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  • 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 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Joliette for her very moving and heartfelt speech.

I know about this first-hand in Beauport—Limoilou. The figures from the Direction de santé publique de la Capitale-Nationale show that my riding has a concentration of poverty. When income is too low—whether we are talking employment income or other income—this significantly impedes a person's ability to find a place in society and to find another job.

Could my colleague describe how an increase in the minimum wage could help these people regain their dignity?

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his very informative speech.

At the end of my speech, I talked about the Canadian Medical Association report published as part of the study on inequality conducted by the Standing Committee on Finance. Our leader, the future prime minister of Canada, also referred to that report this summer in his speech before the Canadian Medical Association. Clearly, Canadian doctors are very worried about income inequality. In fact, a large segment of the population no longer has the means to secure decent living conditions, which is one of the so-called “determinants of health”.

One thing that is very clear in this debate is that increasing the minimum wage to $15 would make it easier for several hundred thousand people to live their lives in dignity.

I wonder if my colleague could talk about the impact that such an increase in the minimum wage could have on the health, well-being and quality of life of Canadians.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Northwest Territories for his question and his enlightening comments.

We get the feeling that big business and spin doctors are dominating Conservative thought.

Yesterday, the CBC aired an interesting report stating that the Prime Minister was both right and wrong about employment. It is true that there have never been more jobs, but in relative terms, the situation is disastrous. In no way have we caught up to where we were before 2008. The government is refusing to admit that. Many of the backbenchers are refusing to understand that or are incapable of understanding it. Families are suffocating and they need air. It is time to do something about it.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. It was funny how she started with a quote from an unidentified economist. Maybe it was an economist in the Prime Minister's Office. Who knows?

To answer her question, I think that the government displayed its ignorance about the economic impact and the importance of making decisions that benefit as many people as possible in the federal pension file.

I would like to point out that we proposed increasing benefits by adjusting contributions, which is the most efficient savings vehicle because the management fees are lower. The government handily displayed its ignorance by talking about taxes when what we really need to do is encourage people to save money. Households have a major debt problem. People have to save money.

The government does not even understand this basic fact. It needs to be replaced.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to rise to speak to this very important matter: reinstating a minimum wage for businesses under federal jurisdiction. It is something I feel very strongly about.

As the member of Parliament for the riding of Beauport—Limoilou, in the Quebec City area, I see that the riding has quite a lot of disadvantaged individuals and even people living in poverty and exclusion. As the representative for my constituents who struggle daily and as a long-term resident in the area—because I have lived in various parts of Limoilou in the past 20 years and it was there that I raised my son, who recently turned 24—I can tell you I was a worker earning a relatively low income, and as such I have experienced close up the challenges associated with the living conditions and fairly limited incomes in a rapidly changing market.

When I moved to Limoilou in the early 1990s, rent was a lot lower than it is now. You could rent a two-bedroom apartment for less than half of what it costs now per month. There has been a major change in that regard. It is a change that has prompted many families to turn to food banks. I am not just talking about families who rely on welfare, but workers too. I have seen this over the past three years. In a few months, on Christmas Eve, I will go on my fourth food bank tour. As I did last year, I will no doubt hear that needs are growing, that the food banks have fewer and fewer resources and, above all, that people who make an honest living in a one- or two-income family are no longer able to put enough food on the table.

This is not surprising given that successive Conservative and Liberal governments have been going in the wrong direction for over 30 years. We are all elected to represent the people in our ridings. All of us, without exception, are MPs who represent all of the people in our ridings. The reality is that over 80% of my constituents are no longer on the winning team that is benefiting from the economic activity and community life here in Canada. Frankly, that is disappointing.

In Quebec, we have a very simple expression that means that a person is born into a lower class with very few opportunities for the future and that he is resigned to the fact that he and his children will remain in that state. As an individual and especially as an MP, I refuse to accept that state. If my Conservative and Liberal colleagues want to impose that resignation on Canadians at any price, then they are free to do so, but I will not. That is why I have been a committed member of the NDP for nearly 10 years. My active commitment to the party began when I agreed to run as a candidate for the first time in 2005. That is why I will continue to be a member of the NDP for a long time so that I can fight in order to give most people in this country a chance to improve their lot. I will fight so that they have real opportunities, not opportunities that are tied to partisan political marketing schemes. I am talking about real, measurable, tangible opportunities.

Our proposal is to reinstate the federal minimum wage and ultimately bring it up to $15 an hour.

There is no denying that this is one particular measure, but also one specific measure of a set of measures, seeking to encourage income sharing among as many people as possible and especially the sharing of wealth. It is also meant to encourage the return to jobs that are much more stable and to a work and entrepreneurship environment that is much more predictable and robust.

I have had the privilege of sitting on four different committees. Right now, I am on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology and I am very happy about that. Having had the privilege of sitting on the Standing Committee on International Trade and the Standing Committee on Finance, I was truly able to see how ignorant my colleagues in the other parties are when it comes to the competitiveness issues facing the vast majority of Canadian businesses.

