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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is colleague.

NDP MP for Beauport—Limoilou (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 46.10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very enlightening speech.

One of the rules of the House is that ministers must reply to oral questions to the best of their ability. Another very important rule is that answers should not create disorder, or undisciplined reactions in the House. I would like my colleague to provide some examples of instances where members of the executive failed to follow these rules or meet the needs of the public we represent. Canadians need clear and meaningful accountability.

Business of Supply September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague opposite for his speech. I would recommend that he use some notes or speaking points so that he does not go off on a tangent or lose his train of thought and so that his speech stays on track.

That said, and to come back to the issue at hand, I agree with my colleague on one point, namely the fact that we should not change rules in a one-off manner. I would invite him to go speak with some of his backbench colleagues, who tend to introduce minor bills to amend the Criminal Code. It is always very dangerous to amend the Criminal Code piece by piece. Then the government takes credit for all of that to get some mileage out of it and use it for marketing.

The Speaker has endorsed the long-established principle that question period is designed to hold the government accountable. That is very important, given that it is one of the three pillars of our democracy.

Does my colleague accept the fact that this particular responsibility provides meaningful accountability?

Business of Supply September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I feel I must draw attention to what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said. There is nothing more distasteful than to see a Conservative member portray himself as a victim when his party holds a majority of seats in the House.

I really want to thank the minister of state for her speech. Still, it is the responsibility of all 308 members of this House to be accountable to all Canadians. This responsibility is difficult to fulfill; it is very challenging. I agree with the minister of state that question period can be a time when things come to a head and emotions run high.

However, the fact remains that it is the duty of the representatives of the executive branch in particular to be accountable to the House. This problem has often been raised by elected representatives in other countries, including African countries.

Is she aware of the executive branch's special responsibility?

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we can certainly shift the topic of the debate to the costs associated with the delays in some rounds of negotiations. However, I would like to take my colleague down another path and ask him to consider the risks associated with blind adherence—for instance, adherence to an agreement whose terms we know nothing about, as is the case with the free trade agreement with the European Union.

Clearly, the Liberal Party has a long history of wilful blindness. Consider the purchase of four used, inoperative submarines, which we are still paying for to this day. When you get involved in those kinds of processes, you have to take full responsibility. I say “full” because haste is a real danger.

As for this free trade agreement, we must remember that the global conditions can be very difficult for a country like Canada. In the auto sector, there is no denying that competing countries like China and Brazil actively support their auto sectors to such a great extent that investment subsidies can reach as high as 60%; this is huge and very costly for everyone and it is preventing Canada from reaching its full potential.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade for his question. The NDP approach in general consists of consulting all stakeholders party to a debate, negotiation or bill, which is not necessarily the government's approach. I have sat on three committees and I have seen the very strict selection criteria for witnesses, which is unfortunate. I find that deplorable.

Having said that, I would like to point out to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade that when it comes to unions, all democratic states allow for freedom of association. I was looking at OECD figures before giving my speech. In 2007, the rate of unionization in Canada was 27% and in the democratic state of Israel, it was 33%.

I would like to bring this figure to the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and to say to him that unions are partners of society and the economy, and that they are equal in value to any other partner.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is a huge privilege for me to be able to speak to Bill C-41. The New Democratic Party will be able to support the entire bill. Yes, the entire bill. However, when we get into the details, we will closely examine some aspects of it and will have suggestions for changes to improve the bill or, at the very least, consider potential renegotiations with South Korea on some aspects that could pose a problem.

I have spoken about the investment-protection clauses on a number of occasions since this debate started. The NDP is not the only party to oppose this type of clause. The main opposition party in the South Korean national assembly opposes it as well, which is wonderful news. Once again, despite my repeated questions, the members of the government party in this House unfortunately were not able to tell me—I cannot imagine that they were refusing to answer—whether this is a requirement of the Government of Canada or whether Korea wanted to have this type of clause.

That said, we can all agree on the heart of this debate, which is that the NDP supports this bill. This support is contingent on the status of this bill. It is at second reading and will go to the Standing Committee on International Trade to be studied and debated. Obviously, the NDP's support is very much related to the situation in South Korea. As the member for Honoré-Mercier so eloquently stated, the country now has much more solid democratic institutions. South Korea emerged from a rather repressive dictatorship in 1987. It has much freer legal, social and economic structures. Now there is freedom of speech and the union movement has gained support and legitimacy.

I was looking at some figures from the OECD. In South Korea, the overall unionization rate is around 10%, whereas in Canada it is around 26% or 27%. According to my research, unionization rates are much higher in big Korean corporations—around 40% in the 10 largest Korean corporations, compared to the overall unionization rate. That is good news, but as the member for Honoré-Mercier pointed out, that does not prevent these big corporations from using appalling tactics to suppress union activism. Unfortunately, these tactics led one union leader to commit suicide because of what he saw, what he shared and what he heard from the people he represented.

