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NDP MP for Brossard—La Prairie (Québec)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 41.00% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Nelson Mandela December 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the world lost a great man. The tributes from around the world reflect our love for Nelson Mandela.
We drew inspiration from his fight for social justice, for democracy and, above all, for freedom. Despite his 27 years of imprisonment, he chose reconciliation instead of resentment and anger. Through sacrifice, courage and compassion, he brought a nation together to conquer institutionalized racism, apartheid.
South Africa and the entire world have lost a father, but human history has gained a president, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a great hero.
I wish to end with one of his quotes. It is simple and full of optimism. “It always seems impossible until it's done”.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 December 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. It was a privilege to work with him on the Standing Committee on Finance. In addition to being an economist, he is our deputy critic for finance and also for international trade. This shows how much we trust in his expertise and his skills.
I would like my colleague to tell us about the macroeconomic impact of the upcoming budget. Since the Conservative government came to power, Canada has lost 400,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector, among other things. In addition, personal household debt increased, rising to 166%. This is a veritable attack on Canadians.
Could the member please describe the impact of austerity on the Canadian economy and on Canadians?
Rail Transportation December 5th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, more should have been done to prevent the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. The Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs received a warning that could not have been any clearer. I would like to quote a letter from the Lac-Mégantic municipal clerk dated November 12, 2012:
...a train derailment of cars carrying toxic substances or contaminants in that location would likely cause substantial damage, considering the proximity to many residences and to Lac Mégantic;
After receiving such a warning, does the minister believe he could have done more?
Rail Transportation December 4th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, Transportation Safety Board of Canada files indicate that the number of rail safety rule infractions is going up.
In the past 13 years there have been 1,353 infractions. Crews are tired and distracted. They do not follow the rules that are there to prevent collisions.
Why is the number of infractions increasing? What is the government doing to ensure that the rules are followed to the letter?
Rail Transportation December 3rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, an investigation based on data from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has shown that the number of incidents involving runaway trains every year is three times higher than we thought.
Most of these incidents are not made public.
What is most troubling is that the cause of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy is not technically classified in that category under the current definition.
Why so much secrecy around these runaway trains? Why are there not more investigations?
Champlain Bridge December 2nd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, we voted against that money because there was nothing for the new Champlain Bridge in the budget.
This did not magically become an urgent matter. Damning reports kept piling up while cabinet ministers responsible for transport and infrastructure were twiddling their thumbs. This mismanagement is why Arup was hired without a tendering process. It is time to show some transparency.
Can the minister confirm that the tendering processes for the new bridge will be open, transparent and competitive?
Champlain Bridge December 2nd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, for years, successive governments have ignored the under-investment in our infrastructure, including the Champlain Bridge. Instead of working on a plan for replacing the bridge and making appropriate investments, the government built a superbeam five years ago to patch a potential crack.
Getting a new bridge sooner, as the NDP has been calling for, is good, but can the minister tell us how he is going to cut three years off the project?
Champlain Bridge November 27th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I must admit that I am somewhat disturbed and definitely very concerned.
The parliamentary secretary just said that his goal is to circumvent tendering rules because he wants to save six months.
We know that the government is dragging its feet. It is like pulling teeth trying to get it to replace the Champlain Bridge. Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated has been asking Transport Canada for a replacement for 10 years, saying that it needs to happen.
The government knew that when it came to power. Reports have been released, including a Delcan report, that also say that the bridge needs to be replaced. Despite that, in the 2011 election, the government said that it would not replace it.
My concern appears to be justified: the government is deciding not to hold an international architecture competition and is opting to use the services of a company without a call for tenders so that the company will benefit.
This is yet another example of patronage that favours the government's friends. It is sad.
Champlain Bridge November 27th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to ask the government questions about the Champlain Bridge.
I asked a question on November 6 about how the government was managing this issue. Hon. members will recall that it took the NDP, elected municipal and provincial representatives from Quebec and even the business community to force the government to do something about replacing the Champlain Bridge.
What is even more alarming is that we have now learned that the government has known about the problems with the Champlain Bridge for over 10 years. It is not just the Conservative government that is involved. The Liberal government was in power at that time. The successive governments have really dragged their feet with regard to the Champlain Bridge and, today, it is mainly the residents of the south shore and the greater Montreal area who are paying the price. Two lanes are closed, which is causing major traffic delays. It is also resulting in an enormous loss of productivity and a huge waste of time.
I asked a more specific question about how the government is dealing with this issue. Since being elected, I have been asking the government questions to try to improve its transparency. We asked the government to work with the opposition parties in committee on the issue of the Champlain Bridge. Unfortunately, this issue is not being examined by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
The question that I asked on November 6 dealt specifically with how the government is managing this issue, namely, the awarding of contracts. The government confirmed that a $15 million contract was awarded to Arup Canada without a call for tenders. There are rules for awarding contracts. As I said in the question I asked the government, untendered contracts often mean cronyism and corruption. Unfortunately, in Quebec, we often have to deal with corruption when it comes to construction and that is the reason for the Charbonneau commission. Let us hope that the government will learn a lesson from that.
However, we do not need to wait until the end of that commission to know that the contracts and the management of this file must be transparent. We are talking about a file worth between $3 million and $5 million. Once again, the government still has not given us the exact figures. It gives us some, but without giving us any detailed reports, which, once again, I asked for a long time ago.
What is most alarming in how the government is managing this file is that when we ask about the $15 million contract that was awarded, the minister's response is, “the firm in question has been working on the bridge file for quite a while now, along with the company that was awarded the contract for the business plan”. Thus, a $15 million contract was awarded without a call for tenders, because the firm is associated with the company looking after the business plan and making proposals. A contract was awarded without a call for tenders simply because the firms are associated.
All we are asking for is transparency. There were also calls for an international architecture competition quite some time ago, in order to ensure openness and to ensure that the bridge's concept, design and architecture is symbolic and worthy of the 21st century. The government refused yet again, and, from what I understand, it deliberately refused to acquiesce. Those calls came from the City of Montreal and the surrounding municipalities.
I want to know if the government ever plans to take this file seriously. Will it be more open and transparent?
Rail Transportation November 27th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the government's pitiful management of safety does not stop with food safety.
The Auditor General showed just how many problems there are with railway safety. We are not talking about an isolated problem. There are not enough inspectors and no follow-up when problems arise. What is more, the Conservatives are not taking into account how much risk is involved when it comes time to decide what needs to be inspected.
What practical measures is the minister going to take to immediately correct these problems?