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NDP MP for Jeanne-Le Ber (Québec)
Won his last election, in 2011, with 44.70% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Obesity December 4th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the motion. I would like to thank the member for Burlington for bringing it forward. I do not think he will get much argument on the value or the intent of the motion.
I have listened to both of my colleagues speak to the issue and I would like to add my voice to this.
First, I would like to put my own thought process out there.
In my previous life as an actor, in building a character, one of the things that was very important in that process was justification for the things that were done. If I was moving from point A to point B, why would I do that? I bring this up because I think we need to look at why we are doing this. It is one thing to put a motion forward to say that we need to be aware of obesity, but it is another thing to say that we need to be aware of obesity and take certain steps to combat it.
I have been hearing much talk about activity, and yes, activity is hugely important in all health issues. For obesity, heart and stroke, whatever, activity is extremely important. However, there is one thing that was missed, which I will put on the table now and come back to. We have also talked about trans fats and salt, but nobody has mentioned the sugar content in food.
We have a situation where the prevalence of obesity has dramatically increased, especially in our young people. It has almost doubled in some cases and quadrupled in other cases. We have one in 10 children who are affected by obesity in one respect or another. Therefore, 10% of children will go on to be obese, not simply because of the fact that they are obese as children but because of the habits they adopt as children, which will follow them throughout their lives.
One child in 14 is getting one hour of physical activity a day. Once upon a time, we used to get up and go out to play, but now we get up and play on the Xbox and whatnot.
However, I will go back to the sugar factor. The risk factors for obesity include inadequate housing, social exclusion and various social influences. They create a situation where people, young and old, have to resort to fast food, microwavable foods, processed and prepared foods, as a means of putting food on the table.
I am type 2 diabetic. I was diagnosed in 1997. I have treated it on and off over the years. In the last few months I had some issues and I have effectively lost vision in my right eye due to diabetic retinopathy.
Sugar is in processed foods to the nth degree. Some people say it is addictive because one just cannot get enough. However, if there is one cause directly linked to diabetes, type 1 or type 2, it is the intake of sugar and the body's ability to process it. This is particularly a problem within certain socio-economic groups because of their reliance on prepared and processed foods.
In combatting obesity, activity is one of the things we need to encourage, but we also need to look at food intake. Government is not here to legislate what people should or should not eat, but what it can do is take a leadership role in ensuring that people are well informed as to what they are putting into their bodies. Yes, there are little squares on the sides of packets and so forth that inform us about caloric value, or what is in a bottle of juice or the food that we eat, but people do not always understand how to read those things. One thing we can do is create an environment where people can become informed about the value of the food being eaten.
It is said that four grams of sugar represents one sugar cube, which means a bottle of juice, which is said to be healthy, can have 42 grams of sugar in it. That is basically drinking 10 sugar cubes. People do not know this. They look at the calories, they look to see that there is no fat in it, they look to see that there might be a bit of protein in it, but they do not look for the sugar content. This is something that contributes to type 2 diabetes, in particular. This is something that hits the people living in the lower socio-economic world most directly, because in their world, where they have one or two jobs, both parents are working, kids are trying to get to school, parents want to get them in and out and they have to be fed, it is easier to give them $10 or $15 to go to McDonald's or keep a load of frozen dinners in the fridge.
First, we need to take a leadership role in informing people about the food they are eating. Second, we need to take a leadership role in mandating that companies that make processed food clearly identify what is in their food in such a way that it can help parents make the proper choices for their kids. Activity and food intake is important and understanding what we are putting into our bodies is important. Those are the first few steps in combatting obesity: better awareness of what we are doing; better awareness of the properties in food; and better awareness of what is available to people.
Intergovernmental Relations November 29th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, $2 million in federal subsidies go to Tourism Montreal.
This matter must be taken seriously. Mismanagement problems are increasing in organizations under federal responsibility. Today it is Tourism Montreal, but a few months ago, it was the Old Port.
Instead of simply reacting after each problem occurs, what measures will the Conservatives bring in to prevent such problems?
Intergovernmental Relations November 29th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, this week we learned about the lavish lifestyle led by the president of Tourism Montreal and a former Liberal minister, Charles Lapointe. Limousines, an outrageous severance package and inflated salaries: nothing was too good for Mr. Lapointe.
Ottawa provides funding to Tourism Montreal every year.
Will the federal government hold Tourism Montreal accountable for this mismanagement by a notable Liberal?
Respect for Communities Act November 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, in her speech, my colleague expressed disappointment that the government placed this bill in a justice context, rather than a health context. I want to give my colleague the opportunity to talk more about this, because it is truly a health issue, not just a crime issue.
All this bill seems to do is pass judgment on people who have an addiction, instead of realizing that such people have problems and need help.
Respect for Communities Act November 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his insight, no pun intended, into what has proven to be quite a successful community engagement in Vancouver.
I would challenge anybody in the House to find any drug user who does drugs because he or she wants to or because it would be a good time. Most, if not all, drug users are people who have scars, wounds and things in their lives that they want to hide from.
It seems to me that any legislation on this level should be coming from the perspective of how we can help organizations like this integrate into the community. How can we help organizations like this work with the community so they can serve the community, as opposed to putting up barriers and making it more difficult for organizations like this to exist?
I would like my hon. colleague to comment on that.
Respect for Communities Act November 28th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I am intrigued by the quickness and haphazard way the bill was developed. It appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to losing the decision of the Supreme Court, which stated that under certain conditions safe injection sites are not necessarily a bad idea.
