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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is colleague.

NDP MP for Chambly—Borduas (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 42.70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Health and Fitness Day Act October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as the NDP critic for sport, I am pleased to speak to this Senate bill, which was sponsored by my colleague. The bill seeks to establish a national day to promote health and fitness.

Let me just say first that my colleague from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country has done phenomenal work on this issue. As the sports critic for the NDP, it has been a pleasure to work with him on this issue. I am really trying to find a solution to the inactivity that seems to plague our youth.

It was funny. We had meetings. It is actually Sport Matters lobby day on the Hill today. That is appropriate timing, as far as I am concerned. One of its representatives used the word “inertia” in speaking about the need to move forward. I thought the choice of words was appropriate because it is what we are trying to solve here today.

There is still reason to be concerned about this issue. Over the past 40 years, many governments have tried to find solutions to the problem of inactivity. A report issued by the World Health Organization shows that total calorie intake changed only slightly at a time of a sharp increase in obesity.

This makes us think about the risk factors. Video games and cell phones certainly play a role, but blaming these technologies oversimplifies the problem and prevents us from implementing good public policies that will help us to resolve the issue.

Let us talk about the bill that is before us today. It raises an important question. My colleague opposite, who introduced the bill, often says that it is important for parliamentarians to set an example. After all, he, along with the member for Etobicoke North and my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore, has always promoted physical activity among members. It is all well and good to talk about it, but we also have to do it so that we do not look hypocritical.

This is not just about us. It is important to encourage community members. In my work as sport critic, I look at both elite and amateur sports. For example, I look at the Olympics and international sporting events hosted in Canada, such as the figuring skating championships held last year in London, Ontario, and the 2015 Pan Am Games that will be held in Toronto.

The elite sports system is well structured, but there is work to be done at the local level. That is what we like in this bill sponsored by my colleague and Senator Nancy Greene. The NDP strongly believes that we need to work more with the provinces and municipalities to ensure that they have the tools they need not only to promote elite sports but also to encourage average Canadians to use the sports facilities at their disposal. That is one of the reasons why we support this bill.

We cannot deny that accessibility is something an issue. I come from a community in the greater Montreal area, in Chambly—Borduas, on the south shore. People in Chambly are very fortunate. It is a very well-managed city that now has three hockey arenas. These people have access to a lot of facilities, but that is unfortunately not the case everywhere.

I hope that this national day to encourage people to use these municipal facilities will highlight the fact that all parties and stakeholders need to work together to help promote investments and awareness of infrastructure needs.

It is all well and good to encourage people of all ages to participate in sports and live an active life, but if they do not have the tools to live this lifestyle, we will end up back at square one. That is something very important to consider.

What is more, we have looked at a lot in committee. When we study amateur coaching, when we study preparations for the Olympic Games and our athletes, of whom we are so proud, different elements keep coming back, and there is still ongoing debate about what the solutions would be. As I said at the beginning of my speech, I do not think we have yet found the solution. Governments have been looking for solutions for decades.

What I appreciate about the bill is that we are putting forward a day to encourage folks to think about their health and to go out and participate in sports and use the installations that are available in municipalities. I think it allows us a chance to continue the debate. Every time this House votes on a bill to put forward a national day representing issue X, whether it is dealing with awareness of an illness or, in this case, dealing with something more positive, promoting an active lifestyle, the day is important, yes, but we as New Democrats are supporting the bill because it would also allow us to continue a discussion that my colleague has been at the forefront of with different stakeholders that have been involved in promoting this particular issue.

I think the government has tried to put forward different measures to try to solve this issue, such as the children's fitness tax credit and other such measures, but, unfortunately, they have met with varying degrees of success. They have not always been the solutions that have been required, and that is why having this debate is so important.

I mentioned going to the local level and not just looking at league sports, because one thing that comes back often when we study sports issues—in committee in particular, but even when we meet with stakeholders—is that we need to think of sports as a pyramid. Yes, we need to look at that small piece at the top, our lead athletes, of whom we are very proud, as I mentioned. We want to continue promoting them and allowing them to succeed because, contrary to what it may seem like, it is not always a glamorous life. These folks work very hard. They are great role models for the folks at the bottom of that pyramid, the folks a bill like this would help out and push forward in having active lifestyles. We really need to not forget the community level.

