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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is seeds.

NDP MP for Shefford (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 51.10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Agricultural Growth Act November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about ministerial discretion.

When it suits him, he talks about it and when it does not suit him, he does not talk about it.

Discretionary authority is being given to the minister without putting in place any legal recourse with the assistance of counsel, and without any possibility of protection. Do my colleagues know what I call that? I call that dictatorship. I call that absolute power.

The current government tends to want to put absolute power in the hands of a few people without providing any recourse.

Agricultural Growth Act November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in the process of creating a new variety, there is a stage called licensing. All kinds of tests are done at that stage. Licensing costs a fortune. Some would say it costs an arm and a leg. Individuals do not always have the means to create a special horticultural variety and licensing their product. They will be bought out by someone else. Much like copyright royalties on a CD, individuals will get only pennies, almost nothing.

Agricultural Growth Act November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, for much of my life—nearly 50 years—I worked in agriculture. When I was a student, I would spend my summers and even the fall working on farms. I then studied agriculture at Université Laval so that I could work in this industry—in various areas, but particularly in ornamental horticulture.

The riding of Shefford, which I represent, is made up of three very distinct regions. In the west, you have the rich plains of the St. Lawrence, where you can find the big farms. There are even private research centres where they are cultivating corn, soy and various grains. This area has the richest soil in the region.

Towards the centre of the eastern region, you will find fruit tree nurseries and a very big nursery for growing trees and shrubs. This bill will have a significant impact on this type of production.

More towards the centre, you will find the city and its industries. However, in the east, you will find traditional agriculture—hay fields and smaller farms, including producers of milk, veal calves, slaughter cattle, sheep, goats and chickens. There is a lot of diversity.

Pork production, which is very important in my area, is located in the eastern region because it is tied to grain production. Large-scale producers farm the land, grow grain and have mills to mix the grain and feed their animals.

I am curious. Will these major agriculture producers, who are used to sellling their seed every year, be able to keep using their own seed as they have been doing for years without being harassed by multinational grain corporations? I wonder. We are talking about producers who have thousands of acres and who are among the top three or four pork producers in Quebec. Will they be able to use their seeds?

I cannot support this bill because it does not explicitly protect farmers and the public and because it puts too much discretionary power in the hands of the minister. Speaking of his discretionary powers, the minister has been involved with the Air Canada file since 2011 because the bosses are hands off and that suits his purposes.

The minister also uses these powers to make decisions on employment insurance. This bill will benefit big corporations. The government will pocket the profits and leave as little income as possible to the unemployed.

The minister's discretionary powers also extend to copyright. I myself am an author, and I have written several books on horticulture. I know that authors do not make any money. That law protects the publishers. Will that be the case with this bill too?

The Conservatives' philosophy is to protect the establishment, not the little guy. Some market gardeners in my riding have been planting the same varieties of garlic for decades, year after year. If you plant garlic from the store, it will not work out because that garlic is not adapted to the region. There is a garlic grower in my region who has been working on adapting one variety for several decades. Will his variety of garlic be stolen from him? Will he be forced to buy it back from someone else? If a multinational orders a hundred garlic bulbs and plants them, then five or ten years later that corporation can say that the garlic is its variety. Will we be able to protect the little guys against this sort of thing?

We have a lot of greenhouse farmers. Some grow organic products and heirloom varieties. Is the greenhouse farmer going to be harassed by the inspector from some company and end up having to pay a fine? The large companies are given rights, but what is being done to protect the little guys from being abused by big business? Do not tell me that such abuse does not exist. In France, the law protects multinationals so much so that companies that sell seed to individuals no longer have the right to do so and people are going after them on the Internet. Kokopelli, a seed producer for third world countries, is constantly in court with major seed companies. Is that what we want? Do we want to cause even more problems for the so-called “little guy”?

I know a seed producer who collected heirloom varieties in the northern regions of the St. Lawrence. He uses the Internet and catalogues to sell seed he produces himself for fine herbs and vegetables. Will these heirloom varieties be protected under this bill? If a company finds an heirloom tomato and it improves that tomato slightly, it can then say that the original tomato, which has been an heirloom variety for a long time, is too similar to its own tomato.

I am familiar with these kinds of things. I have had a website since about 1996. Someone came to me and said that I had copied his pages. I had made a copy of my pages on a diskette, which I sent to myself by registered mail, without opening it. I had proof that I had written those pages five years before him. In the horticultural field, will people be able to prevent these kinds of abuses by others who want to steal varieties? These ancient varieties belong to everyone. These companies want to steal them.

