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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
Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act April 26th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his speech. He raised some very interesting points.
Have the people in his riding spoken to him about this bill? What do they think? Do they think we should be supporting it?
Employment Insurance April 26th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I do not think the minister understands the repercussions of her own reform. It is more than just a few people who are opposed to this ill-advised and devastating reform. Tomorrow, all of Quebec will descend on Montreal, from seasonal workers from my riding to business people from the city.
Propaganda letters from her department will not change the facts. Quebeckers know that she is dismantling the EI program and that she is targeting the lifestyle of many people. They say no to the reform.
Will she listen to them tomorrow or will she ignore our economic reality?
Employment Insurance April 26th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, instead of trying to convince herself that her reform is good, the minister should listen to the workers' heartfelt pleas.
People in the Atlantic provinces are not the only ones angry with the minister. In Quebec, cities and regions have had enough of the reform. Business people, mayors and workers are all fed up with the Conservatives' attacks.
Tomorrow, there will be a massive demonstration against the reform in Montreal. She should take this opportunity to finally conduct an impact study and consult people.
Will she listen to their demands?
Business of Supply April 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to my colleague's discourse just now, and I find it surprising that he is saying his government is the one that has taken the most action. One of the reasons greenhouse gas emissions are actually dropping in this country is that economic activity is dropping. He should not be laying claim to any kind of plan on this, unless he is saying that it was the government's plan to reduce economic activity in this country. He has no claim to fame on this.
I am also surprised to hear him talk about how the government is helping to install wind farms worldwide to help with greenhouse gas emissions when in Canada it is actually reducing the amount of support it is giving.
Why not show me how he is going to support the wind farms in my riding, how we are going to increase development of those wind farms, instead of starting studies in Ontario on whether the sounds that wind farms make could possibly have negative health effects on individuals, studies that have been performed numerous times by our international partners and numerous times in Quebec as well.
The studies are already in. The results are in. We know what the results are. Why do we not actively support the wind power industry in this country instead of just giving lip service to wind farms in other countries?
Employment Insurance April 24th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for her interesting response.
We are aware of the fact that perhaps there were some informal consultations with Canadians in some parts of the country. The problem we have with the reform is that the results of those consultations were never made public. The studies, if there were any, were never released. We are asking once again if any studies were conducted and, if so, we would like to see them. We are particularly concerned about the economic impact of this employment insurance cut.
The Conservatives have made all kinds of cuts affecting workers and benefits, and they have reduced the availability of benefits.
We are not talking about a simple reform whereby people who need EI still have access to their benefits. There are simply not enough benefits to go around all year long. In resource regions, people are terribly worried because they simply do not have enough income to make ends meet throughout the year.
Why this attack on resource regions?
Employment Insurance April 24th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, further to the question about employment insurance raised in the House a few weeks ago, we understand that the fight against the EI reform continues.
Over a number of months, people right across eastern Canada have joined together to send a clear message to the minister: they want nothing to do with her reform.
We know that, on April 27, there will be a big rally in Montreal with several thousand participants. Once again, we stress that, in eastern Canada, people simply do not want this reform. We are joining forces with others and we want the minister to understand.
No one is against the fact that there is a reform, because we all know that the system is far from perfect, but real consultation with Canadians is needed to implement a reform based on their needs and not on Conservative ideology.
Why does the minister not back off from her reform immediately and engage in real consultation? Why not get this right?
Consultation is of the utmost importance, but reform of this magnitude also requires impact studies. That is really just basic governance, yet the minister still refuses to conduct an impact study. She acknowledged that there never was an impact study. However, the employment insurance reform has serious consequences.
Does she realize that her reform has major implications for thousands of Canadians? Can the minister tell us what exactly she is basing this reform on? Why did she not think it was a good idea to consult people and study the effect this reform would have before she implemented it?
The minister did not consult anyone, nor did she conduct an impact study. She seems to be basing her decisions on ideology. She does not want an employment insurance system that responds to needs. If she did, she would be doing what it takes to support seasonal industries.
She is imposing quotas of more than $40,000 per month per public servant. These quotas are not flushing out fraudsters, as she would have us believe. They are creating false economies on the backs of the unemployed and workers. The public servants that need to meet these extremely high quotas are not targeting fraud. They need to find ridiculous reasons for taking employment insurance benefits away from people who really need them, like the claimant who had his benefits taken away because he missed two phone calls from Service Canada.
Le Devoir released a Service Canada document that proves that the minister just wants to slash employment insurance. The document states that seasonal workers present a high risk of fraud. Now we know exactly what the minister thinks of seasonal workers. She thinks they are lazy and they scam the system. She simply does not understand that it is the work that is seasonal and that in resource regions, there is no year-round work. She would understand that if she had conducted consultations and an impact study.
I will ask my question again: will the minister share the studies that were conducted or will she conduct real impact studies immediately?
Combating Terrorism Act April 23rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I certainly do agree with my colleague. The biggest problem I see for security in this country is the cutbacks. It is certainly one of the biggest problems and one that is going to be felt for many years to come.
Police ask for more tools and for the federal government to take its place in defending the security of individuals in this country, and yet what we see in budget after budget is cutback after cutback to that very security. We have to wonder if the bill in front of us today is simply some elaborate political ploy to capitalize on terrorist attacks that have recently taken place instead of actually doing the work that needs to be done on the ground to build up our security apparatus, protect Canadians and ensure that the safety of Canadians is paramount and not a play thing for political gain.
Combating Terrorism Act April 23rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, frankly, it is very hard to ascertain the position of the Liberal Party on this, because it did not put forward any amendments to the bill in front of us today. Although Liberals say they think the bill is inadequate and incomplete, had they been serious about it, we might have heard from them much more elaborately as to what exactly this bill would need to be acceptable to the Canadian people.
