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NDP MP for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Québec)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 33.80% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Committees of the House May 21st, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by the hon. member for Okanagan—Shuswap, and I have two questions for him.
The Conservatives have not yet discussed the impact of the Canada job grant with the provinces. Does the hon. member think that the provinces are partners when it comes to employment in Canada, or does he think they get in the way more than anything?
Moreover, the Conservatives have spent thousands of dollars to advertise a program that has not yet been implemented. My colleague from Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher asked the question previously, but the hon. member did not really answer, so I will repeat it. Why spend thousands of dollars for a program that does not even exist?
Peace and Friendship Awareness May 21st, 2013
Mr. Speaker, today, the Peace and Friendship Awareness Walk arrived in Ottawa.
Adam Barnaby, Christianne Bernard, Tina Caplin, Doris Martin, Richard Martin and Ryan Papineau all walked from Listuguj First Nation in the Gaspé all the way to Ottawa, starting 21 days ago, meeting many first nations along the way. They are calling for the respect of treaty rights and better environmental protection.
Their initiative is just the latest example of the leadership the Mi’kmaq Nations have taken in the Gaspé and across Atlantic Canada. From employment insurance to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, from wind energy production to salmon river protection, the Mi’kmaq are leaders in the many issues that impact Eastern Canada.
Their leadership is a perfect example of the benefits of working together.
I thank all of the walkers for reaching out to us. Now it is up to us to reciprocate.
Government Expenditures May 10th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it is not surprising that they do not want the process to be transparent. They seem to have a hard time with basic accounting principles.
Earlier this week, the Conservatives avoided the issue when we asked them to explain the part of the Auditor General's report detailing money that was tracked. Part of the money went to “services of a security expert to advise a host country on security matters related to the staging of an international sporting event”.
My question is simple. What event was this? Who was the expert? Who approved the spending?
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia May 10th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, May 17 marks International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Created in 2003 in Quebec, this initiative is now commemorated throughout the world.
Even today, homosexuality is still a crime in many countries. Cyberhomophobia is a growing problem. Transgendered people are being refused access to medical care and denied marriage and family rights. Violence and murder are still tragically frequent in this community.
In Canada and throughout the world, from Russia to Cameroon, from Lebanon to Vietnam, LGBT activists are fighting with passion and conviction for their safety, integrity and equality.
With the largest LGBT caucus in the history of this House, and the staunch solidarity of the Leader of the Opposition, the NDP is standing up for and standing proud with our diverse, vibrant and determined lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities.
Successfully passing the gender identity bill was just one more step on the way to the dream and the goal of a society free of homophobia and of transphobia.
Tourism Industry May 8th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the minister's plan is not working. The number of tourists coming to Canada has dropped in recent years.
His colleague at Fisheries and Oceans is ignoring the importance of Rocher Percé to the tourism industry in Gaspé. Thus, I would like to ask a minister from Quebec to answer my question.
Some 400,000 people travel to Rocher Percé every year. This creates hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in economic spinoffs. Busloads of tourists will soon start arriving.
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is out of touch with the Gaspé. Could his colleague responsible for tourism answer my question, and tell me his plans for reopening the Percé wharf—
Tourism Industry May 7th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, the situation is urgent.
The minister has been aware of the wharf's state of disrepair for years now, yet he did nothing. Following a formal demand from the town and thanks to our questions here in the House and public pressure, engineers finally went to assess the condition of the Percé wharf.
Is the minister aware of the deplorable state of other wharves in the region? Will he commit to the House to no longer let federal wharves deteriorate so badly that they have to be closed? Will he commit here today to repairing the Percé wharf immediately?
Tourism Industry May 7th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, when I asked my question yesterday about the closure of the Percé wharf, the minister did not seem to grasp the urgency of the situation.
This morning, the mayor of Percé explained the situation in his own way when he removed the barrier, reopening the wharf to pedestrians. The wharf is one of the region's key tourist attractions. Closing it condemns the entire Gaspé region.
