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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

The Budget December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on another subject, the Conservatives' job credit will cost taxpayers $550 million, but it will create just 800 jobs. The government implemented it without studying the proposal at all. The minister relied exclusively on a Canadian Federation of Independent Business study. The problem is that the study the government based its proposal on had nothing to do with employment; it was about retirement benefits.

How can the minister justify throwing away half a billion dollars without having done any analysis at all?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, before studying Bill C-44, I took a look at the debates of October 1970 out of curiosity.

At that time, Tommy Douglas opposed the War Measures Act, which was invoked in response to the information circulated by Minister Marchand that the FLQ had 3,000 members who were ready to overthrow the democratic Government of Quebec. History has shown us that a threat was invented, promoted and exaggerated to curtail the democratic rights of a people.

I have a bad feeling that we are about to do exactly the same thing. Why do I feel that a terrorist movement is being invented and promoted? We are turning a junkie into a terrorist connected to al Qaeda. We are transforming a poor mentally ill person into a religious fanatic, even though he was not even able to earn a living.

Are we not destroying our rights because of a non-existent threat?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we often discover that there are things we would really like to talk about, but the problem is that time allocation does not allow us to do so.

The best example is that the government took $500 million that could have gone to the unemployed. I am sure that during the holidays, the unemployed would have liked to share $500 million. It is the holiday season. There are presents to buy and special groceries to get. Now, apparently, we cannot talk about it.

One important thing that is not in this legislation is a rationale for taking $500 million and giving a credit to businesses. The problem is that the Conservatives are referring to a document prepared by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. That document does not exist. The federation itself said that the minister is referring to a document that it never wrote.

Can my colleague explain to me how it is that the government is taking $500 million away from the unemployed based on a non-existent document?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her remarks and particularly for the itemization of the subsidies given to municipalities.

I also took particular note of the fact that the Pembroke Street Bridge will be repaired as a result of federal funding. I have a simple question: will there be a toll on that bridge?

The Champlain Bridge in Quebec is obviously crumbling, not because of gravity but because of negligence, and there will be a toll on the new bridge. I hope that the people who use the Pembroke Street Bridge will not have to deal with these same challenges.

The member mentioned that the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario thinks that the gasoline subsidies program, the return of the gas tax, is extraordinary. However, the member forgot to mention that the president said that the funding is insufficient. There is not enough money to renew municipal infrastructure. The funding that is being granted is not even enough to cover the cost of repairing existing infrastructure.

Will the member tell us where, in this budget, we can find a solution to the problem of municipal infrastructure? Everyone is saying that the budget does not provide a solution to this problem.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the problem with omnibus bills is that they contain 20 to 30 statutes. If we could discuss each one, we could support or reject each one. In the case of an omnibus bill, even if there are aspects that we find worthwhile, we are forced to reject them because there are other aspects that we simply cannot support. That is the problem with omnibus bills. They get pushed through far too quickly.

To come back to the bill before us, I would like to see more bills that are better focused. I must say that when I go door to door and I walk with people, it is surprising to me how many people have dogs and cats. Some people even have snakes and lizards as pets. Companion animals are important. We will listen to the criticisms and we will respond to them.

The problem is not that we are spending too much time on this bill. The problem is that we do not spend a reasonable amount of time on the omnibus bills. In fact, far too often what happens in the House is that the government imposes closure. That means we have to vote in a hurry on 30 or so statutes that are poorly cobbled together in a single bill.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am a little surprised by the member's remarks because self-induced intoxication is not a defence. If a person gets himself intoxicated and kills someone, that is premeditated murder punishable by life in prison. The minimum sentence is 25 years, which means he is condemned to life and will spend 25 years in jail.

I do not know that particular case, but self-induced intoxication is not an acceptable defence. The Supreme Court stated as much in the case of a man who got himself intoxicated and raped an 88-year-old woman. Just imagine. In his defence, the individual said that he drank so much he became mentally ill. The insanity plea was rejected. People who deliberately get themselves intoxicated will be found fully responsible for actions they commit while intoxicated. That makes sense.

I do not know the case, and I would be happy to talk about it with the member, but I do know that self-induced intoxication is not an acceptable defence.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) November 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the idea behind Bill C-35—protecting service and law enforcement animals—is a good one.

The NDP is in favour of studying the bill because law enforcement animals are often injured by criminals who could have injured a police officer. Quite often, a police dog is stabbed or shot instead of the police officer. If the criminal had done the same thing to an officer, he would be accused of attempted murder of a police officer. However, since the individual shot at a law enforcement animal, the line of thinking seems to be that he was just shooting at an animal, which is not the same thing. That is why we need more specific protection for these animals.

Service animals are also becoming more common in society. I am not just talking about guide dogs for the blind. For instance, therapy animals give autistic children contact with the real world. Clearly, these animals are not just stray dogs. They may become the eyes of a blind person or the opportunity for an autistic child to communicate and connect with society as a whole. For these reasons, these animals need very specific protections.

Hurting any animal for fun, deliberately and unnecessarily, is terrible, cruel and mean. We should not tolerate that type of behaviour in our society. However, we need to recognize that the harm caused to our society in general when a service or law enforcement animal is injured is a more significant crime.

Personally, I like service dogs. I am always tempted to pet guide dogs whenever I see them. I know you must never do so, but I am always tempted. I almost always have some chocolate in my pockets. Unfortunately, the member for Terrebonne—Blainville takes them from me, which is good for me and works for her. However, I could easily see myself giving a chocolate to a police dog or horse. The police officer might not be okay with that, but I would really like to do that. I adore animals and would never hurt them.

