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  • His favourite word is conservatives.

NDP MP for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 51.90% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Shipping October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about safety.

Half of all Quebeckers get their drinking water from the St. Lawrence, and a number of them are calling on the federal government to ensure that it has the capacity to deal with a major oil spill caused by one of the supertankers leaving Sorel-Tracy. What is more, the environment commissioner seriously doubts that Transport Canada and the Coast Guard are equipped to handle such a spill.

How could the government authorize such a significant increase in tanker traffic on the St. Lawrence, when, by all accounts, it is not prepared to deal with a major oil spill?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation October 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that too many jobs have been cut at CBC/Radio-Canada in recent years, and this continues.

In June, CBC/Radio-Canada announced that 25% of its workforce would be let go between now and 2020, but things have gotten worse. It is our responsibility to respond. There is no way that one in four workers can be laid off without affecting the public broadcaster's mandate. It is impossible.

Can the minister stand up, show respect for the artists and journalists of our public broadcaster and ensure that Canadians get to keep the public broadcaster they cherish?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation October 24th, 2014

Are they going to quiet down? Their lack of respect is unbelievable.

This week, the president of CBC/Radio-Canada, Hubert Lacroix, announced to employees that 400 jobs will be eliminated between now and March 2016. There is even talk of getting rid of satellite trucks.

Her government's ideology aside, does the minister not see that budget cuts are having an even more devastating impact that anticipated?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation October 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am seeing people laugh when I talk about these cuts.

The majority of those watching pointed out how professional Canadian networks were, particularly CBC/Radio-Canada. However, this week—

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation October 21st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the government has the power to ensure that the CBC has the funding it needs to do that.

The cuts to the CBC are obviously jeopardizing francophone minority communities. Nevertheless, Parliament has given the public broadcaster a clear mandate, and that is to meet the specific needs of both official language communities, including those of both linguistic minorities.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage cannot use the budget to get around the law and the mandate given to the public broadcaster by Parliament.

When will the minister finally recognize that the cuts to the CBC are preventing the public broadcaster from fulfilling its responsibilities to minority language communities? She should know; she lives in Saint-Boniface.

National Fiddling Day Act October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, here in the House, we often have to tackle subjects that are far more serious, and I have had to address my fair share of them, so I am certainly very pleased to talk about this subject.

That being said, I am sure we are all pleased to do so, but we will have to do it quickly, because several urgent situations are on today's agenda.

This bill is about a string instrument that is positively iconic in the music of our culture. That is why it is important to talk about this. It is at once a distinguishing feature of who we are and a unifying force, bringing together the many cultures that make up Canada, the federation in which we live.

It is a transcontinental bridge, transatlantic even, because this instrument also binds us to many other fiddling cultures, from the Celts to slave peoples, to their traditional cultures and avant-garde artists as they each borrowed from this art form and added their own unique twist.

This instrument and its melodies reflect our past and echo the memory of all the Irish and Scottish people who put down roots in Quebec. I myself am of Irish heritage on my mother's side; she was a O'Donoughue, and I grew up going to large bilingual family gatherings where the fiddle played a prominent role.

Fourteen years ago, my cousin, April O'Donoughue, founded, and still organizes, the Celtic Harmonies International Festival in Quebec's Eastern Townships. It is a festival that perpetuates the traditions of the region's many communities with Irish and Scottish roots.

There is also the cultural contribution of Brittany, which is also a Celtic nation. The Celtic Harmonies Festival has become a showcase in the Eastern Townships for square dances, reel dances and called dances. I invite everyone who would like to discover this festival to head to Cowansville, and then Waterloo, by way of Knowlton and Austin, this Thanksgiving weekend through to Monday. There will also be dancing, a sense of community and a contagious festive atmosphere that is very typical of fiddlers and their art.

This bill would play tribute to fiddlers: the artisans, craftsmen, musicians, composers, partiers and bon vivants who make these four strings come to life. It recognizes that traditional fiddling is an art that plays an important part in our cultural and social history, as our colleague was saying, and that this art has been enriched by generations of newcomers, who have brought in and shared their musical culture, styles and repertoires.

The bill also acknowledges the efforts of fiddlers, these wonderful violinists, to recognize a world fiddle day and, I quote, “to celebrate the appreciation, beauty and history of fiddle music”. These people had the good sense to propose a day that would honour the greatest crafter of stringed instruments, Antonio Stradivari, who is well known to us all.

