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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is conservatives.

NDP MP for Laval (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 43.30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Holiday Season December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we are approaching the end of this parliamentary session, which was marked by a record number of time allocation motions imposed by the Conservative government in order to pass its contentious bills, cut essential public services and undermine the democratic process of voting through what I would call electoral “deform”.

More than 850,000 Canadians currently rely on food banks to feed themselves. That is an aberration in a country like ours and it illustrates the failure of this government's policies.

Before we all leave to spend the holidays with our families, I would like to express the hope—perhaps an overly optimistic one—that as they celebrate Christmas and the New Year in the warmth of their homes, the Conservatives will think a little more about Canadians and about all those who are dealing with budget cuts, unemployment, the lack of affordable housing, insecurity and injustice.

Merry Christmas to all my colleagues and all the residents of Laval.

Canada Post November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, people in my riding are angry about the government's decision to get rid of home mail delivery, and so they should be. This will be hardest on the elderly and those with reduced mobility. I should point out that Canada Post has made a profit of $84 million already this year.

Why do the Conservatives want to eliminate a service that is essential to the people of Laval?

Business of Supply November 27th, 2014

In fact, Mr. Speaker, we know that the government is trying to cut $36 billion from the budget for the health system all over Canada.

I think the Conservatives should review and really take care of improving and controlling the research in a proper manner. That is what the government should be aware of and be taking care of for all the citizens of this magnificent country.

I do not have any particular comment on how the Conservatives are now working on it, but it is a matter of the budget, because we know that the research and funds for it have lately been in very bad standing in the government.

After 2015 we will repair all those malfeasances and problems that the Conservatives have been carrying out year after year.

Business of Supply November 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very relevant question. The government needs to take action as soon as possible and clean up this mess.

The member is quite right. From what I have read, the United Kingdom, Germany and some other countries have already taken concrete action to prescribe that drug in the case of specific illnesses or ailments that carry less risk. I also learned that this drug was used to treat AIDS in the United States. It remains to be seen whether they achieved the desired results. Has compensation for patients in the case of abnormalities or medical constraints been proposed? No.

Yes, we are lagging behind, but it is time to take action and adopt this motion.

Business of Supply November 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize the initiative of my colleague from Vancouver East, who moved this motion. She has raised an important issue that should be acknowledged and that the government should follow up on immediately. That is why our caucus strongly supports this motion.

I also want to thank my colleague from Surrey North, who gave us some background on this calamity and this medical drug. This drug was originally developed in 1952, in West Germany. At the time, it passed a series of tests. Even in 1956, there were no indications that this drug was toxic, and it had been tested a number of times on animals and human beings. After 1957, this drug was primarily marketed to people diagnosed with leprosy and digestive problems. This kind of medication was also prescribed for pregnant women with morning sickness, even though its effects were not well known.

After reading quite a bit on the history of this drug, I was somewhat troubled to learn that the Canadian government approved the drug for sale in 1961. At that time, there was a Progressive Conservative government in place that, one might say, did not bother to push for more research—perhaps because of its policies—before approving this drug for sale and before authorizing physicians to prescribe it.

It is fairly natural for pregnant women to experience morning sickness at various stages of their pregnancy. At times, it is advisable to use natural medicine and old-fashioned methods, as our grandparents would have done, to alleviate this natural inconvenience.

I would also like to point out that according to the report approving the sale and prescription of this drug, the drug was found to be fairly safe, meaning that it did not cause any apparent harm to people. I think it was more likely a lack of research or the fact that the information was not adequately analyzed. The problem with all this is that here we are, 50 years later, addressing the issue of compensation for these victims, when it has long been a concern.

In 1961, when many people complained about being subjected to this unfair treatment, the Conservative government of the day refused to listen to them and grant them fair compensation. That really bothers me.

Now, it is thanks to an effective official opposition that we are putting forward a motion to have the government recognize these people's right to compensation. This bothers me so much that I think we need to open the government's eyes. We have to be vigilant and ask questions about everything that the organizations responsible for this kind of thing do, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. According to my information on that organization, the drug is still available for sale, but is used to treat other maladies.

It is good to know that the government is finally paying attention to the people affected by this medical catastrophe and that compensation that should have been paid long ago is on its way.

I truly believe that this is great timing for the motion moved by my colleague from Vancouver East. Any government hoping for re-election or seeking to repair the damage it caused by not listening and by imposing time allocation over and over to push through bills it supports will probably want to project an image of a government that listens and does the right thing.

We support this motion and we hope it really will pass so that we can make up for the damage done to so many people who are even now living with the consequences.

As I said, when I found out some of that information about thalidomide from so long ago, it really bothered me because human rights and consumer rights are so important to me.

People receiving treatment, be it from a doctor or other health care specialist, need to know their rights before agreeing to follow the doctor's instructions. In addition, doctors are responsible for informing patients of the risks related to the treatments they agree to.

Deportations November 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, although we have been closely monitoring the outcomes of immigration cases in my riding of Laval, there have been more than five cases of family separation as a result of deportation measures taken by the Canada Border Services Agency. I should point out that these cases involve children who were born or who grew up in Canada.

Florentino Morel, the mother of two-and-a-half-year-old Laéticia, born in Quebec, was forced to leave the country with her husband and daughter. The Munoz Gallegos family received an order to leave the country within 25 days. That is 25 days to liquidate their assets, cancel follow-ups for medical treatment, take a child out of school—the child also has to leave—and leave the country where they thought they had found refuge.

These devastating separations are forced on young children and their parents, and these families are increasingly facing unrealistic timelines. Where are the values of humanity and justice? What is worse, the processes at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada and at the agency are completely incompatible and work in completely different ways.

