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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
Champlain Bridge March 3rd, 2014
Mr. Speaker, this morning the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs presented an uncosted business plan for replacing the Champlain Bridge. I repeat: an uncosted business plan.
There is no dollar figure for the need to replace the toll or for the consequences of imposing a toll on just one of the bridges linking Montreal to the south shore. Instead of holding pointless press conferences, will the minister sit down with his provincial and municipal counterparts in order to agree on a detailed game plan for replacing the Champlain Bridge?
Tax Evasion February 27th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his motion. I also want to congratulate him for tackling tax havens.
I used to be the national revenue critic for the official opposition, and I can say that this issue was a priority for the NDP. We keep lagging further and further behind under successive governments, including the Liberals. All of sudden, we are talking about it because the NDP has brought it to the forefront.
My colleague mentioned the fact that Paul Martin, back then, and the Conservative government, now, both said that they would propose numerous measures to address tax havens.
Can he tell us what is actually being done? Why are they saying that they will work on this and where do things stand now?
Petitions February 26th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege today to present a petition that calls on the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to do more for Syrian refugees looking for a country to welcome them.
We have received hundreds of signatures to present to the House and even more electronic signatures. The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to increase the number of government-sponsored Syrian refugees, provide additional resources to the visa office, grant temporary visas to eligible Syrians, speed up the processing of applications and suspend the return of any Syrians to their country until the situation improves.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Amnesty International for doing an outstanding job of raising awareness and encouraging action. Bravo to the people of Amnesty International for doing an exemplary job.
Rail Transportation February 25th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, there was another train derailment this past weekend. This time it happened in Saint-Henri, where 3,500 litres of diesel fuel were spilled. Since Lac-Mégantic, it has been one accident after another, and yet the government does nothing. There was nothing in the most recent budget for rail safety: still no deadline for the phase-out of the old DOT-111 cars and a lack of transparency regarding the transportation of explosive goods through our communities.
Does the minister realize that her inaction is putting lives at risk with each passing day?
Rail Transportation February 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, the minister talks about the past, but the victims in Lac-Mégantic are getting a little tired of the minister's inconsistency.
That is probably why they filed a class action lawsuit yesterday against Transport Canada for gross negligence. Transport Canada completely failed to enforce its own rail safety rules, as I mentioned in my previous question.
Does the minister recognize that, by allowing MMA to continue its operations despite repeated violations of the regulations, her government failed in its responsibility to protect Canadians?
Rail Transportation February 13th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, 21 violations were documented between 2004 and 2013, but MMA received no penalty here, whereas it received 28 fines in the United States. That is the rail safety record of the Conservatives and the Liberals.
Yesterday, the minister said, “If this company is found to have violated the rules and regulations of this country, it will absolutely be penalized to the ultimate extent of the law”.
The company has violated the rules and regulations 21 times. Why has it never been penalized?
Rail Transportation February 12th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, in the years prior to the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, MMA had multiple infractions of a safety rule that requires that a minimum number of handbrakes be applied to secure a train. Despite this abysmal safety record, no minister ever imposed any penalties on these offending companies.
Can the minister explain how, under Liberal and Conservative governments, MMA was able to repeatedly break safety rules without ever facing the consequences?
Business of Supply January 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for that very timely question.
It is precisely to study this issue that the NDP has requested an emergency meeting of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. Clearly there has been a lack of consultation. When we asked the government who in fact had been consulted, we found out that it had either invited people to submit their comments, or that they had been consulted online.
However, large organizations that represent the majority of the population, namely those affected by this decision, were not consulted. That goes for municipalities as well. However, they are directly affected, in particular Montreal, Toronto and other large urban centres, where questions continue to be asked on where these mailboxes will be located. There have been no discussions or consultations with the persons affected, whether elected representatives or members of the public. The whole thing has been a fiasco and that is why we are asking the government to reconsider this decision.
Business of Supply January 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I have two comments on what the parliamentary secretary said.
First, 33% of households have home mail delivery, while in 25% of cases, mail is delivered to the entrance of a residential building. In 5% of cases, mail is delivered to a rural mailbox. So then, the numbers are higher. The figures quoted by the parliamentary secretary are not correct.
As for banking transactions, that is a good question. We know that Canada Post has been a profitable corporation over the past 17 years. It posted revenues of about $1.7 billion. Canada Post did not actually post a deficit until a new CEO was appointed in 2011 and the government and the corporation locked out the workers. Last year, it posted earnings of $94 million. It is still turning a profit, so there is no emergency. However, I do agree that there are some challenges to overcome.
To answer the question about banking transactions, why were these options not even considered? Why did the government and Canada Post not carry out any studies, as was done in other countries, instead of arguing that this would be too complicated? We are asking for a clear study to explore all options and the government and Canada Post are refusing to do that. They are unwilling to explore different options and ways of boosting revenues. They simply want to shut the door and cut services. This is unacceptable.
Business of Supply January 28th, 2014
Mr. Speaker, I am so proud of the motion that my colleague from Trinity—Spadina moved that I will read it:
That, in the opinion of the House, door-to-door mail delivery is a valuable service provided by Canada Post, and that this House express its opposition to Canada becoming the only country in the G7 without such a service.
As the deputy critic for transport, I have been following this issue closely from the beginning. I am very proud to have worked on it with my colleague, our transport critic, and with the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. He has also worked very hard on this file and has talked about the adverse effect this change might have on postal workers.