At one point, my riding was considered for an injection site. I think community involvement is something that every potential safe injection site looks for.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague this question, in terms of the dangers of not having a safe injection site, where needles are used haphazardly all over the place. I was involved in a cleanup project with an organization. We found literally dozens of needles in parks where kids play. Had there been a safe injection site, those needles would have been disposed of in a way that does not harm or threaten our children. That protects our community plus offers the opportunity for those individuals who are under duress or the problems of substance abuse to potentially find their way to a better place. Is this not protecting our communities? Is this not helping our communities?
Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 October 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, one of the government members mentioned that it created these omnibus bills to get things done. I want to ask my colleague if he would comment on this ends justifies the means type of attitude, particularly in terms where the Conservatives seem to divide Canadian workers from Canadians. Canadian workers are the bulk of Canadian citizens. Thus, the attacks they are making on these workers are attacks on Canadians. Would my hon. colleague comment on that?
Project BUMP October 25th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, on October 10, 2013, the Little Burgundy community and I celebrated the 10th anniversary of project BUMP. My heartfelt congratulations go to Steve, Francesco and Renée for their ongoing work with youth through this project.
Ten years ago, in response to the violence that engulfed Little Burgundy, Rosemary Segee took it upon herself to develop a means to bring her community together in settling its conflicts and project BUMP was born.
Ten years later, Little Burgundy is a new community. The joint efforts of the police, organizations and the community help our young people reach their full potential, be more determined and accomplish great things.
I stand in this place today and proudly offer my most sincere thanks to all those who work so tirelessly with and for our young people.
Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act October 24th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-462. From the outset, I would say that I support the bill put forward by my hon. colleague, which aims to cap the amount of fees an individual, an organization, or a company can charge people who are claiming or using the instrument of the disability tax credit.
The tax codes, the fiscal pages that govern this country, are large and many. One cannot blame individuals who feel that they need a hand in deciphering some of that information in order to use the various instruments and tools available to them to maximize their tax dollars and maximize their ability to make ends meet, especially in the case of people who are living with disabilities and the families that care for them.
The disability tax credit works for Canadians. It is something that, unfortunately, too many Canadians do not know enough about.
The only issue I have with Bill C-462 is that it does not go far enough in identifying and fixing some of the problems that lead to this need for disability tax credit promoters or agents. We need to take a look at that.
We all try to do the best we can for families. The people who stand in this House and work every day for their constituents are here because they believe in working for their constituents. In February, for example, I held a forum in my riding to give my constituents the information and tools necessary to apply for the disability tax credit. My colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster came and lent his expertise to the discussion. I had a very good turnout for that forum. As a result, I received word that a number of individuals who attended were able to apply for the disability tax credit and were eligible for some sizeable amounts of money retroactively due to that information.
That takes me to the crux of my discussion, which is that we, as the government and members of this House, need to put more emphasis and more energy into informing individuals about the need for promoters and agents who claim to be there to help individuals navigate the pages of the disability tax credit. I am sure that many are legitimate and are there to legitimately help individuals. However, as in every situation, a few bad apples give the practice a bad name. The need for these agents is the question I have. Why is it that the government, we as members of Parliament, are not giving our constituents the information they need to apply for those disability tax credits?
During the course of the months following the forum I gave, individuals would call my office, and my staff were able to help them fill out some of the forms or point them in the right direction as to what they should be doing. This is something I think is lacking with respect to this bill. It is one thing to say that we will cap the fees and that agents or promoters who violate those caps would be in trouble. It is another to provide the means, the opportunity, and the information Canadians need to not have to avail themselves of promoters and/or agents in this area of disability tax credits.
The other side of that is the cuts. Even though the government is claiming that the cuts to the CRA services available to Canadians to get the help they need are not affecting Canadians, is not true. Canadians are having a harder time getting in touch with the agencies to be able to get the information that they need, to navigate the pages, be it the tax act, employment insurance, Service Canada, Canada Revenue Agency. Canadians are having a harder time getting that type of information. It creates a false need for these promoters and agents, particularly in the disability tax area.
This opens the door to people charging exorbitant amounts for their services, as was said in the House previously. Some 30% to 40% of the moneys that are due end up going to certain types of promoters and certain types of agents. It behooves us as members of the House and as the government to make sure that Canadians have the information that they need in terms of instruments such as the disability tax credit, so they do not have to lean on outside or private interests to help them.
I stand in support of the heart and soul of the bill, but I take issue with the fact that the maximum amounts were not identified at committee. Will the government let the legitimate members of the community who are out there trying to help people make the best of the disability tax credits know? How will they know what those caps are? How will they know if they are crossing the line? On the other side of that coin, how will people who are claiming disability tax credits and looking for the help of these agents and promoters know what their rights are in terms of what can be charged to them?
Again, I stand in support of the bill and it is a step in the right direction in regard to protecting consumers from opportunistic individuals or organizations, but it can go a little further. It begs the question, what more can we do as the government? What more can we do as members of Parliament to make sure that our constituents and Canadians know what their rights are and know how to access instruments such as the disability tax credit?
I will use my last 30 seconds to thank the Speaker for his ear. It is a pleasure to stand in the House and speak to a bill such as this.
Canadian Museum of History Act June 17th, 2013
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed important that all the information and all the aspects of history he mentioned be included in the venues that represent Canada and its history.
Rather than basically changing the whole thing, why not create the means to give the resources to the Museum of Civilization to expand its mandate or to include them? I agree that these things should be there. Do we need to make a whole new museum to do that?