The purpose of this bill is clear: to ensure that the historical and contemporary importance of the fiddle, as well as its unique contribution to Canadian culture, are not only recognized, but made known to a broader audience.

I am convinced that the passage of this bill will also please the people of the Lanaudière region, the birthplace of traditional Quebec music and the place where the clerics of St. Viateur left their mark by teaching music. Lanaudière is still home to the oldest youth orchestra in Quebec, and some of the great names of Quebec music—Yves Lambert, Bottine souriante, Rêve du diable—came from the region. It is also home to the Mémoires et racines festival.

A large number of orchestra musicians call Joliette and the surrounding area home. André Brunet, professional fiddler and president of the Camp de violon traditionnel québécois de Lanaudière, is delighted with the idea of this tribute to fiddling.

He says that this is an opportunity to pay a vibrant tribute to an instrument that is integral to a culture, a people, a nation that defines itself by the sound of an air, a reel, a quadrille that fires up the jiggers and underscores the harmony of the dancers' steps.

He says that if any instrument is as authentic as our emotions in the whirl and swirl of a gathering, it is certainly the violin, an integral part of the dance that sweeps us away, that brings us together and tugs at our heartstrings! Each of us is a fiddler at heart.

We have heard from many fiddlers and fiddling enthusiasts who have offered their support for this initiative.

Graham Sheppard, vice-president of the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Association, has said:

“Amid the turmoil that surrounds us and the difficult decisions that this House must make, it is refreshing to stand and be part of this effort”.

”For the thousands of fiddlers and lovers of fiddle music in Canada, a National Fiddling Day will be a cherished annual event. Also, this will give each of us the encouragement to foster the preservation and growth of fiddle music in the regions that we represent and throughout Canada”.

Paul Lemelin has been a regular at the Canadian Grand Masters. He is also president of the Fiddle and Stepdance Competition committee in Chelmsford, Ontario. He has said:

“This act and its intentions very much hits home for me and is a very moving tribute to many of those that have attempted to revive Canada's fiddling heritage back to its former glory. As the president of a northern Ontario fiddle and stepdance organization which is the home of Northern Ontario's ONLY fiddle and Stepdance Competition, our prime objective is to “Preserve and promote our Canadian musical and dance heritage, specifically fiddling and stepdancing”.

I have spoken a few times about the idea of Canadian cultural diversity. As the New Democratic Party heritage and culture critic, I have worked closely with organizations and individuals who promote the idea of cultural diversity internationally, especially in the context of trade agreements, which are important from a cultural standpoint.

The closer we get to other cultures—and this might be the theme of our century—the more we become aware of the undeniable need to be ourselves, to foster, not dilute, the differences and the features that distinguish each cultural group, no matter how few its members and regardless of whether they have been forgotten by the technological homogenization of our cultures.

There is nothing frivolous about diversity in language, arts and culture, and cuisine. It is not a gratuitous search for unlikeness, nor is it a grand principle drafted by UNESCO only to be forgotten.

On the contrary, this diversity is essential to the human condition, its evolution, its progress and, I would add, to enjoying life. Conversely, this diversity is what helps us feel at home and helps everyone find themselves and be more receptive to others. Some will call that protectionism. That is an easy buzzword. However, those are the same people who repeat the idea, straight out of an economics textbook, that nothing has value if it is not marketable, exchangeable or quantifiable.

Culture has value precisely because it is none of those things. It endures through time and it provides a wealth that is not accumulated but experienced.

The fiddle is also meaningful to aboriginal peoples and specifically to the Métis. They practice a form of fiddling whose sounds are reminiscent of Scottish, Atlantic and Quebec traditional music, for example, but it is special because of its innovative elements, style and balance that are unique to aboriginal and Métis culture, as well as its melodic, rhythmic traditions that are reminiscent of bygone eras.

We need to make this national fiddling day a reality in order to celebrate the traditions that these fiddlers have developed and passed on. These traditions continue to live on in the plains. The Festival du Voyageur in Manitoba, a 10-day winter festival that has been taking place for 45 years in Saint-Boniface, is a testament in snow and ice to the warm resonance of this musical heritage.

This is living heritage.

However, in two years and two months, we will have a great opportunity to showcase this heritage to as many people as possible when we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the confederation of Quebec and Ontario with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. This will be the time to commemorate, to look back at these 150 years, to look at how far we've come and to reflect on where we will go in the future.