That is our challenge. Our Olympians are role models. Our athletes set an example for our kids. It is really important to have the bottom of the pyramid at the provincial and municipal levels, as I said earlier, like the rising tide that lifts all boats.

I think that is really important.

It is important that youth have more than just one day in which to participate. There needs to be a follow-up to that day. I think it is an excellent start, and that is why I am very pleased to be supporting the bill.

To conclude, I would like to come back to the first speeches I made as sport critic two years ago. Active Healthy Kids Canada had published a report that gave Canadian youth a D for their participation in sports. There are kids who are inactive. The report did not point to any causes, but there are many. That report really hit home.

This important issue is also reflected in the work I have done with the Minister of State for Sport; we have a very good working relationship. This is not a partisan issue. When we see those kinds of results in a report, we are all concerned because this is a health issue and it will cost money.

Yesterday, at our Movember reception, Senator Green made an interesting comment when she said that our health care system is, at times, more like a disease management system. We treat diseases, but we also need to think about prevention, and that is where sports can play an incredibly positive role. As legislators, we need to encourage that.

That is why we support the bill, which is sponsored by the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country. This bill is a good first step because it establishes a day for raising awareness and encouraging people to participate.

This will allow us to continue this debate, bring forward good public policy, and encourage our communities to have an active lifestyle. We hope the repercussions of maintaining good health will be positive.

Again I want to commend my colleague. We are proud to support this bill, and we hope to pursue this debate in future.

Prostate Cancer October 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, November is just around the corner, and a new Movember campaign of facial hair and virility is set to begin. This year, I am pleased once again to be the captain of our NDP team.

Movember is an opportunity to have fun while raising awareness about and collecting money for men's health. Last year, more than $33 million was raised in Canada alone.

It is not just about money, though. We cannot forget the invaluable conversations that men are now having about their health, thanks in large part to Movember. For New Democrats, participating in Movember campaigns over the years has been a privilege. Thinking of Jack Layton's famous mo and his own battle against prostate cancer serves as incredible inspiration.

For Jack and for all our fathers and brothers, it is a great pleasure that we once again flaunt our moustaches to raise money and awareness. I invite all my colleagues to join with us and help change the face of men's health. Let us mo.

The Senate October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Liberal and Conservative senators are angry.

Not only did the Auditor General have the nerve to question their spending, but he also had the nerve to send in young people. Some senators have never seen a young twentysomething accountant.

Liberal Senator Joseph Day said he was concerned that the auditors were young.

One Conservative complained about a 22-year-old kid running around asking him questions about his spending, and he was critical of these young auditors sticking their noses in his business. Taxpayers pay for his business.

That is the Canadian Senate: useless, unelected officials who object as soon as they are asked to be accountable for their $92 million budget.

What is worse is that the Prime Minister and the Liberal leader claim that this archaic institution, which refuses to be accountable, is still relevant.

The NDP will continue to get our young people involved, to be proud of them and to let them defend the interests of taxpayers while the Conservatives just neglect them.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act October 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will use my three minutes to quickly say that we will support Bill S-5 because it is a step in the right direction. However, as all my colleagues have pointed out this afternoon, the bill has some flaws that we hope can be fixed in committee.

My colleagues have already given some examples, but I want to illustrate these flaws with some examples from my own riding of the government's mismanagement when it comes to reserves, environmental protection and budget allocations for Parks Canada.

The easiest examples would be Fort Chambly and the Fryer dam. I am currently looking into this to see whether the government has any plans. These two properties belong to Parks Canada. Even though Fort Chambly is a historic site from the War of 1812, it did not receive anything at all, because the francophone aspect was completely ignored. Charles de Salaberry went from Chambly all the way to Châteauguay for the Battle of Châteauguay. During the War of 1812, he was the only francophone commander. Despite that, absolutely nothing was received to improve the infrastructure that belongs to Parks Canada. That is a perfect example.

The other example I mentioned is the Fryer dam. In fact, it is a dyke, as the historical society likes to remind me all the time. My predecessor, Phil Edmonston, an NDP MP, worked hard on this file in 1990. This has been dragging on for a long time under Liberal and Conservative governments. On the ground, officials at Parks Canada—which has an office for eastern Quebec in Chambly—and the municipalities are willing to work on improving this infrastructure, but the budgets have been cut.

