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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

Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is asking me how I would react if I were part of the government. I can assure my colleague that that I will be in 2015, and Canadians will confirm that quickly enough.

This is an urgent situation. Parliament has to make a fundamental decision, and we are being asked hypothetical questions. We do not have all the information. We are not well-informed. We cannot make an informed decision on this subject. What is worse, we are not even being given the democratic opportunity to vote on this issue.

Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague opposite for the question.

Of course, the political situation is critical, not only in Iraq, but also all over the world. Each country must address these situations in its foreign policy. These policies are being challenged, to put it mildly. There are currently some very difficult situations all over the world.

However, since we are talking about Canadian values, I want to say that when I arrived here in Parliament, it was my understanding that one Canadian value was that Parliament had a role to play in these types of decisions. Parliament is the highest democratic institution in our country, and parliamentarians, who are elected by the Canadian public, must be allowed to vote on decisions related to military deployments. That is a Canadian value. That is what the member's leader promised—first in 2004, and against in 2005-06. He just broke his promise. I do not think that is a Canadian value.

Situation in Iraq September 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise this evening and privileged to follow the NDP member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie. I truly respect her contribution to the House and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development because she brings to bear her experience as a diplomat around the world. We appreciate having her with us, and it is an honour to follow her this evening in this deeply important debate.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie for taking the initiative to propose an emergency debate on Canada's response to the situation in Iraq. We can all agree that the situation must be addressed urgently.

It is always an honour to rise in the House to discuss a situation that demands our full attention. We do not often have the opportunity to discuss situations that are not only urgent, but also critical. That is why tonight's debate was given its title.

The situation in Iraq must command our attention as MPs, of course, but also as a country. We all agree that the violence employed by the Islamic State of Iraq is extremely horrible and shocking. It is totally reprehensible. That cannot be said too often. We have agreed almost unanimously that Canada should be involved in certain aspects of the situation.

As an aside, when it comes to Canada's role in the world, I would like to add that I have participated in processes at the international level for the past 23 years. I have participated in multilateral negotiations for the past 23 years to negotiate declarations, specifically. There was a time when Canada's reputation was the envy of countries around the world. I would even say that ours was a very enviable position. I can attest to the fact that, when Canada took a stand on a contentious issue during the debates and multilateral negotiations held by the United Nations, other countries listened. Our role is therefore to define our foreign policy. Over the past few years, we have lost the important role we used to play.

The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra just said that our reputation is undermining our role in the international arena, or something like that—I only quickly jotted down what she said. I think it is worse than that because it particularly undermines our credibility when we take leadership in the international arena. It undermines our credibility and, as a result, our influence on the world stage. How can we influence others in a critical situation if we no longer have credibility and have lost the reputation we once had? It is unfortunate that it has come to that.

The same challenges arise in all similar situations we have seen around the world virtually forever; these challenges are complex and difficult, on both a political and humanitarian level, as my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie just mentioned. I would add on a human rights level, too. Indeed, we are also currently dealing with human rights issues in Iraq.

Anyone who has listened to the debate so far will certainly know that these challenges are political because of the positions expressed by both sides. Some people are looking for answers before sending in the military, which is absolutely commendable. Anyone who takes a reasonable position in this case must know what they are getting into. No one has all the answers. I was elected to the House to make informed decisions, which is what I have tried to do all my life in the positions and roles I have held. When I negotiated agreements, my people always demanded informed responses before a decision was made in order to act accordingly. We do not have that opportunity right now. There is already a political problem.

Some members are looking for answers, while others want to move forward without providing these critical and fundamental answers. Their allies in the House are saying that they do not have all the answers but that they will move forward anyway. Earlier, the Leader of the Opposition said that the NDP will not agree to proceed in this way. We cannot move forward with certain aspects of the proposal until we are fully informed. That is very important.

Despite the $28 million that has already been allocated—and we commend the parliamentary secretary for that—there are still ongoing needs in several areas. For example, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said:

[There is an urgent need for] more financial support to be able to meet the needs of forcibly displaced people and host communities across Iraq. As part of the UN humanitarian relief effort, UNHCR will soon launch an appeal for US$315 million to meet the needs of the internally displaced in Iraq. The main focus will be on providing life-saving protection services and assistance to respond to the most urgent basic needs of displaced Iraqis, including winterization support.

