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  • 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

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for her question. Yes, I am from Montreal. No one is perfect. However, I am well aware of what is going on in the regions.

The Liberal government's current plan for the infrastructure privatization bank leads us to believe that the projects have to be rather sizeable in order for the communities and municipalities to have access to it. If it indeed takes projects worth more than $100 million, then 90% or 95% of the communities and municipalities in Quebec will be excluded. We are very concerned about that.

I would be pleased to see that money invested in Montreal, but this is not just about Montreal. If there is privatization and the private entities invest in this bank, there will be user fees and tolls for everyone and that is not what we want.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

With respect to affordable public day care that would provide real help to families, especially families in Toronto, who pay $70 or $80 a day for child care, it is quite ironic that this question comes from a member of a party that, in its red book, promised for three consecutive elections to create a national child care program, which it has never done.

As for election promises, I would also like to remind my colleague that I read the Liberal platform. It was written in black and white that the 2015 election would be the last one under the current voting system. What does the member think now?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, but I think he read only half of our election platform, the one where we talked about expenditures. The other half dealt with revenues, and it was particularly interesting. Yes, we wanted to help small and medium-sized businesses. However, there are some pretty simple ways to increase government revenues.

For example, could we stop giving subsidies to oil companies? Could we be much more effective than the government is at combating tax havens, tax evasion, and tax avoidance? We are losing tens of billions of dollars each year because of tax havens. The government talks tough but is doing absolutely nothing.

We are unable to help post-secondary students, create jobs or improve public services because of tax havens. I might add that we could also raise taxes on big corporations. Since 2002, the corporate tax rate has fallen from 28% to 15%. I think that they too can contribute their share.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, that is a first. Compared to the previous speaker, it seems like I am the calm one in the House. I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with my wonderful colleague from North Island—Powell River. It is an honour.

I would remind the House and those watching us that, again, we are discussing the budget implementation bill under the pressure of closure imposed by the Liberal government, who promised to do politics differently, to respect the institutions, and give parliamentarians their rightful place.

It is amazing to see how the bad habits they once criticized became standard operating procedure for the Liberals, once they won their majority.

Speaking of which, since there is a lot of talk about this these days, maybe the following question could be added to the mydemocracy.ca website: “Are you in favour of giving the Liberal Party a majority, knowing full well that it will not keep its promises?”

The first point that I would like to make with regard to Bill C-29 has to do with the changes related to banks and credit card companies. Quebec is extremely concerned about consumer protection. It is strange. Even though Quebeckers elected 40 Liberal MPs in the last election, no one on the government side has raised this issue.

Bank customers in Quebec are protected by Quebec's Consumer Protection Act. This law does all kinds of good things for people, such as limiting credit card fees. It also protects people when their credit card gets stolen and the thief uses their card to make all sorts of big purchases, such as electronics and other things. I think most people can relate to that situation. Under the Quebec law, the credit card holder is liable only for a maximum of $50.

The fact that these provisions are absent from Bill C-29 is worrisome. People do not know what is going to happen. Will the government allow credit card companies to raise the maximum liability from $50 to $200, $500, or even $1,000?

We could lose this protection, which was hard-won for consumers, and their concern is quite justified.

The host for more than 10 years of La facture, a Radio-Canada program, went to the trouble of writing an article for this morning's edition of La Presse. He told everyone to beware because we run the risk of losing all the protections that we take for granted.

I see some government members opposite nodding their heads. I hope we will be able to fix things and make amendments to preserve those protections.

There is also some uncertainty with respect to annual credit card fees. We are not quite sure what the future holds. We are concerned, and I hope that we will be able to work together to find solutions.

One thing that is bothering the NDP is the whole issue of the Liberal promise to help the middle class. The Liberals droned on about it for 78 days. They said that we would have a government that would finally meet the aspirations and the needs of the middle class. How? By cutting taxes. That is just one way. We prefer to provide services that cut costs for families, such as public, affordable, accessible child care. The Liberals talked about it, but nothing is happening right now.

When we look at the Liberal government's plan to cut taxes for families, we realize that their definition of the middle class benefits the rich. Anyone earning less than $45,000 a year will not receive any tax cuts. Anyone earning less than $23 an hour does not qualify for assistance from the Liberal government. For a single person with no children who earns $21 an hour, the Liberal government's promise is worthless.

We find this unacceptable, given that the median income in Canada is around $33,000 or $34,000. Right away at least half of the population is left out of the Liberal plan. There is still another $10,000 to go before we get to $45,000. The ones benefiting the most are those making $80,000, $100,000 or $120,000 per year. We do not believe that they are part of the middle class. They are not the ones who need help. This is extremely disappointing on the part of the Liberal government. This is another broken promise.

Bill C-29 also deals with employment insurance. We must admit that it includes a more acceptable redefinition of what constitutes suitable employment, and this is a step in the right direction. However, one of the major problems with the employment insurance system in the country right now, and this has been a problem for years, is that fewer and fewer unemployed workers qualify for benefits when they need them.

The employment insurance fund, as its name would suggest, is insurance. All workers put money into the fund so that if one day they unfortunately lose their job, because of a plant closure or if misfortune strikes, they will be able to get what they need in order to transition to another job and pay bills, the rent, the mortgage, and groceries.

In the 1980s, practically everyone who lost their job received EI benefits. Today only 38% of unemployed Canadians receive benefits. Most people who contribute to the kitty do not have access to it when they need it. Bill C-29 does nothing to change the situation, and that really worries us. EI is part of our values and part of our social safety net, which is supposed to ensure that no one is left behind.

