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  • His favourite word is seed.

NDP MP for Shefford (Québec)

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

Statements in the House

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.

Agricultural Growth Act June 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is simple. When there are more varieties, there is more choice. Seed producers want to promote certain varieties by using displays and other methods.

Limiting the number of varieties automatically leads to the sale of more expensive seeds. There are fewer and fewer varieties being sold with a lot of seed in the packet. Instead of putting 100 seeds in a packet, they put 10 and instead of selling the packet for $2.95, they sell it for $4.95. It is not hard to see that the profit margin goes up. The seed companies' strategy is to limit choice in order to increase their chances of selling more. Someone who has a garden with 50, 100 or 150 plants will have to buy several packets of seed instead of just one packet.

Agricultural Growth Act June 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the member's question, I would agree that there should have been several bills rather than just one and that this bill should have been studied in detail to determine the implications. We are very concerned about the fact that we will not be able to do a thorough study of this bill.

I agree with my colleague that we should be concerned about the cursory treatment of these issues and the lack of opportunity to study the minor repercussions that could end up being quite significant.

Agricultural Growth Act June 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the member for Berthier—Maskinongé.

Today we are debating yet another omnibus bill, which is nothing new with these Conservatives. They throw all kinds of different things into the same bill. This one has to do with agriculture.

The bill deals with plant breeders' rights for new varieties or new species. Research labs, including government labs, work on breeding new plants for years, even decades. Marketing comes into play because these labs need to be viable. However, we need to be careful of certain companies that cause problems when they try to profit by limiting access to many varieties of seeds.

I have been gardening since I was eight years old. I grow vegetables, flowers, perennials and shrubs. This is my hobby. I love tomato plants. A few years ago, when I would visit the displays at hardware stores and garden centres, I could pick up 30 or 40 varieties of tomatoes to try out. This year, I was not able to get more than 12 varieties of tomatoes. This means that both individuals and farmers need to be careful when buying seeds. Some companies restrict access to many varieties in order to sell the ones that they want to sell.

For example, you can buy packages of seeds for $2, $3, $4 or $5. I bought a package of new certified seeds for $4.95 and I got 11 plants. However, in another package of traditional varieties, I would get 50, 77 or even 100 plants for $2.95. There could be problems if this were to happen with grains.

In the regions, farmers developed seeds that were adapted to their climate. Traditionally, year after year, they would save their best seeds to sow the following year. The new legislation will force them to register those seeds. Farmers who used to pay next to nothing to reseed will now have to pay for more expensive seeds.

Because agricultural co-operatives belong to all of the farmers, they expect to get the best possible price. Now that multinationals have patented seeds, access to traditional seeds will be limited. We need to ensure that our traditional varieties will still be preserved for use.

At one point, there were problems with certain varieties of cucurbits, or cucumbers. People were researching heirloom varieties to improve genetics because cross-breeding the same varieties led to a loss of genetic quality.

It is important that we preserve those older varieties. Large companies in France—such as Kokopelli, an international company—are posing problems because they do business with developing countries. They trade seeds so that the prices are better. For a few years now, France has been regulating seed sales. Major seed producers are constantly in court, fighting this company because it has overstepped its boundaries.

Organic farmers may also run into trouble if their neighbours use new seed varieties. Corn and most grains are fertilized by the wind. The organic farmer's seeds are contaminated by the GMO seeds. His products decline in quality. Not only do his products decline in quality, but the neighbour then accuses him of mixing seeds, using GMOs and using his neighbour's registered seeds. That is when things start to go downhill.

Will there be a system in place to protect the small farmers from the bigger ones, who may contaminate seeds? It is important to know.

We know that this bill is the next step in ratifying the 1991 Act of the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants. As usual, every government since 1991, whether Conservative or Liberal, has stalled on this, and now here we are in 2014. Other countries have ratified it, but not Canada.

This is a kind of copyright act. Looking at the Copyright Act itself, there is the case involving Robinson versus television producers. He has spent 19 years fighting for his fair share. We can see that it is important to have laws that protect patent-holders. However, we have to ensure that heritage varieties that have been around for a long time are not patented as new varieties because that would prevent ordinary people from using those heritage varieties.

Amateur gardeners and co-operatives exchange seeds, and that system works very well. We have to make sure that people can still do this and that multinationals will not be able to prevent people from using heritage varieties.

Granby Zoo May 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Granby Zoo is a not-to-be-missed destination for nearly 700,000 visitors every year. It has become a world-class institution dedicated to the protection of threatened species and education. Pure fun is on the agenda too, thanks to the Amazoo water park, a wave pool for people young and old.

The zoo employs over 130 people at the height of the tourist season. The Granby Zoo gives people a chance to discover animals from around the world, continent by continent, from Africa to Asia, the Americas and Indonesia. Its latest exhibit takes visitors on a trip across Australia from east to west, from the dry red desert at the heart of Australia to the temperate regions where vegetation flourishes. The zoo is less than three hours from Ottawa.

Families love the Granby Zoo.

Canada Post March 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the people of Shefford do not understand Canada Post's reckless decision to eliminate door-to-door mail delivery.

Once again, the Conservatives are targeting seniors and people with disabilities—the most vulnerable people in our society. However, Canada Post is not offering them any alternatives.

When will the government work to improve services to the public instead of doing away with them?

PRINOTH February 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, PRINOTH, a Granby company, dominates the North American snow grooming equipment market.

With a $20 million contract for 62 snow groomers, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are a high-profile international project for this Canadian manufacturer.

From the very beginning, PRINOTH has been synonymous with the highest quality vehicles. With over half a century of experience, PRINOTH continues to develop and perfect the drive wheel system invented by Bombardier in 1935. PRINOTH groomers are considered the best in the world.

The Granby facility employs no less than 350 workers, and 60 more are in charge of North American sales and distribution.

We are very proud of this local company.

Community Contributions October 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I wish to commend the outstanding contributions of two individuals who were awarded the Quebec National Assembly medal last week.

Joanne Ouellette is the executive director of Solidarité ethnique régionale de la Yamaska, an immigration advocacy group. Ms. Ouellette is a visionary, a smart and caring woman.

Serge Tremblay is a businessman who founded the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge and the Leucan 12-Hour Ski Challenge. He is known for his contributions to many causes.

I would also like to recognize Chantal Bossé, CEO of CHABOS, who is the second Canadian woman to win the title of Microsoft PowerPoint MVP for 2013-14, and the only francophone woman among this group of experts.

I wish to personally congratulate Joanne Ouellette, Serge Tremblay and Chantal Bossé on the contributions they make to their communities.