridings, expressing their disappointment with and opposition to Canada Post's decision to end home mail delivery to five million households.

The petitioners state that the elderly, disabled, self-employed, and small businesses will suffer the most from the cuts, that the government broke its promise to better protect consumers by accepting the plan to reduce Canada Post's services, that between 6,000 and 8,000 Canada Post workers will lose their jobs, and that this reduction in services could lead to the privatization of Canada Post, which is an essential public service.

Citizenship and Immigration November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, officials have confirmed that Canada can accept 10,000 additional government-sponsored refugees over the next three years.

Instead of fighting about the low number of Syrian refugees that the government claims to have accepted, why does the minister not promise to be more generous, in the Canadian tradition of providing international assistance, and accept 10,000 new Syrian refugees over the next three years while also creating new spaces for refugees from other countries?

Foreign Affairs November 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this past August the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses came into force after Vietnam ratified the convention. Why has Canada not ratified the convention? Why did Canada, a water nation, leave it to Vietnam to trigger the convention's coming into force?

Canada should be an international leader on water issues. Why are we not?

The Environment November 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the world's leading scientists have once again delivered a clear message, as President Hollande said, about the urgent need to fight climate change. The President also called on Canada to participate fully in the fight against global warming.

Did the Prime Minister really hear what the President had to say? Will he finally take the necessary measures to enable Canada to meet its greenhouse gas emission targets? All of the experts agree: we are on track to fail.

Questions on the Order Paper October 29th, 2014

With regard to the government’s plan, announced in the 2014 budget, to acquire privately-owned lands through the National Conservation Plan: (a) how much has the government already spent in 2014-2015 on purchasing ecologically-sensitive privately-owned lands and how much does it plan on spending on the purchase of such lands, either directly or through third parties, in the three fiscal years 2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017, in Quebec; (b) how much of this amount has been or will be spent specifically on purchasing wetlands in Quebec; (c) where in Quebec has the government purchased, if it has done so, ecologically-sensitive lands, including wetlands, in 2014-2015 and where does it plan to purchase ecologically-sensitive lands in the province, including wetlands, in the three fiscal years 2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017; and (d) does the government purchase ecologically-sensitive lands, including wetlands, through programs other than the National Conservation Plan and, if so, (i) how much has been spent in the last three fiscal years purchasing ecologically-sensitive privately-owned lands, including wetlands, (ii) how much will be spent in the next three fiscal years (2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017) on purchasing such lands through any programs other than the National Conservation Plan?

Public Safety October 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about the new national security legislation. Will the government be creating a parliamentary oversight committee?

I am not talking about red tape but about a parliamentary oversight committee that includes our security agencies and all of the parties. Its role would be to ensure that appropriate security measures are put in place and that there is a balance between the needs of our security agencies and the rights of Canadians. That is what our allies are doing.

The Environment October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in 2011, waste water from a Suncor oil sands project was accidentally released into the Athabasca River. We were surprised to learn that the test applied to determine if this was a violation of the Fisheries Act was whether more than 50% of affected fish died. I am told this is a provincial standard, one that appears to be in contradiction with the traditional federal standard that says nothing that could be harmful to even one fish should be allowed to enter water.

How can this more lax standard be allowed to exist under the enforcement provisions of the Fisheries Act? Is it because Fisheries Act enforcement has been devolved to the province, where the provincial Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act applies weaker standards? Are the regulatory changes in budget 2014 at least partially aimed at allowing the minister to retroactively exempt this and other industries from more stringent federal anti-pollution prohibitions in favour of more lax provincial ones?

If so, which other industries and provinces will be benefiting from the minister's new power to single-handedly exempt pollution-generating activities from Fisheries Act prohibitions?

The Environment October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Fisheries Act is the federal government's main and, by far, most powerful legislative instrument for protecting Canada's lakes, rivers, and streams. In other words, the Fisheries Act is at the heart of federal water policy.

Since first being elected, the Conservative government has waged an almost incessant crusade to progressively undermine the Fisheries Act; in other words, to effectively weaken the act's prohibitions against harming fish and, by implication, polluting Canada's watercourses.

First, the government used schedule 2 of the Fisheries Act's mining effluent regulations to open the door wide to converting more and more northern freshwater lakes into dumping grounds for toxic mine tailings. The original intent of the regulations was to grandfather lakes that had already been destroyed by mine tailings in clear contravention of the Fisheries Act. In other words, the intent was to retroactively make these toxic lakes legal under the act.

In 2012, the government weakened section 35 of the Fisheries Act, the act's provisions for fish habitat protection, by restricting the section's application to recreational fisheries, commercial fisheries, and aboriginal fisheries only. In regard to section 36 of the act, the section that prohibits the deposit of deleterious substances into fish-bearing waters, absent an explicit regulatory exemption granted by entire cabinet, the budget gave greater power to the minister of fisheries to, by himself or herself, carve out exemptions to the act. In other words, he or she could accord permission to those who wished to be allowed to legally pollute waterways for purposes of research or in the process of conducting various industrial activities, including agricultural production.

In the case of agriculture, the government's aim is to make it easier to allow pesticides to leach into waterways.

In budget 2014, the government followed up on the broad enabling provisions adopted in the 2012 budget, by more precisely defining the regulatory framework within which the minister could create blanket exemptions to the water pollution prohibitions found in section 36 of the Fisheries Act.

Is the government's aim to carve out exemptions for the oil sands industry specifically? It is an industry that, despite persistent and, I would say, stubborn earlier denials by the government, has been found by scientists, including the government's own scientists, to be causing to harm to the Athabasca River watershed.

Business of Supply October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, what I will say is that I think it is completely inappropriate that we allow exploratory work at very sensitive times of the life cycle of whales in this particular case. It is obvious from my remarks that I think the decision that was made on the northern gateway, a review panel decision that ignored the impacts on the humpback whale, is a mistake. It really undermines confidence in the environmental processes that are going to be done in future by the National Energy Board. Yes, we have to be sensitive to these seasonal patterns and so on. That is why the Superior Court in Quebec made the decision it did, and I agree with that decision.

Business of Supply October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, a certain culture has been created within federal departments. Scientists are being muzzled and management is being given carte blanche to issue advice without consulting the experts.

It is as though the government gave its permission for departments to give non-scientific advice that appears scientific for all development projects, without having to consult any scientists.

A culture has been created where everyone believes they have this right. Officials in these departments feel they have the right to issue an opinion on subjects without having any evidence to back it up, in order to please the political higher-ups.