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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

Agricultural Growth Act November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Shefford for his speech.

My colleague spoke about something that is arbitrary, the power that the minister is potentially giving himself. I have to say that this approach has become pervasive and is apparent in almost every bill studied by the House and by our various committees. The Conservatives are choosing to use the regulatory process to gain full control and deal with many things in an underhanded manner.

I would like my colleague to speak a little more about the Conservative government's approach, which could be detrimental to the public interest because it could be too easily used in the service of special interests.

Agricultural Growth Act November 19th, 2014

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

Above and beyond the issues he discussed, it is important to remember that we have before us a huge omnibus bill related to agriculture; yet, we are being given very little time to debate it. That is something that is now firmly ingrained in the minds of all Canadians. I saw it again yesterday at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, when some witnesses said that the process we were using to examine parts of the omnibus budget implementation bill was seriously flawed.

I would like to know why my colleague supports limiting debate and, unfortunately, making it impossible to seriously examine amendments in committee. Why is he so averse to all the opposition's proposals?

Agricultural Growth Act November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have a habit of always arguing that time is of the essence. The members of the official opposition are certainly not responsible for the government's negligence. After all, the Conservatives have been in power for almost nine years.

I remember reading this summer the memoirs of the former Quebec agriculture minister, Jean Garon, who implemented a huge number of measures over nine years. He always held extensive consultations that went well beyond interest groups.

I would like to know what the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is afraid of and what is preventing him from thoroughly debating a bill that is basically an omnibus bill. This bill demands much more attention than can be given under a time allocation motion. It seems that they are just blindly forging ahead.

Petitions November 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be presenting a second petition about the problem of contaminated dust coming from the port of Quebec. I also presented a petition last year.

Today's petition has been signed by more than 250 very concerned residents of Quebec City's lower town, who are directly affected and want the Government of Canada to ensure that the problem is resolved.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Winnipeg North for the question.

This allows me to point out that while the opposition is doing most of the debating here, we see our Conservative colleagues just sitting there, even though we have a monster bill with over 400 clauses that need to be examined and studied. It is absolutely unbelievable.

Clearly, as my colleague pointed out, the Conservative government imposed a transfer framework on the provinces in a positively shameful way. In fact, it was appalling that the federal government would impose its will on the provincial governments. It is unconscionable.

I would like to remind the member that the initial framework for the health transfers, which dates back some 50 years, stipulated that the federal government was to pay half the costs. Unfortunately, successive Liberal governments, under Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, successfully negotiated a much more inequitable cost-sharing scheme, and this put additional pressure on the provinces. It is really appalling.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Louis-Hébert for his question and his comments, which are particularly pertinent. This brings me to something else that I did not have time to address in my speech.

When we talk about the regulatory process, this unfortunately leads to behaviour that can have serious consequences. I would draw my colleague's attention to the fact that under clause 231, subsection 64.4 will be added to the Canada Marine Act. It reads as follows:

64.4 Regulations made under subsection 64.1(1) prevail over any by-laws, practices and procedures or other similar instruments, and land-use plans, made by a port authority....

Mechanisms already exist that could allow a community to take into account or assess the actions of a port authority. However, the government could go about things in an entirely underhanded way, completely in secret, and present the public with a done deal. Canadians would then be hostage to decisions made in backrooms in Ottawa, and it would be very hard to keep an eye on things and, more importantly, gauge the consequences once those decisions take effect.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for sharing his precious speaking time with me. Given that this is a mammoth, monstrous bill, 10 minutes is nowhere near enough time to comment on certain aspects. I want to sincerely thank him for sharing his time so that I can speak to certain aspects of the budget that are of particular interest to the people of Beauport—Limoilou.

