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  • His favourite word is colleague.

NDP MP for Jeanne-Le Ber (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 44.70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the member's perspective. As I have said before, it behooves this place to ensure that all parties involved are heard and can participate. In essence, that is the problem. There is not only one party, the Government of Canada, there is a multi-party system, as well as the Canadians who the House serves. It is their voices that we all represent and their voices we need to ensure are heard in this place.

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I guess “double standard” is the catchphrase. I am giving the hon. members a gift, a gift of knowledge and wisdom: double standards are the force of the current government.

It is about doing it right. It is not about winning or losing. It is about doing what is best for everyone involved, for all the parties involved. As I said to my colleague across the way, it is about ensuring that all parties with a vested interest in the area that the bill touches on walk away with a sense that they have accomplished what they needed to accomplish.

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the question is, but I touched on that aspect in my statement. The issue is with the way many of these bills are put forward, and this bill in particular. Bringing forward the idea of returning the farmland is an interesting concept and seems like a positive concept; however, if we are doing that at the cost of the environmental protection of the area for future generations, if we are doing that at the expense of protective laws that already exist, and if the province itself is not willing to participate under those conditions, then I think more discussion needs to be had. I think the bill needs to be created in such a way that all parties can walk away saying that this legislation serves everyone: the farmers, the conservationists, and the people in the Rouge River area.

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

It's right here. It's right here.

There is one particular part of this bill that I want to point out. This bill, as it stands, says that the ecological or conservational aspects of any decision made under this bill only need to be considered, as opposed to what exists now, which says that the conservational relationship or impact of any decision that is made must be the priority. This is truly important.

Many times the broad-stroke approach of the government relies on the idea that Canadians are not interested in the details, but that is a detail that is extremely important. With this bill, no longer is conservation of paramount importance in making decisions; it needs only to be considered. This bill would weaken the existing environmental protection and would set a dangerous precedent for the development of future parks. The government consistently wants broad-stroke ideas, but Canadians are interested in the actual substance of the bill. When a bill proposes to change existing laws so that conservation would only have to be considered, as opposed to being a mandatory priority, then there is a problem.

With that, I will end my comments.

Rouge National Urban Park Act December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-40. I was not expecting to speak to it because it concerns the urban area in Toronto. However, as my colleague mentioned, we do have some urban parks, although not as connected as what is intended for this park, and we see the importance of having an urban green space available to citizens.

The more things change, the more things stay the same. For example, the Conservatives now want us to think that they have all of a sudden become environmentally conscientious and conservationists overnight. They introduced Bill C-40, which is ironically called “an act respecting the Rouge National Urban Park”, and I will touch on the irony of that a little later. However, the Conservative government continuously wants us to accept these sort of broad-stroke grand ideas and overlook the poison pill aspect of them.

Before I continue, I would like to inform you, Mr. Speaker, that I will be splitting my time with my dear colleague, the member for Newton—North Delta.

The Conservatives consistently want to say in so many cases, like in this case, that NDP members do not support the building of a park. They say that we do not support many things, and that we did not vote for this or that. However, they leave out the very important fact that all of these sometimes reasonable and even good things that the government may propose are wrapped up in blankets of harmful and sometimes mean-spirited bills. They are tied up in 500-page documents, and we have to vote once to change over 200 environmental protection laws.

Quite honestly, the Conservative government cannot be trusted with our parks. It is clear that the Conservatives do not believe in conservation or scientific monitoring, which jeopardizes the ecological integrity of our national parks.

As some of my colleagues alluded to earlier, in 2012, the Conservatives cut $29 million to Parks Canada, which meant a reduction of over 600 positions. Parks Canada was decreased by one-third of its capacity in scientific research.

I heard my hon. colleague across the way say that $120 some-odd million was not a drop in the bucket. Yes, it is a lot of money, but is it enough? There was a $29 million cut that meant the loss of 600 positions and one-third of Parks Canada's capacity for scientific and ecological exploration, which is harmful. There are 600 less people to help and guide Canadians through our parks. The parks are opening later and closing earlier as a result, which limits access for Canadians to these parks. The lessened ability for scientific research means that we are put in a position where we are reacting to ecological threats and potential diseases in our parks as opposed to being proactive with these issues. This is concerning to us.

Bill C-40, an act respecting the Rouge National Urban Park, is not even accepted by the Ontario government. The Ontario government is refusing to release the lands to the federal government to create this park because the bill would diminish some 11 existing laws that currently protect this territory, namely the Ontario Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act.

This act is to:

...permanently protect a system of provincial parks and conservation reserves that includes ecosystems that are representative of all of Ontario’s natural regions, protects provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage, maintains biodiversity and provides opportunities for compatible, ecologically sustainable recreation.

Bill C-40 would not do this. It does not embrace the strong foundation of conservation policy provided under the existing legislation. In fact, as written, Bill C-40 threatens the ecological integrity and health of the Rouge River.

It seems that our job here is to do things right, and that does not seem to be happening with the current government. There seems to be a consistent desire to rush headlong into creating bills with catchy titles and catchy sound bites rather than bills of substance. When the Ontario government, which the federal government is supposed to be collaborating with, says this bill does not work, the Conservative government needs to listen.

There has been a lack of listening by the government on many other issues, including in the courts, where attempts to establish minimum mandatory sentences have repeatedly been overturned. In this case, the government has created a bill that is supposed to protect a park, but in fact the bill threatens the very area that it claims to want to protect.

