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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was problem.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 25% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this is not a very nice subject of conversation. This is a humiliating and insulting Canadian failure. Canada is one of the richest countries in the world, but a significant portion of its population has been condemned to suffer from hunger because of its ethnicity. This is not true to Canadian values.

When I became active within the NDP, Tommy Douglas was still an MP. He was no longer the party leader, but he was still there. If he had seen situations like this, he would not have been very happy. This conflicts with all of my values.

This is a dismal failure on all counts. One by one, I have looked at all of the aboriginal affairs programs audited by the Auditor General of Canada, and not one of them is working. In no case did the Auditor General say that the government did a good job. Results are systematically poor. Given so many failures with respect to an ethnic community in Canada, we have to wonder if the government is serious about wanting to work with that community.

The nutrition north program is incomplete. The Conservatives say it is excellent, but that is definitely not the case, since it does not reach everyone who needs it. How can a service be useful when someone decides that 50 communities will not have access to it? That cannot work.

The Auditor General was not satisfied with the department's analysis of its own performance. Yes, that is right, the department assesses its own performance. The Auditor General said that the department was reporting lower prices, when he actually found higher prices. In theory, this program should help bring prices down. The Auditor General said he does not understand how the department could have come up with lower prices, but no one will talk about it.

We were told that things would be fixed, but when the Auditor General asked the department whether it had asked food retailers if they were keeping the subsidies for themselves or using them to lower prices, the department replied that it could not ask them that question, under the pretext that it would breach the businesses' commercial confidentiality. Wow. It is therefore abundantly clear that the people's right to have healthy, affordable food has been tossed out the window.

However, that is not all. The department said it would fix the situation, but the Auditor General is getting fed up. He reviewed all of the promises the department had made about fixing things and found that the government was not meeting its commitments. The Auditor General told us that this government made some commitments to follow up on his recommendations, but then it did not honour them. This government's commitments are worth about as much as the commitments that the Auditor General has verified in the past.

Food insecurity in remote communities is a serious problem. I would like to cite a Statistics Canada study. We could refer to studies by the United Nations representative or other studies, but this one is quite critical.

It is a Statistics Canada study from 2008-09 showing that the situation has deteriorated ever since. It has not improved. It has gotten worse. In Nunavut, 32.6% of the population experienced food insecurity, 11.5% of which experienced serious insecurity. That does not mean going without a meal a few times a week. It means rarely eating all week. We are talking quite literally about starvation.

What is this fine government's response? When children are too skinny and seniors are trembling with hunger, the government puts them on a plane to get treatment in southern Canada, where the hospital will feed them. What a wonderful solution. That is what we call sweeping the problem under the rug. Unfortunately, this government does that far too often.

Population growth in the Northwest Territories is quite extraordinary, which is fortunate because life there is not easy. Nevertheless, the population growth there is five times greater than it is here. In 10 years, the population grew by 45%. That is quite the boom. The problem is that when a population grows by 45% in 10 years and the services do not keep pace, then a larger number of people have to share fewer things. Unless the Conservatives take themselves for Christ and can multiply loaves and fishes, it is clear that people are going hungry and will continue to suffer. The population growth being what it is, more and more people will have to share the same amount of groceries that there ever was. It does not take a genius to figure that out. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of those across the way.

We spoke about housing, drinking water and access to quality education. Nothing is working, absolutely nothing. We have reached a point where, in a report on Indian residential schools, a judge declared that this constitutes cultural genocide. The government lets people go hungry knowingly and willfully. Everyone has told the government that people are hungry. They do not go to the dump for the fun of it. They want to eat and they do not have access to good quality food. They do not have access to quality housing, they do not have access to clean drinking water and they do not have access to health care. All of this has significant consequences for their situation, resulting in a high mortality rate for very young children, a much shorter life expectancy, major health problems and addiction problems. Name a problem and they have it. The only thing that they do not have are solutions.

This motion provides a solution. It is a balanced solution, one that does not reinvent the wheel. We were already on the brink of committing genocide when we refused to help communities at risk. Obviously, doing nothing when we know that these communities are at risk is definitely an act of genocide. We would be refusing to help communities at risk without being concerned about the people who would suffer. For that reason it is important to act now. There are some people who are too focused on budget measures. The situation must be addressed by doing what the motion proposes. We will not be rediscovering the world, but just simply ensuring that everyone can benefit from a program.

We are faced with budget cuts. I would like to know how many of us would accept budget cuts that would make our children go hungry?

Business of Supply June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, one of the problems that has not been talked about enough—and I see the parliamentary secretary sneaking out—is that the growth rate of the nutrition north budget is half the natural population growth rate. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the money will have run out in 10 years. If the same budget is always allocated to help a growing population, members of that population will be getting smaller and smaller shares. That is how major food problems occur.