Canada Post made the announcement after the House adjourned. This gave the Conservatives the chance to hide a bit and not talk about this issue.
The government is being criticized for allowing this to happen without any consultation. That is why we asked the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to hold an emergency meeting on this subject. I am very pleased that the committee granted our request. Before the holidays, we had a meeting to discuss some of the issues.
I want to come back to the announcement and its direct consequences. First, the announcement said that Canada Post would stop door-to-door mail delivery. That affects more than 5 million Canadians.
We are told that two-thirds of Canadians do not get their mail delivered at home. However, when we take a close look at the numbers, we see that is not true. Two-thirds of Canadians still get their mail delivered at home. When we are talking about multiple dwelling units or delivery in rural areas, this affect 5 million Canadians, as I explained. This will have a tremendous impact.
The motion says that we will be the only G7 country without a door-to-door mail delivery service. That is disgraceful and it makes no sense.
The government is being guided by Conference Board of Canada studies, one of which shows that Canada Post will ultimately run a deficit. I agree that Canada Post is facing challenges. We know that the mail has changed. The Internet is now part of the scenery, and fewer and fewer letters are delivered to homes. That is a fact.
There are alternatives to slashing services and increasing costs.
A startling increase in postal charges has been announced. I have a small flyer that is now being distributed in the mail. It talks about an increase that would raise the cost of a stamp to a dollar. That is a substantial increase that will have a direct impact on small business and on charities that depend on postal services.
We see that the announcement was made without consultation, even though the government claims that it did consult. Nevertheless, we know that in reality, it was a matter of invitations and online surveys.
I want to get back to the fact that in the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, we put the question to representatives of organizations that advocate on behalf of all people in Canada with a disability. These people are directly affected by this, and they were not consulted. We are talking about people with reduced mobility, people who will have difficulty getting to the new mailboxes. The problem is that organizations that represent all Canadians were unfortunately not consulted.
Seniors were neither consulted nor represented. We know that they are very concerned about the issue. On the very day that Canada Post made its announcement, I received a call from a citizen in my riding of Brossard—La Prairie. He told me that this was a horrible announcement for him and his wife, who are both retired. He used the word “horrible” because he realized the consequences this announcement could have for them.
When the CEO of Canada Post says that this decision will be good for seniors because it will help them to get more exercise, we see that he is truly out of touch with reality and lacks sensitivity.
First, the government must stop blindly supporting this decision by Canada Post. The NDP's proposals must be considered. We know that there are challenges and that Canada Post is facing changes. However, Canada Post does have an advantage with parcels. I will come back to that later.
With respect to our proposals, other ways must be found to modernize the services provided by Canada Post. Online services should be used. Many countries in the world are facing the same difficulties as Canada Post. Not only have they modernized, but they have also turned to online banking transactions. That has enabled them to increase their postal revenues and expand their services.
The Conservative plan seeks to cut services to the public and increase costs. In reality, this will lead to the disappearance of Canada Post. We want to save Canada Post. That is why NDP members are standing firm.
I was very proud to be there on Sunday, when more than 2,000 people showed up in Ottawa to express their dissatisfaction. We distinctly sensed the people's frustration. Indeed, postal workers were not the only ones there. People had come from everywhere. There were seniors and persons with reduced mobility. They wanted to shout out their dissatisfaction and tell the government to watch out and to reverse course. We still have time.
The decision to increase rates will unfortunately be made very soon, although home delivery will be phased out over five years. The government must reverse that decision and realize it is not considering all the disadvantaged people. When it uses figures indicating that two-thirds of Canadians already have their mail delivered to mailboxes, it knows that is false. The numbers are different. In fact they show instead that two-thirds of Canadians still have home delivery service. Mail delivery to residential buildings is a home service. The decision is therefore premature.
I asked the CEO of Canada Post in committee why he had not considered the option to provide banking services, for example, or financial services, as other countries have done, France and Italy in particular. Those countries faced the same challenges and found solutions that saved certain elements. I am not sure whether I was really surprised by the CEO's answer.
As he himself admitted, he is a volunteer member of the Conference Board of Canada, the same organization that came to this decision. He clearly told us they had not considered that option because postal service was not the same as financial services and because there was already enough competition in banking services.
However, people have no choice but to accept increases in bank fees precisely because there is not enough competition. We launched the "Stop pay-to-pay fees" campaign because we think it is ridiculous to have to pay for the privilege of paying your own bills. That is why we are fighting this. This is all part of the same struggle, as we see it. In the throne speech, the Conservatives said they would be there for consumers. The first thing they did was to abandon consumers.
The Conservatives are also cutting postal service hours. They have cut the business hours of retail postal outlets even in my riding, in Saint-Philippe. People are getting even less service. Privatization is already under way. The government does not want to admit it openly. When we ask whether they want to privatize Canada Post, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport says the decision is up to Canada Post. The truth however, is that it is up to the government.
If you look at the facts, the reality is that more and more postal stations are private and therefore converted. Privatization is therefore already under way. The NDP will continue to fight.
My NDP colleagues and I receive complaints from our constituents, and I know our Conservative colleagues get complaints as well. There is an outcry among people living with disabilities, seniors, small businesses and community organizations, for example. We are asking the government to listen to Canadians and to respond. We are asking it to reverse course and to support the NDP's motion.