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  • His favourite word is energy.

NDP MP for Vaudreuil-Soulanges (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 43.60% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present in the House a petition signed by my constituents calling on the Government of Canada to pass legislation to create an ombudsman for the corporate social responsibility of Canadian extractive corporations in developing countries.

Points of Order December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I noted during question period that there were two instances when the government referred to the absence or presence of members in the House. I would like to remind members of long standing in the House that they cannot refer to the absence or presence of members.

Citizenship and Immigration November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canada's and Ontario's official languages commissioners say that francophone minority communities are not reaping the benefits of francophone immigration. Barely 2% of francophone newcomers settle outside of Quebec.

Will the minister implement the commissioners' recommendations to ensure that our francophone minority communities reap the benefits of welcoming francophone newcomers?

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if the government put energy into implementation and administration, and backed it up with people and firm numbers that actually made sense for the protection of these areas, then perhaps we could entertain the idea that this would be done responsibly. The government has not even put anything from the budget into the administration of these areas, which renders the whole planning process meaningless.

The government has ignored the people who have made boundary decisions. There is not a huge population up in the Arctic, so a figure like 1,600 people is significant and a figure of 65 people expressing a boundary interest is significant, and should be taken into account.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act November 6th, 2014

As I mentioned before in my speech, Mr. Speaker, the government obviously entered into the planning process in bad faith. At the beginning of the process, it already had in mind that it would maximize mining interests in the park and it held on to that idea in the face of scientific analysis and in the face of public consultation.

The government used the planning and public consultation process as a way to legitimize its bad decision of maximizing mining interests for the sole goal of short-term growth against long-term ecological planning for future generations.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I did not get the time to discuss Forman's ideas, Forman from Harvard, who is also an ecological planner. He has the idea of connectivity of interior habitat, patches and mosaics. Basically, when a landscape is fragmented, disturbances are created in the systems that are there. When we talk about faunal systems such as caribou or other wildlife, by fragmenting the habitat, the connectivity is sometimes ruined, which ruins breeding grounds, feeding, different elements of the habitat of certain wildlife species.

In choosing the smallest plan and cutting out the heart and allowing mining interests, there will be much more fragmentation, and this will have a much greater impact on wildlife groups in the park.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to rise to speak to Bill S-5, the Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act.

New Democrats, in principle, support the creation of new national parks and the conservation of key ecosystems and habitat. We are glad to support the bill.

However, often politicians make their decisions based on politics. When we are looking at conservation issues, when we are looking at ecology, political boundaries do not always mesh with ecological boundaries. They are two different things. Perhaps a better way to look at planning parks and planning our ecological future would be to pay more attention to ecological boundaries.

My background is in landscape architecture. Before I was a politician, I was a professional landscape architect. We learned all scales of landscape planning, from the backyard of someone's house all the way to regions and regional planning. The bill is something that is very close to what I used to do, and I can see there are weaknesses in the bill. One of the things that we learned as landscape architects is that rather than a political unit for planning ecologically, the watershed should be the essential unit that is used for landscape planning.

What I am going to talk about is two great figures in the field of ecological planning. I am sure that when this was sent to Parks Canada, when the planners working with Parks Canada were looking at establishing this national park, they used some of the methods that are outlined by the two great figures in ecological planning.

One is Fritz Steiner, from the University of Texas. The second one would be Richard Forman from Harvard University. Steiner's planning method has 11 steps. The reason I am going to be talking about the 11 steps of Steiner's planning method is that I am going to go stage by stage through the planning process, and explain what went wrong during the planning of this park and how the government was not vigilant enough or perhaps, more skeptically, how the government might not have honoured the planning process properly in developing this park.

The first step of the planning method is to identify planning problems and opportunities. From looking at the end result in the bill, I suspect that the government identified the issue as mining versus the ecological system. It pitted these two things against each other, asking how it could promote mining in the area while balancing it with ecological protection.

The second step of the planning is that the stakeholder establishes goals. Again, the end result here shows that the government's objective was probably to maximize mining potential in the area rather than to have an equilibrium between the ecological systems and mining. I suspect that because what the government came up with at the end of the process was an area much smaller than what was asked for.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth steps are all scientific steps. A regional landscape analysis is done, a local landscape analysis is done, detailed studies are done, and planning area concepts are developed, all for the final step of preparing the landscape plan.

What the government did was that it presented three options: a large park that preserved key ecological areas, a more medium-sized park that sort of balanced the two, and then the smallest size, which maximized the mining potential. In coming up with the plan, the government came up with these three options, three plans.

The next step in Steiner's process is crucial. It is the step of citizen involvement.