What I find difficult about all this is that big breeders are being protected. How are individuals going to be protected? For instance, if I plant 10 varieties of tomato plants, someone could show up in my yard with big boxes and ask if I purchased the seeds for the various varieties. Individuals also need to be protected.

Gérard-Bossé Foundation November 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, an organization in Granby that cares about young adults aged 18 to 35, the environment, sustainable development and nature has started a project called Les Écolos, in partnership with the city of Granby.

This project has given new life to many used items, thanks to the social engagement of more than 20 young people. On November 13, the organization's administrators held a gala titled Vert la relève in order to pay tribute to the perseverance and commitment of two young school dropouts who were able to make their mark and overcome life's challenges.

The Gérard-Bossé foundation is an organization that helps our youth and our environment. Congratulations to the recipients, and congratulations to the administrators for their dedication to the leaders of tomorrow.

World Diabetes Day November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, November 14 is World Diabetes Day. The 2014 campaign slogan is “Diabetes: protect our future”. This day is recognized worldwide because diabetes does not discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life and of all ages.

According to the International Diabetes Federation's Diabetes Atlas, there are currently 382 million people living with diabetes, and that number will rise to 592 million by 2035. A further 316 million people are currently at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, with the number expected to increase to almost 500 million within a generation.

Leading medical experts call this a 21st century pandemic. November 14 is an important day for everyone. Let us take control of our health now.

Petitions November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting two petitions regarding the creation of a legal ombudsman mechanism for responsible mining. This ombudsman could receive and analyze complaints, as well as assess international social responsibility standards with respect to labour, the environment and human rights.

Homelessness November 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, homelessness is a troubling issue, especially as the temperature drops outside.

The Comité itinérance de la Haute-Yamaska, which is made up of 12 organizations in my riding, is calling for urgent action on the issue of federal funding for homelessness, because the existing resources are no longer meeting the growing high-priority needs.

Le Passant, an emergency shelter, has noted a 50% increase in the number of admissions in the past two years. Between 2012 and 2013, Partage Notre-Dame and SOS Dépannage noted an increase in requests for food assistance of 15% and 39% respectively. That is why the call for the 2015-2019 HPS must be issued as soon as possible.

I wish to thank and salute the homelessness committee for the work it does for homeless people to give them a better life.

Petitions October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition about strengthening our communities by reuniting families through the Canadian immigration system.

The petition reads as follows:

We, the undersigned residents of Canada, draw the attention of the House to the following:

WHEREAS the Conservative government’s radical overhaul of Canada’s immigration system is turning Canada into a less welcoming country;

WHEREAS these changes weaken our communities by limiting possibilities for families to reunite in Canada with overseas spouses, children, parents and grandparents;

WHEREAS families seeking to reunite on Canadian soil face unacceptable barriers and wait times as long as nine years;

WHEREAS this government’s misguided response to growing backlogs has been to impose a two-year freeze on reunification applications for parents and grandparents;

THEREFORE we the undersigned call on the Government of Canada to make reuniting families a central priority in Canada’s immigration system.

Petitions October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition about abolishing the Senate.

We, the undersigned residents of Canada, recognize the following:

that there is no place for an unelected, unaccountable Senate in our democracy;

that the $92.5 million a year it costs to run this archaic institution would be better spent elsewhere; and

that appointed senators, especially those who abuse their privileges, do not represent the interests or values of Canadians.

Therefore, we call on the Government of Canada to abolish the unelected, unaccountable Senate once and for all.

Granby June 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Granby, halfway between Montreal and Sherbrooke, is in a strategic location both geography-wise and tourism-wise. Granby is a vibrant city and a wonderful place for tourists to visit.

This easily accessible city has the Granby Zoo, the Amazoo aquatic park, the beach at Parc national de la Yamaska, the Festival international de la chanson de Granby, more than 80 parks and fountains, many cycling trails, some of the most beautiful campgrounds in Quebec, a number of golf courses, just as many renowned restaurants, and I could go on. These are exactly the kinds of things you are looking for on a family vacation. Granby also offers agri-tourism activities, shopping, sports and recreational activities.

Granby is a city to discover. We look forward to welcoming you in large numbers this summer.