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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is conservatives.

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

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act October 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the examples my colleague brought forth from his riding were well taken.

I will remind him that we are in third reading, so it is unfortunately a little late for all of the suggested improvements. We are now at the point where we will be voting to accept or defeat the legislation. On this side, we will be voting against it.

Having brought all of these great ideas and knowing that they cannot be brought forward anymore, what is member for Winnipeg North going to be doing regarding this legislation as far as supporting it further down the road? What are we going to be looking at as far as bringing this forward in the community?

Specifically, I would like to know from him if it is a good idea to be passing legislation like this without giving the opportunity and the tools to those who are disenfranchised and have fewer resources in the country to bring forward legislation to the courts. This legislation, from so many experts that I have spoken to, is almost certainly going to be challenged in the courts. It is almost certainly going to be defeated, because it does not actually address the single most important issue that the courts brought up, which is harm reduction.

Could the member please give some comments on how the community groups that he spoke to are going to be able to challenge this on the ground?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act October 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we have to continue debate on this extremely important issue.

The member for Gatineau highlighted some issues and wanted to elaborate on them during questions and comments. Could she have the time now to comment further?

Fisheries and Oceans October 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Cap-des-Rosiers lighthouse, the tallest in Canada, was designated as a national historic site in 1974. In addition, the government implemented the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act in 2010. Now, the government is neglecting it. We cannot let such a gem slip away. The lighthouse desperately needs repairs. Water is seeping in through the cracks.

What is the government going to do to preserve the Cap-des-Rosiers lighthouse?

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Chief Government Whip for the comments. I certainly do not agree with them.

To bring context back to the Northwest Territories, let us quote the former premier of the Northwest Territories, Stephen Kakfwi, who said, “He has taken the heart right out of it. The middle of it is carved out so that mining can happen dead centre in the middle of the proposed national park.”

Let us put something concrete in our discussions here. I think the government whip should have a little more respect for the former premier of the Northwest Territories. He certainly has a lot of problems with the bill that we have in front of us. The Chief Government Whip should have interest in making sure that he takes heed of these comments and offers some amendments to this bill to improve it.

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, because he raised some very important points.

Parks Canada will have to face a number of challenges in order to fulfill its mandate. I will share the figures that were recently published in the Toronto Star.

Operational cuts in the budget for 2012-13 will be in the order of $6 million; in 2013-14, close to $20 million; in 2014-15, almost $30 million. These are permanent cuts to Parks Canada. They are cuts to the direct services that Parks Canada offers to the public. These services are forever eliminated by the Conservative budgets.

We need to make sure that Parks Canada is able to fulfill its mandate effectively. With the cuts that are being imposed on it, we are simply not going to be able to do that. This park needs more support than this bill is going to offer.

It is a good first step, but we need to go an awful lot further.

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

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to speak to Bill S-5, which would amend the Canada National Parks Act to create a reserve called Nááts’ihch’oh.

Parks are obviously very important to Canadians, and you can find them all over the country. Just today, the House has debated two bills on parks: the one we are discussing now, and the one we discussed earlier this morning to create an urban park in the Toronto area. This shows that Canadians are very interested in creating and preserving our parks and reserves in Canada.

When he was Quebec's environment minister, the leader of the New Democratic Party resigned and gave up his limo in order to protect Mont-Orford park. The Liberal government at the time wanted to sell the park—or at least part of it—to private interests. It was a shock and it was unacceptable. The leader of the NDP did the right thing. He protected the park, at the expense of his political career at the provincial level. Fortunately, this meant that we could snag him to come here, so that he could become the next prime minister of Canada. We think that was the right choice. Defending our parks is a fundamental value.

This bill would create a park in the Northwest Territories. The hon. member for the Northwest Territories did a great job of presenting and defending his stance. It is our duty to defend this bill and move forward. However, let us be clear: the bill has some serious flaws. It does not create a park. Rather, it creates two parts of a park. A road through the middle of the park will allow mining interests to continue mining tungsten. It is a rather unique situation, and we find it unfortunate.

This bill complies with the agreements signed in the north, which took more than seven years to negotiate. Thankfully, those negotiations resulted in the bill before us today. However, it is unfortunate that it did not go further. What is the reasoning behind creating a reserve or park if not to protect the fauna and flora? In this case, the government is trying to find a way to develop natural resources instead of creating a park that will protect the caribou and the other species in the area.

The loss of biodiversity in the world is very disturbing. We need to take measures today to ensure that Canada does not lose any more biodiversity, especially since Canada is recognized around the world as a country that believes in protecting the environment. Unfortunately, this bill suggests that the Conservative government seems to have forgotten that Parks Canada's mandate is to preserve the environment, not exploit it.

Naturally, people in the region are interested in the fact that this will create natural wealth and the idea that there may be a multiplier effect on the economy. We see this across Canada: parks have a considerable impact on wealth and tourism. In other areas where Parks Canada has unfortunately had to cut its budget—because of the Conservative government's massive budget cuts—the agency can no longer carry out its mandate or really help spur economic growth.