Members on this side of the House are certainly being very principled insofar as this bill does not pass our smell test. This bill does not provide a proper balance between rights and protections of society. I would love to hear from the Liberals as to how exactly they would like this bill amended. Unfortunately, they did not bring forward any amendments.
Combating Terrorism Act April 23rd, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill S-7.
This bill originated in the Senate, a non-elected House, and it seeks to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Security of Information Act.
I oppose the bill that is before us and I will briefly explain why. Following the events of September 11, 2001, the House of Commons passed an act on terrorism, the Anti-terrorism Act. This legislation was introduced and passed rather quickly. We were shaken and trying to find quick ways and solutions to deal with a feared problem, terrorism, not only in Canada but also abroad.
In the end, several parts of this bill proved useless. Over time, we realized that perhaps we had gone too far in the changes made to our basic rights, which are enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We learned a lesson from that exercise and, in 2007, that act was not renewed, precisely because we realized that several provisions were no longer appropriate in Canada. In fact, they never were. At the time, there had never been any investigative hearing required, or any situation that called for recognizance with conditions.
The bill before us directly affects basic rights that are highly valued in Canada. It provides for up to 72 hours of preventive detention, without the person being charged with anything. It also provides for up to 12 months' imprisonment where a person refuses to testify. That is a major assault on basic rights in Canada. We have to ask ourselves what reasoning can justify such an attack on a fundamental right in a free and democratic society. In my opinion, there is no justification.
For example, in the case of investigative hearings, a peace officer may, with the Attorney General's prior consent, ask a provincial judge to compel any individual who may have information about a terrorist act to appear before a judge. It is immediately apparent that we cannot agree to this bill. A peace officer may force anyone to appear before a judge in order to explain himself or herself or to testify. In Canada, however, even though the right not to testify is a fundamental right, there will be consequences if the individual exercises that right. The person may be detained, even imprisoned, for 12 months merely for refusing to testify. This is a fundamental attack and we must really ask ourselves whether it is warranted.
As we have seen in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, certain rights may be disregarded where that is warranted. However, according to the principle that the Supreme Court has used on numerous occasions, such action must be warranted in a free and democratic society. I note that the judgment in Oakes established quite clear tests regarding what may warrant limiting fundamental rights in Canada. In my opinion, the bill before us does not meet those tests.
Several factors are involved, including preventive arrest. That is rarely seen in a free and democratic society. Some countries are accused of making unwarranted preventive arrests, and Canada is preparing to act like certain countries that we often criticize. Once again, we must ask ourselves on what reasoning this is based.
Peace officers may arrest an individual without a warrant where they believe that is necessary to prevent a terrorist attack. On what do they base their decision? On what do they rely? How can people defend themselves in those circumstances?
I guess people in Canada will say that they have nothing to worry about, that this does not concern them. However, if a peace officer is convinced that an act will be committed, if he or she assumes that an act will be committed, people will be in a poor position to defend themselves since there will be no evidence. There will merely be an apprehension. In that case, there can be no justification for a peace officer having such a considerable and substantial power.
Section 495 of the Criminal Code already grants a peace officer the following powers:
(1) A peace officer may arrest without warrant (a) a person who has committed an indictable offence or who, on reasonable grounds, he believes has committed or is about to commit an indictable offence; (b) a person whom he finds committing a criminal offence; or (c) a person in respect of whom he has reasonable grounds to believe that a warrant of arrest or committal, in any form set out in Part XXVIII in relation thereto, is in force within the territorial jurisdiction in which the person is found.
We can see that this power is subject to certain conditions. We already have a section in the Criminal Code that gives peace officers this power.
We have to ask ourselves what the reason is for wanting to give them even more powers, including the power to detain an individual for a period of 12 months simply for refusing to testify. That right is guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, among others. This is going too far.
This bill would have benefited from a debate in committee and several NDP amendments. However, the amendments were all turned down by the Conservative government.
Parliamentary committees listen to witnesses and experts and give them an opportunity to comment on bills. Members rely on witnesses' knowledge when amending legislation.
One of the witnesses was Denis Barrette, a member of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. According to Mr. Barrette, when the Anti-terrorism Act was adopted in 2001, insufficient evidence was presented to justify reducing the protections guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Toronto 18 were arrested without this legislation, which expired in 2007. The alleged terrorists who intended to attack a VIA Rail train were arrested by the RCMP and other Canadian security agencies the day before yesterday, once again, without legislation such as what we have before us today.
Bill S-7 is not justified. What we need to do in Canada is improve existing security agencies and give them the tools they need to defend our interests. That brings to mind the 2013 budget, in which the government cut air security services in Canada, then in the same breath talked about the problem of terrorism. The air security budget will be cut, especially in airports in remote regions like mine. Small airports may lose their security services.
We need to consider this: if the aim is to truly protect Canadians and the entire world with our security measures in Canada, these measures need to be improved through whatever means necessary. In my opinion, it is crucial that there be an adequate budget to maintain Canada's air security services, and the matter should not even be up for debate. Unfortunately, the budget will cut funding for these services.
Based on what we are seeing here, Canada is heading in the wrong direction by taking away Canadians' rights when we should be giving Canadians the tools they need to protect themselves.
Employment Insurance March 21st, 2013
Mr. Speaker, do you see how ridiculous this situation is? The Conservatives are asking public servants to investigate and blow the whistle on other public servants who blow the whistle on ridiculous policies. They have already sicced their secret police on unemployed workers and now they are targeting public servants. Who will they target next?
Instead of wasting time and energy on their secret police, why do they not offer better service to unemployed workers? If they have enough resources for a witch hunt, why are they cutting Service Canada?