House of Commons photo


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

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is appalling to see the Minister of National Defence in such denial.

The U.S. Senate acknowledged in a unanimous report that the CIA systematically tortured its prisoners. This is not a fabrication or a conspiracy theory; it is from a report that was crystal clear.

Like it or not, it is a fact of history: the Americans bombed Iraq for 12 years. They occupied it militarily, and now we are seeing the result of that. Now we have to go back. Maybe some day the Conservatives will understand that bombs are not the best solution. We are proposing something altogether different.

They say that food aid is good, but that some military assistance is also needed. Instead we should be making sure that people cannot get their hands on weapons or munitions. Perhaps we should be convincing some governments to keep quiet.

We need to make sure that Turkey does not become a refuge for ISIL, that people cannot go and seek medical care or sell their oil in Turkey. That would be helpful.

These are the kinds of measures we should be taking to win the war. This is certainly not what the Conservatives did in Afghanistan.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, atrocities have been perpetrated in this world, and Boko Haram and ISIL are responsible for many of them.

Such barbaric acts can only be condemned. We have seen terrible things. A London taxi driver chose to serve his fellow humans by driving a truck to transport food to hungry people. ISIL punished him for his good deed by slitting his throat. It goes without saying that such things are reprehensible.

However, the members of this group are not the only ones. Saudi Arabia has committed atrocities too, such as sentencing a man to 1,000 lashes. Raif Badawi, whose family has sought asylum in Canada, would also like to be shown some compassion. There was a major problem when Muslim peoples learned that the American CIA had systematically tortured all of its detainees. It goes without saying that reports and information about the torture meted out by the CIA proved a powerful motivator for young Muslims to join the terrorist movement. That is dangerous. That is the worst thing that could have happened.

There is also Congo. Five million people have died there since 1998. That is more that the populations of Kuwait, Afghanistan and Vietnam combined. Nobody is asking us to drop bombs there. No, that place is not interesting. There is no oil there, just Africans, and they are not worth much. However, Boko Haram is in Nigeria. Members of that organization have declared war on the whole world, and they kill anyone who is not with them. No exceptions. Some groups have threatened Canada and Australia, but Boko Haram believes that everyone in the world is an infidel. We are not going to Nigeria though. There are terrorists in Mali and many other places. Libya is a good example, but we are not going there. We pick and choose based on what the Americans want.

However, we are Canadians here. We do not want to be a caricature of George W. Bush. We do not want our Prime Minister to be the clone of George W. Bush. Clearly, we do not agree with them. They had promised—a promise that smacks of George W. Bush—that Canadian troops would not participate in combat. That was promised, sworn up and down. On September 30, the Prime Minister said so in the House. We now know that this is not true and that Canadian troops were on the front lines. They were directly accompanying the troops into combat. However, we have just been told that Canada will make a big change.

For 11 years, the Americans dropped a lot of bombs in Iraq. They sent in an army of 250,000. The result is that we are now forced to go back. We should perhaps realize that the military approach and bombings do not give long-term or reliable results. When the Americans withdrew from Iraq, they told the Iraqi people to be democratic and respectful of rights. Influenced by an Iranian government, they did not really turn to democracy. In light of the Iranian influence in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar created a resistance force to combat the dangerous Syrian regime that was too close to Iran and the government that was sympathetic to Iran. They created the army of the Islamic State. On that day, frankly, they did not ask us for our advice. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

How is it that the Islamic State, which, with about 40,000 men, is not particularly big, was able to get to the gates of Baghdad? It is quite simple. The Iraqi army, with a force of 200,000 men, did not fight. We saw 60,000 Iraqi soldiers be beaten by 800 terrorists. With odds of 1 against 75, the 75 lost. They deserted in droves, and, anyway, those 60,000 men were not 60,000 men because in the very democratic Iraq, officers commanding battalions of 500 men really have only 250. They take the salaries of the 250 phantom soldiers and put the money into their own pockets. In the Iraqi army, officers' ranks are bought and sold. We can understand how, in the face of such corruption, Iraqi soldiers are not very motivated to fight.

There is a second problem. Not only does the Iraqi army have no interest in fighting, but Iraq's Shia population is also quite sympathetic to the Islamic State. People may well ask me what is happening: we cannot have any sympathy for barbarism. But there is barbarism on both sides of the border. People have been murdered and oppressed because they were Sunni. Sunni journalists, Sunni politicians, men and women, have been murdered by the Iraqi government. That is oppression. Christians have been oppressed by the current Iraqi government, a government that is neither democratic, nor very respectful, nor very civilized. This has led to the situation where, when the Islamic State appeared in many towns, the people were sympathetic to their cause. Bombing them is not going to stop them from being sympathetic. Perhaps they need something other than bombs.

When the machinery of government is destroyed, we see the rise of armed gangs and warlords—and, heaven knows, that machinery can so easily be destroyed in places like that, like Libya, Yemen, Iraq or Syria. Clearly, something has to be done about the situation.

Twelve years of American bombings created a new generation of young people who see the western world as a threat, not as a source of assistance, not as an example, but as an enemy who destroys everything, including water systems, power supplies and schools. Obviously they do not think we are very nice. What is more, people watch television. They see the barbaric acts of the Islamic State, but they also see the barbaric acts committed by the CIA, which tortures people. I do not need to say it. Everyone is saying it. Even the Americans themselves recognize it. That was the worst and most foolish thing they did. They created their own enemies. They provided them with free propaganda.