If the government wants to create a space for Canadians to enjoy and for future generations to visit and if it wants to protect the thousands of species of wildlife and fauna that currently call Rouge River home, then why not abandon this window-dressing bill and support the ideas and thoughts of the New Democrats and the bill that we will be presenting shortly to the House, which would work with the province in order to create an environment that Canadians and the community are looking for? As I said, New Democrats will be introducing a bill that would answer that question. The bill before us does not go far enough and, as I have said before, would actually diminish what already exists.

The role that we take on as legislators is to draft laws that are meaningful and move our society forward. It is a shame that the government constantly squanders its opportunities to create bills of substance, instead creating bills that pander and have little substance other than catchy sound bites.

Drug-Free Prisons Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, to add to my colleague's response to the parliamentary secretary's question, the NDP appeals to the innate human nature and humankind of Canadians. That is the base we appeal to.

I was trying to find some independent statistics on the number of individuals who are lifers in prison. The numbers I have found range from 15% to one-third, which means that two-thirds or more of these individuals will be leaving prison at some point. It seems to me that the money would be better spent on making sure that once these individuals leave prison they have the support they need to ensure that they do not reoffend, that they do not end up back in the system, and that they do not create new victims. In my view, this is a way that we can protect our society and make sure that Canadians are safe.

I wonder if my colleague would care to comment on that thought.

Drug-Free Prisons Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my hon. colleague can give his opinion on the link between acts like solitary confinement and the use of drugs in terms of our better understanding as we move along. Drugs are not always a choice but rather a way in which people hide from whatever pain they are suffering. In the case of people who are going through solitary confinement, how does this help them find a way off of drugs?

Lincoln Alexander Day December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as always, it is with pride that I stand in the House today to speak to my colleagues and the Canadian people, particularly on this day, on this bill.

I would like to thank the member for Hamilton Mountain. A year ago, the member put forward Bill C-563 which, in effect, is this bill. It is good to see that even though it has changed its title, it has come to this place to be heard for the third time. I do believe it will pass.

We all have dreams. We all have individuals in our life who we look to and say “I want to be just like that person”. Following up on the question I asked my colleague, this is an important aspect of why we should support the bill. It is why I and my colleagues support this bill moving forward, making January 21 Lincoln Alexander day in recognition of the fine work he did.

All of my colleagues who have spoken to this bill in the past have spoken to the dedication and passion of Lincoln Alexander, former Lieutenant Governor, and of the contributions he has made to our country, to Canadians and Ontarians.

I would like to highlight the contribution that he has made in terms of being a focal point, or a beacon to the black community in Canada. As I said, we all have dreams. When I was about seven years old, I saw Sidney Poitier in To Sir, with Love. In seeing that, it solidified in mind that, yes, I would be an actor but not only that, this is how I would do it. That was the beginning of my road. I had, like so many of us, individuals who helped guide me in that direction.

The importance of this bill is that it allows for the story of Lincoln Alexander to represent the same kind of beacon, the same kind of guidance, the same kind of pride to the community of communities; that is the black community in Canada.

Lincoln Alexander, indeed, overcame the barriers and walls that existed in his time to become the first on many levels. We do look at firsts in our community as being significant. There are times where in areas of the world or in certain activities, it is expected that people of African descent will participate, to excel. There are areas of the world or activities where that is not so open.

Before there were the Williams sisters, Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe in the world of tennis, which was a very closed world. Before there was Tiger Woods, there was Charlie Sifford, who became the first person of African descent to play in the PGA tour.

Like these trailblazers, Lincoln Alexander holds that very proud distinction in the world of Canadian politics. In a world where history has forgotten many of the stories that have been forged in Canadian history and in world history, recognizing the accomplishments of Lincoln Alexander on January 21 each year will give a focus to young people.

As my colleague has pointed out many times, the importance of young people to Mr. Lincoln Alexander goes unsaid. Like so many individuals who care about the future, Lincoln Alexander did what he had to do, not only because it was his time to do it, but to blaze a trail forward for those who came after him, including myself. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before, and I count myself as one who stands on the shoulders of Lincoln Alexander.

The bill is important because it sends a very clear message to those who have a vision. It sends the message that it can be done and should be done. It sends a message that underlines the continuing march towards inherent inclusion and the further distancing from the hard-fought merits of inclusion. It solidifies the history, place, life, times and works of Lincoln Alexander. Therefore, it cannot be lost in the history of our country.

It becomes a beacon, much like the beacons I have followed, for future generations. It becomes a point for young people sitting at their desk thinking they would like to be a part of change in our country, a part of contributing to our country. Lincoln Alexander is a beacon in how that can be done and the fact that it could be done.

My support, and all of our support, for this bill means that we are participating in the making of dreams; the dreams of those who are just beginning to dream as well as those who are well on the road to achieving their dreams. It allows those dreams to be attained. It allows those dreams to become a reality.

Above all else in his accomplishments, if he were with us today, I think Lincoln Alexander would be quite proud to be a beacon for those young people and their dreams.

Lincoln Alexander Day December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague if he would share his thoughts a little further on why this bill and recognizing January 21 as Lincoln Alexander Day is an important thing for the House to do.

Agricultural Growth Act November 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue this discussion, but from the point of view of the consumer.

I live in an urban riding. I have a very popular farmers' market, Atwater Market, in my riding, and I do a lot of my shopping at Jean-Talon Market, which is the biggest farmers' market in Montreal. Many consumers, especially urban consumers, are looking to begin a process of sourcing by buying organic and ensuring they are supporting local producers.

With this section on seed control, for lack of a better way of putting it, how are consumers going to be able to track where their food comes from, as the provisions in this act would narrow the availability of seed sources?