No one wants to lose their job, no one wants to see a plant close, and no one wanted Canada's manufacturing sector to be eviscerated, without any industrial policies in place. We need to be able to help the unemployed. We also have to work harder to help seasonal workers who were hit hard by the actions of previous governments. There is nothing on the table right now to help the unemployed or future unemployed Canadians. That is unfortunate, because their numbers keep increasing.

What is noticeably absent from the budget implementation bill is the promise to help small and medium-sized businesses. These are the creators of new jobs, the jobs of tomorrow. These businesses invigorate our communities, whether we live in urban or rural areas. The SMEs of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie are its lifeblood. They create jobs and wealth, which makes the riding an attractive and good place to live.

What did the Liberals tell small and medium-sized businesses? They said that they would be there for them and that they recognized their contribution as job and wealth creators in Canada. Where is the help for SMEs in Bill C-29 and in the Liberal budget?

The Liberals said they would lower their tax rate from 11% to 9%. Where does it say that? There is nothing about that in the bill. This is utterly disappointing. We had hoped that the Liberals meant what they were saying during the election campaign. We had hoped that they understood the message of those who start up small businesses, of those who work for them, and of those who have managed small family businesses for a long time.

There is one very simple way to help small businesses, but it is not in Bill C-29. More and more frequently, corner stores are not letting customers pay with credit cards because the fees are exorbitant. When people use Interac, there is a set fee that is not too high, and merchants do not complain about it much. The percentage charged on credit card payments, on the other hand, is ridiculously high. We kind of expected the Liberal government to do one simple thing to help small businesses: reduce the cost of accepting credit card payments.

The infrastructure bank is a huge scheme to privatize our public services and our infrastructure, and we should all be very worried about it. Why attract private investment with a guaranteed return of 7% when the government can borrow money at 2%?

We are extremely worried at the prospect of major economic drivers, such as our ports and airports, being sold off to private and, in many cases, foreign interests. We do not understand why the government is consulting Credit Suisse, a company that specializes in airport privatization.

That gives us great concern, and I hope we will get some answers from the government. Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of time to debate it, but then again that was the government’s decision.

Points of Order December 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order, and in a moment I will move a motion seeking the unanimous consent of the House.

During question period on November 24, 2016, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard said the following on the topic of his party's fundraising activities: “Mr. Speaker, our colleague knows very well that at events like this, government business is not discussed.” We have since learned that that was not the case.

I ask for unanimous consent to move the following motion: Given that the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard has misled the House, that this House call on the minister to withdraw his remarks and apologize to this House.

Democratic Reform December 6th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, we are not the only ones who found the Liberals' mydemocracy.ca survey to be completely bogus. I applaud the thousands of Canadians who have mocked the survey's questions on social media. One question asks whether people prefer online voting or being chased by a horde of bloodthirsty clowns.

This is about our values. All kidding aside, how can we take a survey seriously when, at the end, it puts participants in these phantasmagoric categories? Where did they find this quiz, in a celebrity gossip magazine?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I would like to raise two things.

First, we know that our economy’s biggest job creators are small and medium-sized businesses, which generally create about 80% of new jobs. This is the case in Montreal, especially in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

During the election campaign, the Liberals promised to help small businesses to give them some breathing room. Unfortunately, in their first budget, there is no hint of this promised tax break for small businesses. I would like to hear my colleague’s comments on that.

Second, I heard my colleague’s concerns about infrastructure. In Montreal it is pretty catastrophic and there is a lot of catching up to do. Personally, I am deeply concerned to hear the government referring to privatization and the new infrastructure bank, which will attract a great deal of private capital. They will guarantee a return to provide for dividends.

Why will we guarantee this bank a return or a profit of 7% when we could borrow at an interest rate of 2%?

Democratic Reform December 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, if I were not laughing, I would be crying. The Minister of Democratic Institutions' new online questionnaire is extremely ridiculous and biased. This tool is so crude that nobody could possibly take it seriously.

The Liberals managed to come up with a questionnaire on electoral reform that does not even mention the voting system. They ignored the issue. When they talk about diversity in Parliament, they try to scare people by playing up imaginary radical and extremist parties.

Will the minister stand up and finally admit that the Liberals are not serious about this and will not change anything?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 5th, 2016

Madam Speaker, last year, the Liberals told us that they were going to do politics differently. They were going to restore citizens’ confidence in their institutions, put the members back at the center of our parliamentary system, fight cynicism, and turn the page to to have a political approach that is healthier, more transparent, more open and more attentive to the people.

Today, we realize that the government is employing to the same tactics we have seen before. Parliamentarians are being muzzled. Members cannot do their work. It is all quite crazy. There are 338 members in the House, and the Liberal government has just limited time for debate at the report stage to one hour.

Is this how they fight cynicism? Is this how they put members back at the heart of our democracy? Is this how they restore confidence in institutions?

What will it be next time, five minutes of debate and that’s it?

Democratic Reform December 1st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, if it looks like, if it smells like, it should be.

What part of “proportional” does the minister not understand? The minister responsible for democratic reform launched an online consultation that included questions like, “Do you like to take risks, or better the devil you know?”

Does this not undermine the colossal consultation work the committee has done over the past six months? Is the government going to listen to the recommendations of the committee and to the hopes—