Can the minister assure this House that the necessary work will be done in the next few days?
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, we are going through a period in which the government appears to be circumventing the idea of building consensus in the country. It disregards the parliamentary tools at its disposal to assist it in building consensus. On the contrary, it constantly seeks to oppose. The government does not want to discuss. Once again, there is very little debate about a bill as important as Bill C-60, which will amend 59 laws. Previously, there was very little debate on Bills C-38 and C-45, which amended more than 70 laws.
The same thing happened to a number of bills introduced during the 41st Parliament, or ever since the Conservatives have held a majority. They do not want to take the time to listen to the public's concerns and needs. They disregard them. This is a highly ideological government, which does not listen to the people and has difficulty justifying itself.
We cannot continue this way. We absolutely need a government that listens, that responds to needs, that has a long-term vision and that can promote sustainable economic growth. The goal was not to introduce bills full of ad hoc measures, to turn back time in order to eliminate protections previously put in place or to deregulate industries to the point where the invisible hand of the market reigns supreme.
We have seen the consequences of this kind of thinking, which was at the root of the economic crisis of 2008. We do not want to see that happen again. We want something sustainable. We have no lessons to learn from the present government.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. Investment is a given. The government has powerful tools at its disposal to help industry and the economy. Regarding seasonal work in the regions, it is essential to think long term if we want to ensure sustainable regional economies. The government must invest. The only organization capable of supporting jobs in the regions is the federal government. It then follows that the government has a very important role to play in support of seasonal industries.
Let us not forget that Canada is a northern country where seasonal industries are prevalent. When the government withdraws from these industries, not only does it create long-term problems, it also empties out the regions. The people leaving have to find somewhere else to go. When they arrive in the big city, they struggle. They do not have the means to start a life in the big city as long as the federal government does not have a long-term strategy.
Regional support is being slashed while, at the same time, these people are not getting the tools they need to settle elsewhere. What is more, the cuts being made are such that well-established regional industries get even less support than before.
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 May 6th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by asking a question.
Frankly, I would like to know what this creature is, given that hydrocarbons come from dinosaurs that lived millions of years ago. It seems to me that this is not a renewable energy source, unless the Conservatives are telling me that there may be dinosaurs somewhere in the Caribbean islands. I am trying to understand what this is.
They may be talking about the corn and ethanol business. Recently, we saw that when ethanol derived from corn was on the market, it created an extreme crisis for the corn market, to the point that a lot of people in the world could no longer buy basic products such as corn because it was being converted into renewable energy.
I quite simply do not understand why the Conservatives are trying to make us believe this renewable hydrocarbons story. I am having a hard time seeing where this thing exists. I would certainly like to hear more about it though, because frankly, I sometimes think it is coming out of the mouths of dinosaurs.
Bill C-60 contains very few things that will benefit people in my riding. I will even go out on a limb and say that it could hurt them.
We will talk about a few measures that are in the budget, and other measures that are not. What worries me most is what is not in the budget.
I would first like to talk about the investment that needs to be made at Fisheries and Oceans. The budget says that, over the next five years, Fisheries and Oceans will be cut by another $100 million. That department has already endured cuts, very recently, of over $70 million a year. Now, the Conservatives are talking about more cuts. We do not know how big those cuts will be. The Conservatives have simply announced cuts. They have not said what is going to be cut. That is the real problem with the bill we have before us. It is supposed to be C-60, Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1. Yet, it is not a budget, or at least it is hard to believe that it is.
When I was a businessman, a budget had columns. It was a sheet with figures on it, with the money spent the previous year and the money spent during the current year. You saw how spending increased or decreased. To the Conservatives, budgets are no longer budgets; now, they are action plans. Frankly, they are works of fiction. They are books that tell a story, but do not in any way achieve the objective of managing a country in a sound and sustainable way.