Regardless of our entrepreneurs' level of activity, whether they are sole business owners or they own businesses with 100 or 200 employees, they have a strong case for needing long-term projections and a certain degree of stability to be able to grow and pay all their employees.

Our measure provides this stable environment for the entire Canadian business community. Notwithstanding the fact that we will set a standard for businesses under federal jurisdiction, there is another purpose: the provinces are expected to follow suit and raise the minimum wage in their own legislation.

Let me go back to the dust contamination caused by the Port of Québec, because my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou are very concerned about it. Over the past decades, the Conservatives and the Liberals have shown us that they are at the beck and call of big business. For instance, four or five senior executives from Quebec Stevedoring, the company at fault in the dust contamination in Limoilou, have made political contributions totalling nearly $20,000 to the Conservative Party in the last 10 years.

That is perfectly legal. However, it speaks volumes about the Conservatives' inaction and paralysis in terms of their refusal to take action, whether to address a public health issue such as the issue facing the people of Limoilou or to address the rapid deterioration of the living conditions of Canadian families.

Having sat for one year on the Standing Committee on Finance, I would like to quote from the brief submitted by the Canadian Medical Association. I hope this will give my Liberal and Conservative colleagues some food for thought, especially if they take the time to listen.

Recently, my leader, the leader of the official opposition and future prime minister of Canada, gave a speech to the Canadian Medical Association. He talked about the problem and the importance of the social determinants of health.

According to a report by the Canadian Medical Association, the 20% of the population with the highest income lives an average of three years longer than the 20% with the lowest income. Suicide rates are two times higher for the poorest 20% of the population than for the richest 20%. Cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and diabetes are much more prevalent in the poorest 20% of families than in the richest 20% of families.

That is what I am seeing in Beauport—Limoilou, and that is why I support this measure. I am pleased to do so and I am looking forward to my colleagues' questions and comments.

Business of Supply September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I must admit that I am flabbergasted by the reasons that government representatives are giving us.

They are telling us that the provinces are in a better position to set the minimum wage. The provinces are doing a good job, but this is a chance for us to make things even better.

Could my colleague opposite tell us why the government did not negotiate as equals with the provinces on health transfers if the provinces have sole jurisdiction over health care services and they know very well what to do?

Energy Safety and Security Act September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

If we look at the nuclear sector specifically, one of the deficiencies of the bill is the issue of financial liability for all the suppliers and contractors working with operators. Right now, they are unfortunately not included and that might create problems in the supply chain, leaving only operators liable.

That seems problematic to me. I think my colleague will agree that, if all of the stakeholders in the supply chain are liable for problems and damages caused by a nuclear accident, we can obviously hope that they will adopt better practices. I would like to hear his thoughts on that.

Energy Safety and Security Act September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his speech.

However, I will not hide the fact that I have many questions and concerns that he did not address.

My question is about a very specific topic, and that is damages associated with non-use value. This is an important principle that has been raised during debate on this bill. We can always quantify the economic value of a natural area, but we also need to look at other damages. There could be significant repercussions for communities.

With respect to marine areas, we were had by the Conservatives when they focused protection measures solely on commercially viable species, which overlooks the richness, the diversity and the complex interrelationships in a marine environment.

I would like to hear the hon. member's thoughts on the government's deliberate failure to include non-use value. It seems quite problematic to me. It is a huge loophole that companies could exploit.

Energy Safety and Security Act September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, were it not so disappointing, it would be pretty funny to see the hon. member for Halifax West mimicking the Conservatives. It is resignation on his part. He is giving up in the face of the challenge of trying to improve a bill that might have some relevance and a positive impact, but that stops far too short when it comes to the issues in question, whether we are talking about offshore oil development or the nuclear industry.

It is truly disappointing to see him use rhetoric, sophism, to bring everything down to “if you are not with us, you are against us”. If he is going to imitate George W. Bush, then maybe he could use his words. In any case, he could take the time to listen to our arguments to understand and see how woefully inadequate this bill is. That is why we are against it. I would like my colleague to explain why he gave up so quickly and why he is giving in to the Conservatives on a bill that is clearly inadequate.

Energy Safety and Security Act September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Hamilton Mountain for her very enlightening speech.

I have already had the honour of speaking to this bill in the House. What came out of the committee's work shakes me to the core and really scares me. I would like to quote Gordon Edwards, who had this to say about the problem of liability: “The exposure of the Canadian taxpayer is unavoidable under this legislation and it's unlimited. ...It is financial planning with no planning whatsoever.”

In other words, as with the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, the people responsible for those accidents will sneak away and the burden will fall on the taxpayers, the government, the provinces and the municipalities that may be victims of an accident.

Witnesses testified at only two meetings. I would like my colleague to tell me how those far-too-short meetings went and what the tone of the government representatives was.