Instead of working on bigger and better fireworks displays, we should invest in heritage, culture and a new wave of cultural mediation, and we should showcase and promote as widely as possible the work of our artists.

We are two years and two months away. I am pointing this out because up until now, we have really not seen much from this government, so it is a bit sad to see that it took someone in the Senate to suggest this kind of symbolic idea as we move towards 2017.

Speaking of good ideas, the senator who introduced this bill, the senator from Prince Edward Island, had the good idea to stay in Prince Edward Island. That is a great idea.

It is rather odd to see the lack of initiative by the Conservatives with regard to the program for 2017. So far, they have come up with another television ad campaign—yes, another campaign—vague proposals for military commemorations, a major online poll, and a series of logos that have made people laugh for all the wrong reasons.

Contrast this haphazard approach with the preparations for the celebrations in 1967: a decade of organization together with the premiers of Quebec and the other provinces. Indeed, they had discussions. Under Diefenbaker, seven years before the event, the government was already working on the festivities and the infrastructure that would be the legacy of the centennial of Confederation.

Under the current government, nothing, by all accounts. There is absolutely nothing. I could name municipalities and agencies that dream of benefiting from the legacy the government could have come up with for this event and especially for future generations.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage, whose role would normally be to guide the events of 2017, chose to spend the past few weeks imposing her views on the CRTC, which was in the thick of its study on the future of television in Canada. This can only be described as pathetic.

In 2017 the minister will have the opportunity to inaugurate a real year of heritage, a focal point and vibrant era for the arts, artisans and cultures in our country. Celebrating fiddlers, who hold a special place in our hearts and constitute a common thread through our cultures, could have been part of the plans for 2017.

It is not unreasonable to expect our Minister of Canadian Heritage to propose a framework, a timetable, or better yet, an independent committee for the 2017 commemorations. In fact that is one of the many very interesting recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage that the government quickly scrapped.

Nevertheless, it is reassuring to see the Conservatives' interest in this initiative. I just want to say that if Canada has a Department of Canadian Heritage, then it should be able to recognize fiddling's major contribution to Canada's culture and heritage. That is why the NDP is not voting against this bill, as small as it is, because when it comes to culture, it is the small gestures that make a big difference.

National Fiddling Day Act October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate my colleague on her speech. I really liked her analogy when she said that fiddling back in the day was like our social networking. How true.

Nevertheless, does my colleague not find it a little strange that this bill came from the Senate, when it should have been a government bill? While our parliamentarian friends may find the topic of a fiddling day a bit too frivolous, I think it is good to talk about other things from time to time.

However, it would have been better if this had come from the government, especially considering that we are still waiting for information about the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

Would my colleague not agree that this kind of initiative would have been more appropriately showcased if we had talked about it in the context of celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary?

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my capable colleague on his very enlightening and articulate speech. His speech is a perfect example of how the NDP approaches these issues. Obviously, during the member's recent trip he saw, with his own eyes, what people over there need.

We often hear members here talk about the international community and group efforts. I have noticed that the government will occasionally mention the existence of some kind of UN resolution. I would like him to clarify that there is no such resolution from that or any other international agency.

Carillon Park Community Garden October 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, fall is here and this Friday, in the heart of the Carillon neighbourhood of Longueuil, the Mini-kekpart centre is holding its harvest festival, when locals will come together to get the community garden ready for the winter.

This spring, dozens of us built garden boxes with our neighbours young and old, police officers and children from the Carillon school across the street. There was a festive atmosphere and new friendships were made.

The community garden was part of the “cultivating our knowledge” project and it was a great success. People converted their green spaces, gained food self-sufficiency by learning how to grow their own vegetables, and expanded their support network. The project was undertaken by the Carillon/Saint-Pie-X neighbourhood Table Vie and the Kekpart youth centre and was coordinated by the dedicated and hardworking Antoine Perreault.

I wish to congratulate the garden committee for making this project happen. They managed to create a top-notch community. Long live community gardens and until next year.

Rail Transportation September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, people on the south shore of Montreal are worried. Rail cars transporting heavy oil have been regularly travelling between Saint-Lambert and Sorel for the past few weeks.

Transport Canada inspected the 72 km of rail between these two municipalities. However, despite repeated requests from local elected officials, the government refuses to make the reports public. There have been numerous accidents showing the tragic consequences of poorly maintained railways.

Why does the minister refuse to release the reports on the rail line between Sorel and Saint-Lambert? What is she trying to hide?