We must commend our government for the funds that have already been allocated, but we also need to reassess the situation and meet the needs that were identified by the United Nations.

I would like to quickly come back to the role that Parliament must play in this situation and in the government's current proposal. Parliament has a critical role to play. We are elected officials and we are here to make decisions. They must be smart and informed decisions. What is more, Parliament must play a decision-making role when it comes to military interventions and deployments abroad. It seems as though we will not have that opportunity. We are being told not to worry and that everything will work out. We cannot accept such a proposal.

Status of Women September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has decided to refuse to call a national inquiry because he does not think the disappearance and murder of close to 1,200 aboriginal women and girls is a systemic problem. Aboriginal communities and the provinces are unanimous in their desire to move forward.

Why are the Conservatives refusing this inquiry? Do they not understand that they are now completely alone in this?

Aboriginal Affairs June 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, here is the real premise of the question.

The federal government's apology should be the start of a reconciliation process with the aboriginal peoples. However, if the Conservatives continue to hide information about what happened in residential schools, victims will never be able to move past that trauma.

Even after a court ruling in favour of the victims, they are still fighting for justice.

When will the Conservatives stop their obstruction and make every single document public? When?

International Trade June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, a fact is a fact.

When the Conservatives arrived in 2006, we had a $26 billion trade surplus. Today we have a $62 billion trade deficit. That is a difference of $80 billion. They talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk.

Last October, they said that the agreement with Europe had been finalized, but five months later they cannot provide us with a single shred of paper.

Can the minister just be honest in the House and admit that they celebrated too late? Will they admit that there are a number of details to work out and tell us—

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the things we hear in the House at this time of night can be quite amusing. I will not repeat them.

I listened closely to my colleague's speech. As I was listening to the Conservative member's question, I was reminded why Canada's international reputation has suffered so greatly. We were in a very enviable position for quite some time. Our reputation was strong and solid until the Conservatives came to power. We are slowly losing our global influence. We on this side have been saying that the free trade agreements we are negotiating need to be in line with Canadian values. I would like to quote Sheila Katz, who said this:

The Americas Policy Group has recommended that Canada refrain from concluding free trade agreements with countries that have poor democratic governance and human rights records.

Would my colleague like to comment on that?

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak again on this issue this evening.

I was involved in multilateral negotiations at the international level for over 25 years. I know how complex this process can be and how issues can sometimes be extremely complicated. Many factors must be considered when we negotiate agreements.

I am rather intrigued by the question asked by the hon. member for Winnipeg North, who spoke about free trade in general terms. His party that applauded the recent agreement with the European Union without even having read it. I clearly remember his leader, the hon. member for Papineau, rising in the House to applaud the Prime Minister for signing an agreement with the European Union, which he had not even read. We should show some sensitivity when we are dealing with these issues.

As I have always done with international issues, I read several reports, particularly the report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which deals with aboriginal people. As we know, a number of mining companies are active in Latin America. Relations with first nations, with the aboriginal peoples of these countries, are very important.

I am familiar with the hon. member's experience. I wonder if he could tell us about it.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, frankly, the questions and comments of the Liberal Party and our Conservative friend are ridiculous. The facts and figures show that they did not succeed in that regard either.

My colleague briefly described the three most important criteria when it comes to free trade agreements. First, the proposed partner's economy must be of value to Canada. Second, the terms of the agreement must be beneficial to our country. Third—and a number of members have talked about this—the proposed partner must respect human rights and meet high environmental and labour standards. This agreement does not meet these very important criteria.

Earlier, I read the most recent report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination or the CERD, as it is called at the international level. This report, dated March 13, 2014, is quite critical of Honduras' track record, particularly when it comes to respecting human rights.

Members of the United Nations are required to honour the Charter of the United Nations, which requires us to promote and protect human rights. We need to consider those issues when we negotiate agreements.

Does my colleague agree with me?

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am always astonished by the way the Conservatives talk about their record on free trade with other countries.

Honduras, for instance, ranks about 104th on the list of Canada’s export markets. In 2012, Canada exported $38 million in goods to Honduras and imported $218 million. We have to recognize that this is quite a substantial trade deficit.

When this government came to power in 2006, our trade surplus was $26 billion. Today, we have a deficit of $62 billion in terms of our trade with other countries.

Can my colleague explain what has gone wrong?