I would like to remind the hon. member that part of the population in question is dealing with an ongoing food shortage. That means that people's health is affected by the lack of food. I would therefore like him to find a non-budgetary solution to this problem because it is not true that more and more people can be fed with less and less money.

Business of Supply June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will not hide the fact that I was extremely disappointed by the government member's remarks.

He referred to the Auditor General's report on the nutrition north program, but he said exactly the opposite of what is written in the report. The Auditor General saw some things that are unacceptable. For instance, he stated in his report that the lower prices that were supposedly observed were false.

He also said he was shocked to note that food retailers are not required to disclose their profit margins, under the pretext that that would go against commercial confidentiality. It would appear that commercial confidentiality is more important to the department than delivering food.

If the program is working so well, if the member truly believes that the Auditor General and all the stakeholders agree with him, can he explain to us why people are being forced to go to the dump to scavenge for food?

Can he explain to us why severe food insecurity, which means that people are in danger, affects 33% of people in Canada's far north?

Petitions June 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by approximately 100 merchants in my riding who want to send a clear message that credit card fees are far too high. Asking banks to voluntarily lower fees to 1.5% is not enough when we consider what is happening in Europe and Australia, where the rates are 0.3%, 0.5% and 0.8%, and not 1.5%.

Digital Privacy Act May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to stress the word “debate”, since the minister always talks about debate, but that implies some sort of exchange. In this case there is no debate, which unfortunately is nothing new from this government.

I would like the minister to tell us how many times the government accepted amendments and listened, analyzed and took action, instead of just exchanging words. On occasion, the opposition has admitted that some bills were good and that they could be improved. Bill C-51 was a prime example of a failure. Even the government's witnesses said that it was not a good bill. However, the government systematically issues gag orders and shuts down debate. It shuts down the opposition, it shuts down disagreement and it shuts down any possibility for amendment.

Why does the minister use the word “debate” when this government systematically shuns debate?

Petitions May 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition to abolish the Senate signed by several hundred people.

It has become abundantly clear that the Senate is failing to uphold Canadian values, and the vast majority of Canadians agree with me on that. Several hundred of them decided to take action and officially call for the abolition of that institution. Nearly half of its members will be facing reprimands, reimbursements and even prosecution.

I think that these Canadians are absolutely right to be calling for the abolition of an institution that is so undemocratic, not to mention plagued by scandal. I am therefore pleased to present this petition.

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the seriousness of my colleague's presentation.

With regard to duck hunting, it was decided, through regulations and international conventions, that hunting rifles cannot contain more than three shells, to give the game the chance to escape and to prevent overhunting.

We do it for ducks. Unfortunately, we too often allow firearms to which a magazine that can hold 60, 50 or 40 extra rounds can be attached to be sold over the counter. Incidentally, it is legal to go hunting with this type of firearm with 40 rounds.

My colleague thinks this is amusing, but I would like to point out that the most recent mass murders in Canada were committed with this type of weapon. He thinks this is ridiculous and funny. He is typically Tory. We cannot expect a Conservative to understand the danger of a firearm.

Since there are stringent regulations to make certain firearms less dangerous, why do we not apply those regulations to every firearm?

Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act May 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the member just talked about a duck. You do not have to believe me, but when you shoot at a duck, the most you will get is a loud “quack quack”. It is not going to turn into a Stuka and it is not going to bombard you with napalm. We are talking about a duck.

Farmers who want to guard against foxes do not need a machine gun. We are talking about a fox. Could we agree that some firearms are dangerous, that they should not be owned by just anybody and that regulations are needed? Anyone who goes duck hunting with a machine gun capable of bringing down a MiG probably has a problem between the ears, and it is perhaps a good thing that they cannot get that type of weapon.

Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we have talked a lot about the fact that Bill C-51 restricts our rights, and we are told that this bill is meant to combat terrorism. However, Bill C-51 is pointless if there are not enough resources to enforce it.

That is the problem: our police forces are no longer able to combat organized crime and terrorist organizations at the same time. Furthermore, the Conservatives are promising to increase law enforcement budgets in the future, not now. It is as though they are telling ISIL to just wait a year or two, because the RCMP is not quite ready to take them on, since their budget increases are being postponed.

What is the point of such a restrictive bill, when the resources needed to enforce it will not be available until several years from now?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 May 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Jean Marchand told the House that he had information indicating that 4,000 terrorists were threatening the government.

Then, the people of Quebec, the Premier of Quebec, and the Mayor of Montreal were asked what they thought about that. They said that the government needed to respond. However, the 4,000 terrorists was something the Prime Minister made up at the time. He lied to the House.

This is evident because none of the 400 people arrested were prosecuted. The FLQ was completely dismantled. It had less than 30 members. Where are the 4,000 terrorists? They exist only in the active imagination of the Liberal Party representative.