Fortunately, like Canada, Korea is evolving rapidly. Like my colleagues, I acknowledge that evolution, that march toward a future that we all believe will be much better. That being said, I was really very critical in previous debates on other bills related to other free trade agreements, such as the Canada-Honduras and Canada-Panama free trade proposals. I was really very critical of, among other things, the appearance of moral endorsement of countries plagued by corruption and crime as well as the inequality inherent in the negotiations. We can all agree that negotiations between Canada—a very rich country with some 35 million inhabitants—and very small countries—those with just a few million inhabitants and a per capita gross domestic product that is not in the same league as Canada's—can hardly be called negotiations between equals.

In these cases, we cannot say we negotiated on an equal footing. Nonetheless, with regard to the negotiations between South Korea and Canada, we are negotiating as equals, and that is excellent news.

I must say that it was an honour and a privilege to sit on the Standing Committee on International Trade. Bilateral agreements are not as bad as multilateral negotiations where it is easy to leave out exceptional provisions, specific measures, and to be taken hostage by special interests, as we unfortunately see far too often in many negotiations between two countries. I know that this philosophy is widely shared by my NDP colleagues.

As I pointed out in the beginning of my speech, the current free trade agreement raises a number of important questions. I wonder how far Canada pushed for certain clauses or whether it was the Republic of Korea that imposed its will relative to other negotiations.

There was talk about access to government contracts, for instance, provincial and municipal government contracts as well as those associated with crown corporations. Fortunately, that is not part of the agreement, unlike the agreement between the European Union and Canada. Accordingly, we are supporting the free trade agreement.

As a result of what happened with the European Union, we hope that through the negotiations we will get to know all the aspects of this agreement and ultimately vote on it after reviewing what might be improved and offering suggestions.

I talked about protecting investors. Fortunately, we have a relatively open process in this agreement, compared with the much more opaque process we had for other free trade agreements. What is more, either party can withdraw with six months' notice, which is excellent news.

I will use my two minutes remaining to talk about the carelessness of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party—there is no denying it—when it comes to the choice of partners Canada negotiates with. My Liberal colleagues went to great pains to criticize the Conservatives for dragging out the negotiations for a free trade agreement between South Korea and Canada. However, they are mum on how the agreements with Colombia, Panama and Honduras were fast tracked.

Given the Conservatives' record, we should perhaps not be surprised by this discrepancy. The Conservative Party takes shortcuts and does not take the time to choose its partners. Furthermore, some very close friends of President Putin were not included in Canada's sanctions, which are completely warranted in light of the situation in Ukraine.

In closing, I will draw a parallel to my time on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Passing stringent laws, much like signing free trade agreements, is of little value if they are not supported by a strategy and by concrete, robust and consistent means.

That is the modus operandi of the Conservative government. All too often it has become stuck on adopting measures without thinking them through and without supporting their implementation; above all, they are stuck on what I would call a certain magical thinking. I hope that if we adopt this free trade agreement, the means will soon follow, and I hope that the Conservatives will walk the talk, because this is an extraordinary opportunity for both our countries.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound did not completely answer my question. I will turn to my colleague, the hon. Conservative member for Don Valley West, and come back to the issue of the investment protection clause included in the agreement.

I would like him to tell me whether the Government of Canada insisted it be included. If that is the case, I would like him to explain why it is in there. Did Canada push for it?

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. We support the bill as written, but there is a problem related to investor protection even though, fortunately, the time-limited clause can be cancelled with six months' notice.

I would like to know what it is about South Korean institutions and the country's legal system that is problematic enough to warrant this kind of investor protection clause.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of International Trade for his speech. I am also very pleased to hear him say that he was pressured by pork producers, among others. They have better things to do than to pressure the minister.

Considering how long it took for the minister to conclude this agreement—the government has been in power for almost nine years—why did he give priority to signing minor agreements with dictatorships and tax havens in Latin America rather than entering into an agreement with South Korea?

Committees of the House September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague opposite for her speech, which could well have moved me. In fact, her call for collaboration among the different parties' representatives could have touched me to the core if it were not for the reality we face every day in our work. I am certain that my colleague will understand what I am talking about. I am talking about the work in committee where, in general, the members of the Conservative Party systematically refuse the proposals and suggestions submitted by the opposition parties.

Getting back to the matter at hand, there is one suggestion—it is practically a requirement—that has the support of aboriginal women's groups, among others. People are asking for a national and public inquiry that would allow everyone not just to have their say but to get to the root of the problem. Why is the government ignoring this request?