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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is liberal.

NDP MP for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 49% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for his speech and also for his attire today.

I want to highlight in particular the contribution of the Ukrainian community in western Canada and also in Montreal. I am fortunate to represent the riding where Saint Sophie Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral and the Ukrainian Caisse Populaire Desjardins are located. Montreal's Ukrainian festival is also held in my riding.

Without going into the details of this future free trade agreement with Ukraine, I would like my colleague to tell us about this openness towards that country and this type of trade agreement with the Republic of Ukraine, and what this can contribute to the Ukrainian community here in Canada.

Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank and congratulate my colleague for his speech.

As we know, Ukraine and Canada have deep ties. Saint Sophie Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, Montreal's Ukrainian Caisse Populaire Desjardins, the Ukrainian park, and the Montreal Ukrainian festival are all in the riding of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

Could my colleague tell us what this type of agreement can mean to the Ukrainian community in Canada, apart from the trade details?

Interests of Quebec December 13th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the fall session is winding down and that is the only good news for the Liberal government, because it has been a tough road.

The Liberals are already embroiled in scandal and have been notably absent from files that are important to Quebeckers.

Do members hear that? Let's listen closely.

That is the sound of silence coming from the 40 Liberal members from Quebec.

Nothing for Bombardier. Nothing for the forestry. Nothing for SMEs. Peanuts for the cheese factories, and we have yet to hear anything about public transit.

What exactly are the Liberal members from Quebec doing? Where are they hiding?

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. This should force the government to reconsider the whole process. I will have other opportunities to talk about this and criticize the Liberal government constructively.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

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

Indeed, the Liberal government is being inconsistent. When the Liberals were in the opposition, they criticized the free trade agreement negotiated by the Conservatives. The agreement has suddenly become progressive now that it has the Liberal stamp on it. They criticized the lack of impact assessments and cost analyses. My colleague is absolutely right when she says that nothing has changed in that regard.

The government is rushing the process unnecessarily without taking into account the unanticipated change in the European Union with Brexit. While 42% of our exports to the European Union go to the United Kingdom, the Liberal government is not taking into consideration the fact that the United Kingdom will likely no longer be part of the European Union once this process has been concluded. This smacks of amateur hour. They are in a rush to be done with this.

I would also like to thank her for her question about pharmaceuticals. In an early 2011 study commissioned by the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association, two eminent Canadian economists, experts in the health field, estimated that, if the provisions go through, they will delay generic drug entry in Canada by three and a half years on average. For those buying the drugs, that delay is likely to cost $2.8 billion per year, according to Jim Keon, president of the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association. That should worry everyone from ordinary citizens to the provinces, which, because of hospitals, will have to absorb a significant portion of rising drug costs. The Liberal government did not account for that or figure out how much it would cost.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I concluded my speech. However, I am prepared to answer my colleague's questions.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank all of my NDP and Green Party colleagues who participated in today's very important discussion on this bill.

This bill is about approving a free trade agreement with the European Union that could have a major impact on thousands of workers, our communities, the provinces, and hospital patients. It was worth taking the time to discuss this.

Unfortunately, the Liberal government seems to want to cut the debate short after spending very little time consulting people. That is the opposite of what happened with the trans-Pacific partnership, which got people up in arms. I get the feeling the Liberals did not want to go through that again. That is too bad because we could have made time for individuals, organizations, members of civil society, and experts to unpack a massive agreement that may have hard-to-predict consequences.

Besides, the Liberal Party members have been completely absent in this debate. It feels as though they want to completely wash their hands of this, like Pontius Pilate, and be done with it as quickly as possible. I remember a song from a few years ago called “What happened to all the real rebels?” Today we could be asking what happened to all the Liberal members. You could say the Liberals are missing in action. It is too bad, because they keep saying that they are proud of this free trade agreement, and yet we have hardly heard anything about it today from the governing party.

It is important, because the European Union is a natural trading partner for Canada. Our countries are western democracies governed by the rule of law with a minimum of protections for workers, some freedom of association, as well as environmental standards. The European Union is definitely a natural trading partner for us. If we want to export our products, goods, and services to a more diverse range of markets, Europe seems to be just the place for us to do business.

However, just because something seems promising does not mean that it is. When we examine the details, we see that there are major pitfalls. The main one I would like to talk about is the dispute resolution mechanism. We have experience with that in North America as a result of chapter 11 of the North-American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, negotiated with our partners the United States and Mexico.

NAFTA's infamous chapter 11 allows companies to sue different levels of government over decisions that could diminish their current or forecast corporate profits. A similar dispute resolution mechanism is in the free trade agreement that the current Liberal government is trying to sell us.

First, it threatens our democracy and our sovereignty because it gives multinationals the right to sue in certain tribunals over the decisions of our elected representatives. That is not fantasy, it is reality. The NAFTA experience was a rather painful one for Canada because 70% of corporations' lawsuits under NAFTA against federal, provincial, regional, or local governments were lost by Canada.

In 2013, Lone Pine Resources sued Canada for $250 million after the Quebec government stopped oil and gas exploration projects in the St. Lawrence River. We have a duly elected government that wants to take steps to protect the environment and ecosystems, as well as the jewel that is the St. Lawrence, and a company that complains and sues because the government's actions will deprive it of future profits. This case could cost us $250 million and it is just one example of many.

As long as there is this sort of charter of corporate rights that flies in the face of people's democratic rights, the NDP will stand up and oppose it, and we are not the only ones.

Members will recall that the Walloon parliament recently took a stand against the agreement for the exact same reason. Let us remember that the Walloon parliament did not accept the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement as it stands. It agreed to sign on the condition that the dispute resolution mechanism is removed or drastically changed. It is still opposed to that mechanism. We are far from an agreement because the 28 national parliaments of the European Union still have to go through the ratification process. We therefore cannot understand why the government is in such a rush. This process is going to take months if not years to complete.

The price of drugs is another concern for us because it affects people's lives and their health. This free trade agreement will change the intellectual property rules regarding drugs, which will drive up the cost.

Some organizations are saying that the cost of drugs may even go up by $2.8 billion a year, which is an average of $80 per Canadian per year. However, that average includes those who are not sick and who are lucky enough not to have to pay for drugs. Under the Liberals' free trade agreement, drugs could cost an average of $80 more per person and even more for those who are sick.

I think that these reasons are sufficient for us to oppose this harmful free trade agreement.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague and congratulate him on his extremely clear and detailed speech on the many dangers and pitfalls of this free trade agreement with the European Union. Actually, it is a proposed agreement, since it is far from a done deal.

I wonder if the member could explain how it is that an agreement negotiated by the Conservatives, for which the Liberals asked for studies on the impacts and the costs of various aspects, magically and suddenly became a progressive agreement because it is now endorsed by the Liberal Party.

What does that say about this new government's true beliefs?

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, very quickly, I want to thank and congratulate my colleague on his speech.

Does my colleague share our concerns regarding the possibility of higher drug costs for patients in Canada?

Democratic Reform December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's online survey might as well say the following: Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go, eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

It will not change anything. How boring. it is ridiculous.

Why did they not include the questions suggested by the experts from the Library of Parliament? They would get real answers. Perhaps the Liberals want to gamble with our democracy at the roulette table; cynics might say they want to play Russian roulette.