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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

Amendments to Standing Orders December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia for moving this motion. However, I have to agree with my colleagues who spoke before me.

When I read through the member's motion and saw how he envisioned the so-called debate, I had some serious doubts about what was motivating his proposal, what goal he was trying to achieve and his desire to build bridges, foster dialogue and negotiate better conditions for all members of the House.

Working conditions for the 308 members of the House are far from ideal. Some of our colleagues have little power to act, whether they belong to a recognized party or not. I have been aware of this reality for a long time. In 2015, I will be running in my fourth general election as an NDP candidate. It will also be the 10th year of my life as an NDP politician—I was a candidate in Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière in May of 2006. I made a very long-term commitment after decades of building my own awareness of the political reality of our country.

This debate reminds me of when I was young in the 1970s, imitating my dad, who tuned in to the six o'clock news religiously. The paper that was delivered every day was another ritual at my house. My father read it, and I followed his example on that score too. I very quickly became aware of the issues facing our society and the fact that politics is an unavoidable fact of our lives as citizens of this country.

Since my father was very involved in politics and unions, he ended up becoming a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party of Canada. Unfortunately for him, after the sponsorship scandal, he got mad and tore up his card. Fortunately, as he was deciding which party to turn to, his son gave him a good enough reason to consider supporting the NDP during the elections in the 2000s.

May 2015 will mark the 10th anniversary of my political career as an NDP candidate. One of my important roles has been to support and encourage good NDP candidates in the Quebec City region. I am very proud to have taken on responsibilities in the Quebec City region for the NDP.

In 2011, of the nine seats in the greater Quebec City area, including the two seats on Quebec City's south shore, there were six women and three men standing as NDP candidates. That was an extraordinary achievement. Of these nine candidates, four women and three men were elected, just on Quebec City's north shore.

In trying to meet the challenges of representing different genders, ethnicities and people all across our very large and diverse nation, which has very different social realities, a political party can be an extraordinary vehicle. A political party can direct and reflect the realities of this representation as fairly as possible in order to offset forces and a certain social legacy that can be quite a burden and misrepresent a reality to the detriment of certain under-represented groups.

With its lottery system and its very random system for representation on committees and during question period, my colleague's motion provides absolutely no response in that regard. On the contrary, this motion could lead to huge discrepancies on some committees, for example.

Of course, my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques mentioned the Standing Committee on Finance. He was especially drawn to this committee, not just out of personal interest, but also because of his qualifications, which are widely recognized in our NDP caucus.

However, we could wind up with poor or absurd representation on committees. I am using the word “absurd” because of the approach proposed in the motion.

After reading the motion moved by the member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, I would say that the biggest problem that I noticed was that it does not resolve the issue of domination of the executive, an unfortunate reality in Canada. In fact, the motion could actually increase that domination. Experts have been discussing and debating this major problem with our political system and our democratic institutions for decades.

I remember buying a book published in the 1960s at a used book store that talked about some of the problems associated with the executive branch and accountability. Unfortunately, the problems with accountability and the domination of the executive have only gotten worse over the years.

Right now, the Prime Minister's Office is exerting so much domination over political life that it is embarrassing, particularly given Canada's democratic tradition, which is widely admired, and rightly so for the most part; however, this tradition masks the outrageous domination that has no place in other political systems throughout the world.

Young democracies throughout the world are doing much more than we are here to try to offset these problems and prevent this sort of domination, which they may have experienced in their history, under a dictatorship, before they built democratic institutions.

Unfortunately, my colleague is not trying to deal with that issue. On the contrary, he is going to tie the hands of the opposition parties and every member who is not part of the government party and leave them at the mercy of the whims and desires of the executive branch and the Prime Minister's Office.

In conclusion, unfortunately, this motion is inadequate and does not ensure that all members of the House will be involved.

Victims Bill of Rights Act December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. There is no denying that the Liberals unfortunately have little to show for their 13 years in power. In 1996, they promised to introduce a victims charter. However, like their Conservative friends, they merely made a promise and got a lot of mileage out of it while they kept on postponing any such initiatives.

I would like to know why, under the government whose party my colleague now represents, this measure was not established and implemented.

