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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is important.

NDP MP for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 44.80% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Aboriginal Affairs October 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about children like the four-year-old girl with a heart condition who needed a raised hospital bed so that fluid did not accumulate in her lungs.

If she had lived anywhere other than on a reserve, she would have had that bed in a few days, but she is aboriginal. As a result, she waited nearly seven months.

How does the minister plan to ensure that children living on reserves receive the health care that they are entitled to and they need?

Rouge National Urban Park Act October 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Halifax for her speech. This member has an excellent understanding of her file, and I thank her for that.

This bill proposes to create the first urban park. If there is something we should be the best in the world at, it is creating parks. I would even say that this is in our DNA as Canadians. This bill presents an incredible opportunity.

Aside from the challenges that my colleague mentioned in her speech, what other challenges could we expect to encounter with this bill?

Aboriginal Affairs September 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today Amnesty International is marking the 10th anniversary of its “Stolen Sisters” report. It is a sorry anniversary that reminds us of yet another decade of inaction by the government, another decade of frustration for the families of the 1,200 missing or murdered women.

Will the government finally launch a national public inquiry into the fate of these women?

Aboriginal Affairs September 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister's so-called action plan cannot be trusted. We are talking about 1,200 missing and murdered aboriginal women, and the problem continues. This evening, my colleagues opposite will have the opportunity to take meaningful action in memory of these women who were victims of violence.

They can vote against a report that symbolizes 30 years of indifference and 30 years of inaction, and they can finally acknowledge the need for a national public inquiry. Will they take action?

Committees of the House September 23rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for her presentation.

She started her speech by talking about what was said in committee. I myself sat on that special committee. One of the things I heard from the witnesses who talked about a national public inquiry being held was that they supported that idea. Why has she not taken that into consideration? Right now, I do not understand that, but I feel that those who testified about the need for such an inquiry have been ignored.

My question is very simple. The member is praising the Conservative action plan. One of Canada's fundamental principles when it comes to aboriginal people is that we must always work in partnership with them. That is the promise made in section 35 of the Constitution.

I would like to know whether this plan was designed in partnership with the aboriginal peoples and particularly aboriginal women. If so, who specifically was a partner, and if not, why not?

Status of Women September 22nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, my NDP colleagues and I managed to force the House to hold a debate on the fate of nearly 1,200 missing aboriginal women and girls. This is a tragedy that the Liberals and the Conservatives would like to sweep under the rug.

Will the government finally listen and launch a national public inquiry into the murders and disappearances of these women?

Committees of the House September 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member opposite was not really listening or did not understand what I said. Beyond everything she just mentioned, the issue before us concerns a national public inquiry to determine why this is still happening today.

Despite all the reports that the hon. members opposite are citing and despite all the plans the government might come up with, I think we must get to the bottom of this. That has not been done. No plan will work if we do not understand the real reasons behind what is still happening today. What is more, I am pretty sure this plan was not drawn up in partnership with those whom it is meant to benefit.

Committees of the House September 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I believe I mentioned in my speech the importance of giving these families closure, and that is why it is important to go ahead with this national inquiry.

One of the reasons why this inquiry is necessary is that many if not most of these families did not have the opportunity to say goodbye to their children, to their daughters.

I am certain that a national public inquiry would bring at least some closure to these families for the loss they have experienced in their lives.

My mother's story is a perfect example of how we can bring closure to these horrible experiences that many of us have gone through. For 140 years, children were sent to residential schools. We really have to get to the bottom of things, and that can only be achieved with a public inquiry.

Committees of the House September 19th, 2014


That the First Report of the Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women, presented on Friday, March 7, 2014, be concurred in.

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Vancouver East.

In the first 100 days of the NDP government, we will launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. We have to address the systemic causes of violence against the indigenous women and girls of this country. The structures and attitudes that allow this violence to continue must be examined, exposed and changed. The only way to do this at the national level is to establish a national public commission of inquiry.

Indigenous women experience more violence because they are indigenous and because they are women. Amnesty International found that indigenous women are most likely to die before non-indigenous women in this country, and are more likely to die violently.

In many indigenous cultures and societies, we are taught to honour women as life-givers, as knowledge-keepers, as storytellers, as medicine women, as word-carriers, as community members, and as human beings, and colonialism has impacted negatively on those values.

The violence that is perpetrated against indigenous women is the same violence against the environment today and the same violence that assaulted parents and grandparents in residential schools.

Let me quote from the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R. v. Ipeelee. The court said:

To be clear, courts must take judicial notice of such matters as the history of colonialism, displacement, and residential schools and how that history continues to translate into lower educational attainment, lower incomes, higher unemployment, higher rates of substance abuse and suicide....

Yet the Prime Minister, incredibly, said not too long ago that we have no history of colonialism in this country.

Let me tell a story about a little boy named Jonish, who was sent to a residential school in 1954. He was five years old. He never came back. Apparently, he died the first year he arrived at the residential school.

His mom never knew, until after two years, of his death. His mom, my mom, for 40 years never knew where Jonish was buried. It was only by coincidence that one of my sisters happened to be in the area one day, and someone told her, “I know where your little brother is buried”.

After 40 years, my sister filmed the site where he was buried and brought the film back to my mom to show her. Just imagine. It was 40 years until she found out where my little brother lay.

I do not know if any of the members have seen their mother cry. I saw my mother cry many times, but the day she saw that video—I had never seen her cry that way. That was closure. That is what we call closure. That is the closest she could get to final closure for her son.

This is what indigenous families in this country need. That is what they want. That is why they are calling for this national inquiry.

Where is the Canada we used to know, the one that has a history of upholding high standards of human rights and social democratic values in this country? Where is it? Even when faced with fundamental legislative changes and challenges to the social structure, we used to have that Canada. It is no longer here.

Therefore, I submit very respectfully that an inquiry would fall into the legacy that this country has. That is why the NDP is calling for that inquiry and it is why the NDP, together with other families and Canadians across this country, want that inquiry.

I stand here today on behalf of the families of the missing and murdered indigenous women so that we can heed their calls for a national inquiry. It is their time. Let us give them their time so that they can get close to the closure that they also need.

That is why our party will call that inquiry no longer than 100 days after our election as a government. We will provide the justice that we all need.

Status of Women September 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our actions in this country must be consistent with justice and reconciliation.

Today, we will set aside the government's agenda and move concurrence in the committee's report.

Canadians understand the importance of calling an inquiry. Canadians know violence against indigenous women must be ended. An inquiry is a crucial step along that path. Why will the government not finally agree to call an inquiry?