In the minute I have remaining, I want to provide one last example. As my colleague mentioned just now, we are talking about biospheres. Mont Saint-Hilaire is the first UNESCO-designated biosphere site in Canada. It received its designation in the 1970s. Fortunately, with the participation of the Gault Nature Reserve of McGill University and thanks to the tremendous work done by members of the public, a greenbelt has been secured. That is good for the environment and for the economy because we are protecting our orchards, which are a major tourist draw in the region. If it were not for the public, the university and the volunteers who work at the nature centre, the cuts would be unbearable, as my colleague said.

This is another example of the government's mismanagement when it comes to protecting the environment, protecting tourism in our regions and, most of all, properly equipping the people at Parks Canada so that we can celebrate our heritage. The government says that all these things are its priorities, but unfortunately, the reality on the ground is quite different, especially in Quebec.

National Defence September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canadian soldiers are taking part in a war, and contrary to what we just heard, the government refuses to answer basic questions.

We still do not have any information on the exact number of soldiers taking part in this war and, again, unlike what we just heard, we have not received any real information on the exact duration of the mission in response to the opposition's questions.

Unlike the Liberals who are prepared to give the Conservatives carte blanche, as usual, we are trying to get more information. The Prime Minister and his parliamentary secretary refuse to be accountable to Canadians. Their presentation yesterday was pathetic.

When asked if he would condemn this, the member for Kitchener Centre used a horrible comparison. He compared women's weight to the farce we saw in this House yesterday.

Gender issues and terrible comparisons aside, it is obvious the Conservatives know how wrong they are on this. The purpose of asking questions in this House, again compared to what we have heard from that member, is to get answers, not to ask questions for nothing. Failing to provide those answers is disrespectful to this institution, to Canadians, and to our soldiers. Canadians deserve better.

Petitions September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed over the summer by several hundred of my constituents. The petition is about cuts at Canada Post and their impact on our seniors, people with reduced mobility and businesses. It is a follow-up to public consultations held in Chambly with my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

Employment June 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon criticized the high youth unemployment rate, describing it as an epidemic and a major challenge for our times. He is right. Young people are increasingly likely to take unstable, low-paying jobs. Over the past 12 months, Canada lost 47,800 full-time jobs for young people. My generation is getting further and further away from the prosperous society our parents dreamed we would have.

Can the government finally explain to us why it has failed to address youth underemployment and unemployment?

Questions on the Order Paper June 19th, 2014

With regard to the children’s fitness tax credit, do Canadian Heritage or Sport Canada have studies in their possession measuring the impact that this tax credit has on the level of sports participation among young Canadians and the impact that it has on parents’ decisions to register their children in physical activities that are eligible for the tax credit?

Victims Bill of Rights Act June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is ironic to hear the minister say that time allocation motions have been used throughout Canadian history. When time allocation was used by the Liberals, his party and his prime minister said that it was an affront to Parliament.

I really wonder if he understands that we want to hear from Canadians in committee and that we also represent Canadians. My riding has 99,000 voters and a population of 130,000 people. I do not think that many of them attend committee meetings. That is why I am here, and that is true of all my colleagues and the minister's colleagues as well.

I would like to respond to what he said to my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île when he talked about how we could not raise 25 members to stand and prevent the leader of the official opposition from testifying. First of all, the opposition leader had the courage to testify, unlike most of the ministers in this place. Second, the Speaker ruled that the manoeuvre was not allowed.

In closing, I wonder what he really means when he talks about being on duty. Last Thursday, they had a bit of trouble getting back to the House to vote at 11 p.m. We wonder who is really on duty.

Is he not tired of seeing his government act this way?

Committees of the House June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will take the opportunity to congratulate those folks from the Northwest Territories.

Coming from the north, I appreciate the member's comments. That is exactly where we see how sports can be a bridge for folks. Considering Canada's geographic and social diversity, I think one of the elements that can bridge that is sports. That is something we can all agree on.

Hopefully this report is a first step in that right direction and in the work that we can continue to do on this file.