Before I begin, I cannot help but pick up on the parliamentary secretary's comments. I would like to ask him where the replacement fighter jets are. Where are the ships that are supposed to maintain the operational capabilities of our armed forces and the coast guard? While we are at it, I could even ask where, at the bottom of the river, the paintbrush for repainting the Quebec Bridge has wound up. I could do as my Conservative colleagues have done and list all of this government's failures, but it would take too long and I would not be able to address the sensitive issues that are of particular concern to the people of Beauport—Limoilou.

We have amply highlighted the omnibus nature of this bill, which is more than 450 pages long and contains more than 400 clauses. It is terrible and completely disrespectful of Canadians. That is not to mention the time allocation motion, which severely limits our debates, in addition to the farce we can expect in the committee hearings. This budget implementation bill is meant to go to the Standing Committee on Finance. However, the Conservatives will continue to show contempt toward all Canadians in studying the bill by making it impossible to amend various parts, including, no doubt, at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, of which I am very proud to be a member.

Let us move on from the Conservatives' shameful behaviour and focus instead on the part in division 16 of the bill on the amendments to the Canada Marine Act. Hon. members are aware of the issue affecting the people of my riding, Beauport—Limoilou, namely the high level of contamination by a mix of dust, including nickel dust, from the Port of Québec, due to the operations of the Quebec Stevedoring company.

Obviously, like everyone else, I took up reading this immense bill under unspeakable conditions. After looking at the summary, I decided to focus on this division. There are a number of changes that open the door quite wide. It makes us wonder about the government's intentions and deeper motives. When it changes aspects and sections of our statutes, it does not just make minor changes, without intending to have these sections apply more broadly. Once the door is open it is impossible to close it again without a very strong will. I will raise a number of questions related to that.

I will start with clause 228:

228. Section 46 of the Canada Marine Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2.1):

(2.11) A port authority may acquire federal real property or federal immovables, if supplementary letters patent have been issued.

That property will become “real property or immovables other than federal real property or federal immovables”.

That will already have serious consequences. Hon. members likely know that a Canadian port authority cannot transfer, dispose of, or borrow against federal real property or federal immovables.

Clearly, once the door is open we can imagine what will happen. Furthermore, the government is taking a piecemeal approach because, depending on the port authority, it will issue letters patent tailored to certain circumstances on a case-by-case basis. It is our understanding that these amendments were intended to resolve a particular case in one part of Canada, or that they represented a concession in that particular case. Nevertheless, this could have many negative, even dangerous, repercussions for the people living near a port or a major Canadian port authority.

I would like to mention that all major Canadian cities have a port authority. Thus, very large populations could be affected by these changes. Potentially, these changes could ultimately result in complete or piece-by-piece privatization. We have absolutely no idea where this will stop, so why not?

I will now talk about clause 231 of the same bill. This clause adds quite a number of elements to section 64 of the Canada Marine Act. How this is done is quite surprising. This affects undertakings situated in a port, and the Governor in Council will have the authority to:

...make regulations respecting any undertaking...that is situated or proposed to be situated in a port, including regulations respecting the development, use and environmental protection of the port as it relates to the undertaking or class of undertakings.

When we look at all the details, we realize that once again, the government, in an underhanded and secretive way, can, through regulation, introduce individual rules tailored to the needs or even the whims of businesses working in our major Canadian ports.

Since the contaminated dust issue blew up two years ago—the government is still valiantly trying to keep that out of the spotlight—Quebec Stevedoring has always tried to shirk its responsibility and take advantage of a system that lets the company get away with it. Unfortunately, if I understand the logic of these new provisions, that system might be obligingly provided by a government that received nearly $20,000 in donations from the company's senior executives, including the founding president of Quebec Stevedoring.

It is scary to see the door wide open like that and the red carpet rolled out for a select group of friends, so of course we have legitimate questions. Unfortunately, we are looking at this as part of a huge omnibus bill. We will have no choice but to exercise our right to vote on the bill as a whole. Obviously, we are going to vote against the bill because it contains too many unacceptable measures.