The consultations revealed that the people supported the plan that was the most likely to protect the ecological heritage, and that was the largest park. They wanted the biggest park so that as much as possible would be protected. However, the Conservatives ignored what the people said. Counter to the facts, the Conservatives decided on a small zone and neglected to include some very important wildlife areas.

On Radio-Canada International, Stephen Kakfwi said that the government had taken the heart right out of the park, leaving the door open to mining exploration, a gaping hole in the middle of the national park.

Therefore, in ignoring the people of the area, the Conservative government has made a mockery of the whole planning process. Those scientific steps I mentioned take a lot of time. There is science that goes into it. There is a lot of consultation and analysis. In doing so, it is actually quite a costly process. It is costly for a reason. The people who are employed in the planning sector have to undergo a long education. They take, sometimes, 10 or 20 years to learn exactly how the landscape works. They develop an in-depth knowledge of the landscape and of the science of the systems of the landscape in order to preserve that landscape for future generations.

We often see, in all scales of landscape projects, that developers have an idea in mind. They have to go through the consultation and the analysis process out of policy requirements, yet their will is something else. They might actually go through all the steps of the planning process just to be able to implement the idea they always had in their heads.

I suspect that is the case today with this project and this national park, because it appears that the fix was in from the start. When it was at the first stage of planning, which was identifying planning problems and opportunities, and the second, which was establishing goals, the government had decided already that it was going to promote mining interests in this area. By promoting mining interests, it let the scientists and planners do their jobs and let them develop the three options to show that it was being responsible, but it always had in mind that it was going to choose the option with the least ecological protection and the most for mining interests.

I guess that would have been acceptable if when the government went to the actual consultation process it heard that people wanted the option that promotes mining interests the most. If it had said that, then it would have been acceptable. It would have gone through the steps and would have been able to convince the people of the area that this is what they wanted, for the mining companies to do their job there as much as possible. However, that was not the case. What happened was that people spoke out and said they did not want the smallest area preserved; they wanted the largest area preserved.

I would like to deliver this message to the people in the Arctic, in the Nahanni watershed. Under an NDP government they would not have to worry. We would consider expanding the park to the size that was desired.

My last point refers to the final steps in Steiner's planning process, which are implementation and administration. We could go through all the other steps of planning but if we do not implement the plan vigilantly and administer it vigilantly, then there really is no purpose to any of the planning process that goes on, because no one is watching what is actually being done in that area. I strongly suspect, looking at past budgets and the current budget, not enough capital has been put into these crucial steps in the protection of this area.

Although we will support the bill at second reading, we believe there is a lot lacking in the plan for this national park.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if we had implemented smart growth policies 20 years ago, we would be in a much different situation with infrastructure.

Facing a lack of rational economic policy from the other side, I would like to engage in a visioning exercise with my friend from Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

The member knows that global competitiveness is being harmed in Canada. Countries which are succeeding, such as Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, all have robust cradle-to-grave programs from compassionate governments, and it pays economically.

If we look at Finland, which has had universal access to quality child care since 1990 and pre-school since 1996, the outcomes that have been tested and measured in Finland show it is more competitive globally as a whole society.

Finland's head of international relations for Helsinki's education department says that it is not a place where people dump their children when they are working. It is a place for their children to play, learn and make friends. Good parents put their children in day care. It is not related to socio-economic status.

Could my friend from Skeena—Bulkley Valley elaborate on the vision the NDP has in place of this imagined—

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, 20 years ago, one of the members of the House said:

...in the interest of democracy I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns? We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others. How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.

The Prime Minister believed that 20 years ago. Where has the Prime Minister been in the past 20 years to lose such faith in those fundamental values of democracy?

Events of October 22, 2014 October 28th, 2014

We seldom speak about love in this place, yet who can deny that this force in our lives, above all others, transcends our daily troubles and binds us to one another?

In the frantic moments of last Wednesday, many of us found ourselves side by side with people from other parties and with the people who make this place work, the staff of the House of Commons.

I had the good fortune to find myself with Jud Simpson and the employees in food services who nourish us every day. Jud, Rabiâ and Dominique, the senior staff, maintained supreme calm under the circumstances. They showed love and compassion for others in the building by continually contacting security with an offer to deliver food to those in lockdown.

Imagine if only love and compassion permeated our every action? Too often, we are coloured by fear.

The love of my wife, Amanda MacDonald; my daughter Pera; my mother Linda St-Maurice; Penny, Ian and Ryan MacDonald; Neil and Carol Nicholls; and friends and citizens of Vaudreuil—Soulanges is what carried me through these difficult circumstances.

I believe Barbara Winters, in comforting Nathan Cirillo in his last moments, gave the most important message we could give anyone in this life, “You are so loved”.

Let us build a society based upon love, for freedom is only valuable if we integrate it with love.