I will come back to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which is going to lose $100 million over the next five years. Nowhere in the budget, or the Conservatives’ economic action plan 2013, do I see where they are going to cut. We know the impact of the cuts, though. So much has been cut from maintenance at Fisheries and Oceans Canada that our docks are in a pitiful state. The Percé dock is closed today. The lobster industry depends on that dock. My riding also depends heavily on the tourism industry, which in turn depends heavily on the dock. We are talking about 400,000 tourists a year who visit the dock.
Last year, Bill C-38 made changes to employment insurance. In today’s budget, nothing has been changed, even though every region of Canada where there is seasonal work and people make a living from seasonal industries has called for a moratorium or a return to the starting point, and for real consultations to be held. That has not been done. The result is the bill we have before us, which makes no changes to employment insurance.
As a result, people in my region have lost weeks of employment insurance benefits and they will therefore find it harder and harder to have an income to get through the seasons and make it through the whole year.
The minister says that the reason why the government made changes to employment insurance was to help people get jobs. At the same time, however, the Conservatives have cut so much from dock maintenance in my riding that they have put people out of work. In 2013, we risk losing the tourist season in the Gaspé region, because they have cut so much from the budgets that people depend on, without consultation and without doing the groundwork.
They are making so many cuts that people are losing their jobs. There will be no tourists to support merchants who depend on the tourist industry and so there is a risk that we will lose an entire year of tourism, simply because Fisheries and Oceans Canada has not been able to do its job. The department has been unable to do its job because the cuts have been so deep that it has had a great deal of difficulty meeting its obligations.
In today’s budget, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is being cut by $100 million. What is going to be cut? I have a hard time seeing where the remaining cuts at Fisheries and Oceans Canada could be made. I congratulate the department for demonstrating creativity by inventing cuts that could be made in future, without specifying what is left to cut. It seems to me that there are no cuts left to be made at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, apart from the minister’s salary maybe.
We absolutely have to think long-term. There is no long-term vision in Canada. The Conservatives are trying to cut all government spending, and they think that that is going to create the conditions upon which an economic recovery could be based. We saw this situation in the 1980s, in the Reagan era. It is called trickle-down economics. If the government cuts taxes and is less and less involved in the economy, the invisible hand of the market will take over and solve all of our problems. In my opinion, in 2008, when the serious crisis in the banking system happened, the invisible hand of the market simply did not work.
Frankly, credit does not go to the Conservatives for the regulations that were in place at the time and that helped us to get through that serious worldwide economic crisis and be in the condition we are in now.
The Conservatives boast about the fact that Canada has one of the best economies in the world. It is difficult to boast when we compare ourselves to Greece, for example, which is in free fall. Saying we are not in free fall is not all it takes to determine that everything is fine. That is not the case.
Certain conditions must prevail in order for Canada’s economy to grow. The budget now before us will not create these conditions. Furthermore, Canada has 240,000 more young people out of work than during the previous recession in 2008.
There needs to be an action plan in place to help these 240,000 unemployed youths find jobs. Instead, we have cuts to Service Canada’s summer jobs programs that encourage young people to return to the regions to work, settle down and create vibrant communities. Cuts are being made to the summer jobs program and a new internship program is being created. However, an internship is not a job. A job is paid, permanent employment. An internship usually involves unpaid work.
The government has just spent a considerable amount of money creating unpaid job opportunities without having in place an action plan to help young people find gainful employment.
Getting back to my riding, cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada programs means the future of the region’s children and economy are impacted. The Gaspé is not the only region affected. All of Eastern Canada will be facing problems as a result of the cutbacks recently announced. Today’s budget does nothing to alter the course this government has embarked on, one that is bad for the economy and for the regions in particular.
The government is simply unwilling to consult with people. It is unwilling to ask Canadians how they feel about Canada’s growth and what they think our priorities should be. With their parliamentary majority, the Conservatives seem to think they can do whatever they like.
Destroying laws that protect the environment is tantamount to mortgaging the future. Ultimately people will end up paying a great deal more to repair the damage wrought by the Conservatives.
This budget will cost us dearly. Therefore, I urge members to vote against it.