It is important to discuss this bill in committee with experts and with people in these situations, so they can tell us when it is really important to give these animals special protection in the Criminal Code. We need to have this discussion, which is especially important now because these animals are being used more and more. Unfortunately, some terrorist attacks have been committed using explosives. Sniffer dogs are one of the primary resources used to protect the public from these attacks with explosives.

These animals can also help with certain social phenomena, such as children with autism. We want to reintegrate these children into society, and service dogs are being used more and more to help with this. They are also being called upon more and more to help seniors. There will be many such animals, and they will become more and more helpful. Depriving someone who needs the assistance of a service animal is appalling. That is a serious crime. Attacking someone's animal is the same as attacking the person, since the animal is like an extension of the person, helping them with their senses or their mobility.

Clearly, then, yes, it is important to protect these animals, but as usual, the NDP has a few concerns regarding the minimum penalties. This will be discussed in committee.

I have the sinking feeling that the government is not listening to the Supreme Court when it renders decisions or to the great legal minds when they say that minimum sentences do not work. We should let the judges do their jobs and not try to give them so little discretion that they feel uncomfortable.

All of the courts, including the Supreme Court, have rendered decisions before. I am thinking, for example, of the minimum sentence for possessing a prohibited weapon. Let us look at one of the cases on which a judge ruled. An individual went to visit friends and they were a bit drunk. They were having fun. One of them pulled out an illegal revolver and began playing around with it. Another friend filmed the whole thing on his telephone. The person who was holding the weapon committed a criminal offence. He was charged and faced five years in prison because that is the minimum sentence.

The judge said that it was clear that this person was not particularly bright, and everyone can agree that what he did was not a good idea. However, putting an individual in prison for five years because he played around with an illegal revolver at a friend's home does not make sense.

The judge said that he was not going to take into account the Criminal Code provisions dealing with possession of a prohibited firearm. I am sorry, but he was right. Imagine putting someone in prison for doing something stupid for 15 seconds. That person did not threaten anyone with a firearm and did not commit armed robbery. He simply held a firearm when he was a bit drunk at a party and was filmed doing so.

One of my colleagues from British Columbia was saying that a minimum sentence should be imposed for kidnapping a minor. We want to protect children and doing so is a good thing. However, he proposed a rather harsh prison sentence, and that could cause problems.

A young man who is 18 years old and therefore considered an adult has a 16-year-old girlfriend and they break up. He is not happy. He wants to talk to her, so he takes her by the arm and drags her to his car. That becomes kidnapping because it involves an act of violence. He dragged her to the car by force. Clearly, this young man has problems and needs to change his behaviour. He completely deserves to get a strict talking to by a judge.

Still, do insensitivity and boorish conduct merit 15 years in prison? If a young man, just 18 years old, snaps and does something stupid like this, should he be sent to jail for 15 years? That does not make sense. The punishment has to fit the crime.

That is why we are against minimum sentences. We have to let judges judge. They are the ones who hear all of the information about the case and every possible defence.

If a young man kidnaps his girlfriend because he wants to force her to listen to him, not a lot can be said in his defence. However, he might say that he is in university and will do volunteer work. He might ask for a lesser sentence so that his whole life does not end up going down the drain because of that one time he did the stupidest thing imaginable. That kind of behaviour does not deserve the social stigma associated with a disproportionate prison sentence.

We have every reason to send this bill to committee, where members can listen to what the expert witnesses have to say. One of these days, the government will have to listen to the message judges have been sending them about how displeased they are with minimum sentences. The government will have to listen to that message, pay attention and act accordingly.

Auditor General's Report November 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today, the Auditor General of Canada submitted his latest report, and we all got a good look at the government's performance in several areas. The report is damning.

We already knew that the Minister of Veterans Affairs held back millions of dollars from his department and sent that money back to the treasury, but now we know that wait times at OSI clinics can be as long as four months.

We also learned that the nutrition north Canada program has not reduced the cost of food for northern residents and is not properly targeting communities in need.

In addition, Library and Archives Canada spent $15 million on a digital archiving strategy that never saw the light of day, and 98,000 boxes of archival records have not yet been processed.

Page after page and example after example, one thing is clear: the Conservatives are bad managers. Canadians deserve better.

Agricultural Growth Act November 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it was kind of the member to make this speech. It was particularly interesting because he himself is a farmer.

When I was born, the world population was 3 billion. It is now around 7 billion, and when I die—hopefully not tomorrow morning—it will probably be around 10 billion. Unfortunately, it will not be easy to feed all these people. We have already depleted some stocks. We are seeing desertification. Unfortunately, it seems as though the legislation proposed by the government prioritizes giving the big companies control over the manufacturing and distribution of food, instead of ensuring that farmers can earn an income.

Does the member not think it would be reasonable to split this omnibus bill into a series of bills that could be voted on individually? We could then see that farmers want nothing to do with some aspects of his bill. We should allow these farmers to block some aspects of this omnibus bill that are very harmful.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my colleague worked for a long time in labour relations, and he saw some very unfortunate working conditions.

Could he tell us about the danger of always cracking down on an action rather than preventing it? In labour relations, just as in criminal law, the problem is the same: punishing what needs to be punished does not prevent someone from being victimized. We punish because there is a victim. However, what is important is to ensure that people are not victimized in the first place.

That can be achieved primarily through prevention, and my colleague can talk about that. If there is no criminal, there is no crime. A criminal who goes to jail goes to the school of crime.

Could my colleague speak to that?