Petitions December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour to present a petition signed by nearly 300 people from the riding of Beauport—Limoilou and elsewhere around Quebec City. The petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to work with Canadian National to ensure the longevity of the Quebec Bridge. It is a major piece of infrastructure and a national monument.

Health December 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the Conservative government has failed to do anything to fight the pollution coming from the Port of Québec is shameful.

Despite large spikes in pollution and alarming reports dating back to the 1980s, the government has done nothing to increase oversight and limit the pollution's harmful effects on Quebec City residents.

Why is the minister deliberately turning a blind eye to the Port of Québec's poor environmental track record?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for his speech, but I must admit that he has a lot of nerve.

In Quebec, there is a situation involving the packaging of meat. Some grocers are changing the best-before labels on meat. The Liberals are very good at changing labels and trying to pass off their tainted meat as fresh meat.

The Liberals' new media pitch is standing up for the middle class. The Conservatives abandoned the middle class a long time ago.

That being said, let us come back to Canada Post. In 2006, during my first election campaign, the big thing that everyone was talking about in Quebec was the closure of the postal sorting station. That happened under the Liberal watch, so it is not just the Conservatives who are dismantling Canada Post and allowing the crown corporation's management to destroy our postal services, quite the contrary.

How can my colleague claim to defend the interests of people who want home mail delivery?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 5th, 2014

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

In his speech, he mentioned a harbour expansion project in Sault Ste. Marie. My speech on Bill C-43 basically dealt with issues related to the amendments the bill would make to the Canada Marine Act. Those amendments were hidden in the omnibus bill and were not even examined by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

However, I would like to inform my colleague that the president of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities told the Standing Committee on Finance that the federal government was not providing sufficient funding to support the development of Canadian ports.

Was my colleague aware of that? What will the government propose to resolve this serious problem, which affects Canada's ability to play a major role on the international stage?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Tobique—Mactaquac for his question. As I said in my speech, we are unfortunately using a piecemeal regulatory process.

This question will give me the opportunity to talk about something this budgetary bill does not address, and that is funding for ports. Ms. Zatylny says that it is extremely difficult for a port authority to achieve a threshold of $100 million in funding, since these authorities do not have support from the federal government. What is more, the funding level leaves a major shortfall that the ports are forced to make up. They are having a hard time doing that.

However, on March 7, 2012, the Conservatives defeated a motion that I had the honour to move in the House and that called on the government to financially and concretely support the Port of Québec, whose facilities are in major need of renovation. This proves once again that the Conservatives speak from both sides of their mouths, instead of facing the challenges of a modern economy. They prefer to do things their way and on their terms, while ignoring the fundamental and concrete needs on the ground.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Hochelaga for her question. She is right: this way of doing things is pretty sneaky.

This reminds me of something the current Minister of State for Social Development did in a previous Parliament. She introduced a government bill to change how firearms were registered on the gun registry. She chose to go that route instead of having the courage to introduce it as a government bill. Of course, the Conservatives had a minority at the time, but once they got their majority, they put that measure into a government bill.

As my colleague pointed out, since the bill is now buried in the mammoth bill—call it what you want, but it is by no means a butterfly because it is nowhere near that light—we have to study it alongside measures we could support and others that we strongly oppose. This way of doing things is totally dishonest, but it is the government's usual way of doing business.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we are now at report stage on this Conservative beast. I am not referring to my colleagues opposite, but to this massive bill that has over 460 clauses and 400 pages that we are now debating.

I am following a rather dull speech by the member for Burlington, during which he spent most of his time trying—and failing—to prove the merits of the process. This bill is all over the map and deals with all kinds of subjects. He could have at least focused on one concrete issue affecting Canadians and then defended the merits of that measure. He also could have taken two or three of the measures. It was his choice. I do not think anyone will be surprised to hear that I will be focusing on a very specific part of the bill in order to address the expectations and, especially, the concerns and misgivings of my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou.

I will talk about the process that the member for Burlington spoke about. The summary of Bill C-43 spans seven or eight pages. As I said, it is all over the map.

The member for Burlington spoke about the fact that the parts of the bill had been sent to different committees to be studied, including the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, of which I am a member. That was one of the very few accurate things he said.