Then government representatives will be able to drone on, squawk and get all offended about how we voted for this or that measure, and they will generally behave in a way not befitting adults. I will not call it childish, because that would be disrespectful to children. As it turns out, children behave better than many adults.

I will end there, because I could go on for another 10 minutes, but I cannot fault my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for wanting 10 minutes to stand up for his constituents.

If it ever passes, section 64.93, which is part of clause 231, indicates that:

No civil proceeding may be brought, no order may be made and no fine or monetary penalty may be imposed against Her Majesty in right of Canada or a port authority, in relation to an undertaking that is situated in a port, under regulations made under subsection 64.1(1), based on any right or interest held by Her Majesty or the port authority in that port.

We will have to see what the scope will be, but this clause raises a lot of questions and does not answer the concerns we might have.

In conclusion, what is really disappointing and what we need to strongly condemn is the fact that the government will try send this division to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for review.

Unfortunately, though, we will not be able to examine it in depth or propose any amendments. Nothing will be done right, and the Conservatives will likely take the opportunity to do some nice things for their friends.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the speech she gave.

Clearly, the speech was filled with the same bravado we are used to hearing from the Conservative benches. It is rather disappointing. I find it unfortunate that my colleague brought up the question of support for small businesses, yet she ignored the fact that the Conservatives' plans have so far been quite ineffective for small business.

In reality, when we look at the past 20 years, big business has benefited from major tax cuts—their taxes have been practically cut in half—while small businesses have had their tax rates cut by only one percentage point, from 12% to 11%.

The NDP believes in restoring the corporate fiscal balance by lowering small business tax rates to 9% and cancelling certain cuts that were granted to big business.

I would like to ask my colleague why she did not encourage her government to move in that direction, which would have been far more productive than tax credits that will create almost no jobs in the long run.

The Environment October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his answer.

I cannot say that I learned much more than what was in the letter I received.

I will not hide the fact that I am frustrated, since the inventory has been around since 1993 and Quebec Stevedoring has been in operation for about 30 years.

Twenty years ago, when the inventory was created, around 15 million tonnes of mostly dry bulk materials were being transferred. Now, that figure is 30 million tonnes. Environment Canada should already have been following up, monitoring and requiring that Quebec Stevedoring report to the inventory.

Why was Quebec Stevedoring not required to report pollutant releases and disposals up to now?

The Environment October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it was my honour to ask a question in the House about Environment Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory.

The inventory tracks polluters in Canada. It lists a number of facilities in Beauport—Limoilou, such as the Quebec City incinerator and the White Birch Paper mill in Stadacona. It also lists the IMTT-Québec liquid bulk terminal at the Port of Quebec, which releases volatile pollutants, and the Bunge grain storage facilities, which are not in the riding of Beauport—Limoilou, but are nearby and can have an impact.

I was therefore surprised to see that Quebec Stevedoring was not in the inventory. Quebec Stevedoring handles tens of millions of tonnes of bulk solids that are exposed to the open air. It is hard to imagine that the warehousing and operational activities do not release pollutants.

This inventory is very important because it serves as a benchmark across the country. It is even used by the three trade partners—the United States, Mexico and Canada—to understand the impact of pollutants released by industrial, mining and other facilities.

I would like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment for promising to get back to me. I received an answer in a letter. I have a copy of it here. It clearly indicates that Quebec Stevedoring is not included in the National Pollutant Release Inventory, but that Environment Canada officials have contacted the company.

At present, Quebec Stevedoring's activities may not strictly require the company to report to the inventory. However, given the volume of its operations and the pollutants that could be released, including particulate matter, dust and nickel, Quebec Stevedoring could have to submit a report and be included in this famous inventory.

Now that I have gotten this very interesting answer from the office of the Minister of the Environment, I would like to know what will require Quebec Stevedoring to comply and report to the inventory. How and when will it happen? Clearly, measures and benchmarks will have to be established.