Here is an example from back home in the Gaspé. Forillon National Park is now closed all winter, period. No services are available. Unfortunately, the current government is not a partner in economic growth. I also want to point out that to get to Forillon National Park, you have to take a plane, the train or a bus.

Unfortunately, the government is not stepping up in that regard either. There is no bus to get there, the railway is in terrible condition, and the train no longer goes there. The government needs to come up with a budget for Parks Canada that makes sense so that the bill before us can have a real and lasting impact.

I would now like to go over some Parks Canada figures. Really, these numbers are pretty scary. As everyone knows, Parks Canada cut 638 jobs in the 2012 fiscal year. Its budget was cut by 7.1%, which is a lot of money.

The Toronto Star reported that Parks Canada has been putting off close to $3 billion in repairs. There is a total of $2.8 billion in deferred work. That means buildings are falling down.

Getting back to Forillon National Park, I hope that the people of the Northwest Territories will look closely at what is happening in other national parks so that they can be prepared for the Conservatives' lack of support for this park. The federal government has more or less abandoned Forillon National Park. The buildings are in poor shape, and all of the expropriated houses in the park are falling down too.

Hon. members will recall that 40 years ago, when the park was created by the federal Liberal government, it found a rather unique way to create the park: it partnered with the province. The province owns the park, and the federal government manages it. Unfortunately, the federal government has abandoned its role as manager. Now, the owner, namely the provincial government, has no regulatory or statutory power to spend money to improve it. The Conservative government has a duty to improve the park, but it is not doing so.

Today, the government wants to create a park in the Northwest Territories. I hope that the people there will take note that the government often is nowhere to be found when it comes time to provide support.

I would like to point out some shortcomings and share the concerns of some experts. This is what Alison Woodley, of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, had to say about the park's creation:

—the park boundary proposed in Bill S-5 will not achieve this conservation goal because it leaves out much of the important habitat for woodland caribou, including critical calving and breeding grounds, as well as for grizzly bears and Dall's sheep. It leaves out a significant part of the Little Nahanni River, which is a major tributary of the South Nahanni River and includes some of the most important habitat in the area.

This is the part that I thought particularly interesting: “Bill S-5 falls short of being a significant conservation achievement”. Again, that is from CPAWS, an organization known for its proper management of parks. It has helped the government establish parks and sustain parks in the past, and in this particular case, it has made it clear that the project we have in front of us simply does not measure up.

We need more and more stringent commitments on the part of the government to make sure that this park would fulfill the needs and the obligations that the government negotiated through the various treaties and through the court obligations that were imposed upon it.

Unfortunately, I do not think the government quite understands that when it has an obligation, it is expected to fulfill it with all due support, with all due money and with all due resources that should come to bear on the project. This is not one of those cases. It is the beginning. It is simply a beginning. We are going to have to go an awful lot further to make sure that this project would have long-term success.

Fortunately, the best outcome for this project, for the bill, is that we do adopt it. At least it would go to committee and we would try to improve on it. However, if we adopt it as is, certainly the most beneficial thing would be that when the NDP does form a government, we would be able to improve it so that it is a real park that we can really be proud of.

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

Mr. Speaker, of the three options for the park's area, it is unfortunate that the government chose the smallest area.

Could the member speak about the consultation process? Were people satisfied that the smallest option was chosen for the park? Was this proposal in keeping with what these people wanted, or did it come from the government?

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

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to my colleague's speech. Her research is excellent. She obviously knows the file well and truly believes in protecting our environment. For that reason, I congratulate her.

There have been so many cuts at Environment Canada and Parks Canada in particular that one has to wonder what possible future these parks can have. We keep hearing from the government side that the creation of this reserve is an economic opportunity, but it sounds like it is more of an economic opportunity for the mining sector than it is for people who try to protect the environment.

With all of the cuts at Parks Canada, does my colleague feel Parks Canada has enough resources to develop this park properly?

Fisheries and Oceans October 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the situation is critical in the Gaspé rivers. Fewer and fewer salmon are swimming upstream. This year, there was a drop of over 60%, including in the York and St. John rivers. This has not happened in 30 years, according to the managers. We have to find out what is happening.

Does the government plan to investigate?

Business of Supply September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question and it certainly is a question for debate.

What has happened in this place seems to be that the culture has changed. It had seemed rather normal and expected that if one asked a question, one would get an answer. It seemed appropriate that if one asked a question, the answer would have something to do with the question being posed. Perhaps in the past, the House treated questions with more respect. It treated the duly elected representatives of the people of Canada with more respect and actually answered questions with an answer that proved that respect. Unfortunately, today, we do not seem to be at that point.

We need new tools. The tools of the past I do not think were anywhere near as clear or necessary as they are today. I do not think that in the past the level of disrespect that we see in the House today was anywhere near as bad. This place is degrading. Question period has become more of an art than a science. We need to have some ground rules, and I think the motion is going to be the first step in that direction.