This process became a farce, as we were forced to deal with some aspects in the bill that were unfortunately attached with no chance of amendment. This would have been possible if the government had shown some courage and introduced separate bills . However, the members on the government side do not have that courage. Instead, the witnesses, from all backgrounds, all lined up to talk about two or three items making amendments to two or three different acts.

I will focus on the summary and say that at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, we practically wasted our time on division 1 of part 4, which amends the Industrial Design Act and the Patent Act; division 6 of part 4, which amends the Radiocommunication Act and division 9 of part 9, which amends the Investment Canada Act; division 10 of part 4, which amends the Broadcasting Act; division 11 of part 4, which amends the Telecommunications Act; and, finally, division 12 of part 4, which amends the Business Development Bank of Canada Act.

For the benefit of the House, and to do justice to the testimony provided by the experts who came, I must say that a number of our witnesses deplored the fact that we were unable to conduct separate studies, under better conditions, of the bills being amended by this omnibus beast, which is rearing its ugly head yet again.

I would add that over two years ago, I hung a poster on my office wall that provides a profile of the health of the people in the greater Quebec City area. This health profile is divided by different sectors of the city. Obviously, I have before me the part that is in red, red like a danger zone warning, which has to do with the population of Beauport—Limoilou.

According to the data from this health profile, that part of the population is living in socio-economic and environmental conditions that lead to a greater prevalence of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

It is striking; the differences can be as much as twofold. There are difference in terms of life expectancy as well, which is six, seven or eight years less for those living in Quebec City's lower town and who are affected by the dust coming from the Port of Québec.

I was leading up to that point so that I can talk once again about the contamination coming from Arrimage Québec, which operates within the boundaries of the Port of Québec. This concerns one section of the beast, although I am not sure if it is the scales, feet or claws. I am talking about division 16 of part 4, which amends the Canada Marine Act.

Contrary to what the member for Burlington said, it is ironic that this part, which really should have been studied by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance. The committee concerned was unable to comment on the amendments.

There is no denying it: we gained some insight into the government's intentions and the scope of the amendments. The government is resorting to one of its bad habits, and that is ignoring a legislative review conducted in the light of day. The government prefers the shady path of measures adopted through regulation, in the offices of ministers, which can then take everyone by surprise. We are ultimately presented with a fait accompli.

Clearly, as I pointed out, Conservative government members have no courage. They have been demonstrating this for the past nine years, and now we have further proof.

One of the witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Finance, the president of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, Ms. Zatylny, talked about the amendments to section 64, among others. Those amendments will allow the government to use the regulatory process in order to potentially make provincial laws and regulations apply to port activities in certain parts of the country. This could also be done in some other specific circumstances. Some witnesses confirmed that it could be linked to some liquefied natural gas terminal projects on the west coast, in British Columbia. The government is making legislative changes that will have an impact across Canada, in order to propose a solution or a possible solution to a problem that is actually quite local. Ms. Zatylny stated:

[The amendments will help...] by giving the federal government the ability to enact regulations that will provide additional safety and environmental protection measures.

This has yet to be seen, for this issue is very important, and despite her claims, Ms. Zatylny's comments were in part contradicted by Joyce Henry, a director general at Transport Canada. Indeed, Ms. Henry said that, in any case, federal laws apply as they are at present, and there are no changes in that regard. She hopes to incorporate provincial laws and regulations in the form of regulations under the Canada Marine Act. That is unfortunate.

I talked about the measures that have nothing to do with the budget. During testimony at the Standing Committee on Finance, Ms. Zatylny also shared her concerns regarding financial support for ports to help their development and upgrade their facilities, and this bill does absolutely nothing to address those concerns.

It really is unfortunate, because the building Canada program will not provide enough funding to meet the serious investment challenges facing Canada's 18 port authorities.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

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

I have to seize this opportunity. He talked about some environmental issues, some measures or so-called measures that will be passed with this bill. However, for years now, the people of Beauport—Limoilou have been suffering from the pollutants released by the activities at the Port of Québec.

The legislative changes in part 4, section 16 of the bill will allow the government to use the regulatory process, but on a piecemeal basis.

I would like to ask my colleague why there are no clear legislative measures in part 4, division 16, of the bill that would make provincial laws and regulations on air quality applicable to port facilities, for example? That would have been much simpler.