Of course, Canada has other more powerful weapons. Fortunately, the NDP is the historic heir, if you will, of Lester B. Pearson. We want peace and we are going to build it. We will get there not by going to war, but rather by preventing war and preventing terrorists from getting weapons. Some countries are providing them with weapons. It might be a good idea to stop that. Some countries are buying oil produced by the Islamic State in Iraq. Perhaps that needs to stop. That would be practical and useful action. In short, we need to take away their funding and their military resources; no weapons, no war. That is how we would intervene and it does not require bombing civilians.

This is the type of action that the NDP is going to promote. Of course, we are also going to promote food aid for all those in need. We cannot just donate a few tents and say that we are supporting the civilian population. We have to make that a priority. The Red Cross and the Red Crescent need and deserve support.

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my distinguished colleague's presentation and I have a major problem with it. He is asking us to go and wage war on terrorists, barbaric in the extreme, I agree, but who have been created, financed and armed by our current allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. There is a problem here. The government is asking us to go and disarm barbaric individuals who got those arms from our so-called allies. How many times is he going to tell us that joke before we realize that we are not cannon fodder for a bunch of oil dictators?

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the sound of defeat, the sound of another Vietnam war. It is clear those wars are lost. The government lost the Afghanistan war. Now it is another defeat. It is clear.

One of the problems, if we do not attack the first problem, is the corruption of the Iraqi government. We do not attack the co-operation between Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the Islamic State. There is no possibility to win this war with only military attacks.

The government clearly does not understand one important point: that one important part of the Sunni population of Iraq supports the terrorist organization. That is the problem. Why does the population support the terrorist group? That is the problem.

I listened carefully. I am interested in a clear response.

Business of Supply March 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent speech.

We are fortunate with this issue, since the House of Commons unanimously supports this motion. Could the member also talk to us about how it would be nice to have unanimity on other motions? Clearly all of the members in the House can, from time to time, decide to go along with protecting the environment.

This is the kind of motion and unanimity we should have more often, but unfortunately that is not the case.

Respect for Communities Act March 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my learned colleague's remarks. He asked a lot of reasonable questions. However, all of those conditions combined make it impossible for people to obtain these services.

It is the same thing we are always criticizing the government for: having a double standard. Canada Post did away with home mail delivery. Did the Conservatives ask seniors, health care providers and the municipalities whether this was a good idea or not? No. They made the decision for them.

Now, you are imposing conditions on people who want to provide services. Why are you always around when it comes to cutting services, but when it comes to providing them, you are always coming up with bogus conditions?

Why do the Conservatives have such a double standard?

Respect for Communities Act March 13th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the problem with this bill is that it is now harder to set up a supervised injection site than it is to build a pipeline. Want to build a pipeline? Do not bother asking permission from the mayor, fishers or farmers. Just do it.

Want to set up a centre to help people who really need help, because life as a drug addict is not easy? You will have to come up with the sun, the moon and the starlit sky.

Will someone please explain to me why it is so easy for oil companies to do what they want and why insurmountable obstacles are put in the way of people who want to help folks who are suffering? I would really like to know why that is.

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the first part of Bill C-51 provides definitions of terrorist activities. The definitions are so vague they could potentially cause problems. For example, a Canadian journalist interviews a terrorist leader abroad, then runs the interview in Canada: that is a terrorist activity. A group of fishers who think the environment in their region is in jeopardy decide to use their small boat to stop an industrial activity in local waters: that is a terrorist activity. A Canadian public servant deems the clandestine operations of security forces to be undemocratic and he blows the whistle to opposition politicians: that is terrorism. Canadian academics, researchers, travel abroad, discuss global warming and share Canadian information: that is terrorism.

Is that acceptable in a free and democratic society?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his remarks. I am sure that he is acting in good faith, but the problem is that history has proven him wrong.

We are experiencing a new version of October 1970. In October 1970, the government panicked as it scrambled to respond to a terrorist threat, much like the current government is doing now. Parliament voted on a law and the government acted on it. Over 300 people were imprisoned, and it was not until much later that we realized that none of those individuals had any ties to the Front de libération du Québec.

We need only look at the debates I have here in my hand. Jean Marchand said that there were 5,000 FLQ members in Quebec. David Lewis responded that if we wanted to catch them, we had to begin by making sure that our RCMP officers spoke French.

The question is quite simple. Is it not better to have police officers than useless laws that put innocent people in prison?

Anti-terrorism Act, 2015 February 19th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak out against this measure. We unfortunately have a tendency to repeat our mistakes here in Canada. I did some research on the debates held in October 1970 on the War Measures Act. That legislation was also passed too quickly. Its repercussions were not properly studied and, as a result, 300 people were arrested.

There was also the unfortunate tradition whereby the RCMP did it all: it was responsible for intelligence and intervention, as well as being a police force. At the time, the RCMP had denounced Tommy Douglas as a dangerous Communist, and he was not allowed to travel to the U.S. That was also when David Lewis said it might be a good idea for the RCMP to learn to speak French, in order to combat the FLQ. However, that is the kind of debate we cannot have, because time is limited.

We will not be able to weigh the legal merits of our old laws and examine our errors together, errors made by this Parliament, in order to correct them. That is why time allocation is unacceptable. It does not allow the legislative branch to judge its own work, past work and mistakes.