What happened? What about the children's rights?

Canadian Armed Forces November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on November 1, I had the honour of participating in the inauguration of a commemorative monument in honour of veterans of Portuguese origin at Pedro Da Silva park in Laval. This is a reminder that, as my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore said yesterday, Canadians of many different origins have fought side by side, a reflection of the diverse and inclusive Canadian society that we love and laud.

I would like to salute Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Jourdain, outgoing commander of the 4th Battalion Royal 22nd Regiment, for his 35 years of service.

I would also like to mention the involvement of members of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 251, Chomedey, which organized next Sunday's ceremony in Laval for Remembrance Day 2014.

Lest we forget.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord for his question.

Those are the criteria that our caucus strongly believes will help us protect Canada's best interests when negotiating a free trade agreement. My colleague mentioned his meeting with the hon. South Korean consul.

Furthermore, The Biotech City is in my riding. Most companies and laboratories in The Biotech City have rather close ties to Korean pharmaceutical companies. However, what is most important is the interaction between unions and the quality of life of Korean workers. That is a good thing and we should do the same here.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for his very interesting question.

Yes, Canada is very technologically advanced, especially in the aerospace industry. I can attest to that, because the aerospace industry is very present in Laval. From what I hear, some companies have done business with South Korean partners in the past. Our main partners are usually in Brazil, but there have been some productive meetings with businesses from South Korea.

As my colleague just said when he was talking about his province, this trade can benefit Canada by helping us get into Asian markets, especially when it comes to the aerospace industry and aircraft construction. If our aerospace corporations and conglomerates set up shop there, the market will be closer and those companies will be able to do very well in that sector.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise this evening and speak to Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea.

Like my colleagues, I am very pleased to say that our caucus is prepared to support this bill at third reading. At the same time, I would like to clarify certain points related to the amendments we suggested and proposed in committee meetings. Unfortunately, they were rejected by our Liberal and Conservative colleagues.

I particularly want to emphasize the criteria that the NDP caucus has always insisted on regarding the negotiation of free trade agreements. They can be summed up in three little points—small but also very important points—that have far-reaching significance. We know that a partner proposing a free trade treaty must respect democracy, human rights and proper environmental and labour standards. Naturally, these are Canadian values, and both countries must agree on these ideas.

The second point is that we should ask ourselves this question: is the potential partner's economy of significant or strategic value to Canada? That is obvious. We know that South Korea is a developing country, but one that is quite advanced. It is one of Canada's primary trading partners in Asia. Canada's clear need to diversify its international trade is a step in the right direction.

When I was studying economics and international marketing, I became aware that our country, Canada, was really very dependent on the economy of our neighbour to the south, the United States, to such an extent that some 80% to 85% of our exports were going south of the border.

Still, that need has always been great, since Canada has always emphasized the development of new markets for its technology and natural resources. That is why our international trade strategies came to focus on free trade agreements of all sorts. It all started with NAFTA in the 1980s. Later, there were more treaties with a number of developing countries. We supported some of these agreements and disagreed with others.

The third criterion concerns the terms of the agreement. This is an important point. One of the main problems we raised in committee relates to the resolution of trade disputes. We submitted amendments, corrections and modifications concerning certain aspects of this free trade treaty. From the perspective of the ethics of a democratic country, there is no problem. However, resolution of trade disputes should absolutely not be part of this agreement. This should not be dealt with by the government. We firmly believe that any trade dispute must be resolved through the appropriate legal processes.

The free trade agreement with Korea offers Canada a significant opportunity to diversify its economy. This is another step in the right direction, because we rely a great deal here on natural resources, and if I recall correctly, this was the main sticking point regarding one of the specific items in other free trade treaties. In those treaties, much criticism was levelled at the approach taken by Canada, which wanted only to export raw materials, without even putting them through some sort of processing that would have given them uniquely Canadian added value, highlighting our expertise and our technologies.

This free trade treaty with Korea is a step in the right direction, because that country enjoys support from a broad coalition of economic stakeholders in Canada. This partner shows that it has a firmly established democracy where human rights are respected. It also has adequate environmental and labour standards. The unions are firmly established and all have an affinity with Canadian values.

In all secondary or manufacturing sectors—to put it precisely, as we should—such as heavy industry, wood products, agriculture, food processing, seafood and high tech, we can genuinely share the expertise of each country and find a win-win formula somewhere, as should be the case for any trade with other countries.

We should note certain other important facts relating to these treaties. Korea is a member of the G20. It ranks fifteenth among those 20 countries, which puts it relatively high on the ladder. Korea is Canada’s seventh-largest trading partner. Obviously, this is something that must not be forgotten. In fact, Canadian imports have already lost about 30% of the ground. We have been backsliding and we need to catch up.

I would remind members that this free trade treaty has been in negotiation since 2005, or for nearly a decade; it has been at least nine years. We do not understand why the government did not move forward with this sooner. I suppose that, as usual, it was because of the Conservatives' laissez-faire attitude and mismanagement of our country's economy. It is all very well to announce that there will be job creation, but at the end of the day, we see that it never amounts to anything concrete.

Korea is a democracy and the fourth-largest economy in the entire Asian region.

To conclude briefly, we have certain affinities with some countries and South Korean opposition parties. They, like us, in our caucus, think that the investor state dispute settlement mechanism, as proposed in this agreement, must be eliminated.

I hope that at third reading stage, someone will think it would be worth reconsidering this situation, to make it acceptable to everyone.

We New Democrats know that international trade is essential to Canada's prosperity, and we have sought for a long time to diversify our trade with our trading partners in all regions of the world, including Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa.