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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 Elections Act February 7th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I would like to extend my congratulations to my colleague, the minister, on her pregnancy. I wish her much happiness in this wonderful adventure.

I was hoping to see the changes promised by the Liberal Party on electoral reform and the voting system, especially since the experts and the Canadians polled were in favour of a proportional voting system. I have already spoken about this.

I understand Mr. Kingsley's reticence. However, as progressive New Democrats we are concerned about the rich having privileged access to decision-makers and ministers.

Would lowering the political contribution limit not have been the best change to make? We all agree that a middle-class Canadian cannot donate $1,550 a year to a political party. That does not happen in real life. We could have restored public financing for political parties, which would have improved our democracy and reduced the influence of money on the quality of our democratic life.

Marijuana February 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, that means the authorities will keep saddling people with criminal records.

The media are reporting that, in the run-up to marijuana legalization, U.S. authorities are concerned about slowdowns at the border. With thousands of people still burdened by criminal records for simple marijuana possession, the government is offering no guarantees that there will not be problems at the border after legalization, even if people are pardoned.

Can the government reassure those thousands of people that everything will be fine when they try to cross the border in the future?

Business of Supply February 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Montcalm for his comment. I would like to remind members that, when it comes to conflicts of interest, the Minister of Finance was also caught red-handed because he forgot to disclose that he owns a villa in France. That is not something that would happen to most people. The finance minister is also under investigation for a potential conflict of interest surrounding Bill C-27, which is a direct attack on defined benefit pension plans. Let us not forget that the finance minister's own company manages pension plans. I look forward to seeing the end of this investigation into this other Liberal scandal.

Business of Supply February 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I think that having fines for illegal actions is common sense. Furthermore, it would be appropriate to reimburse taxpayers who were cheated because of the Prime Minister's poor judgment and the decision he made. In fact, this dovetails nicely with what I said before. It would prevent this type of totally inappropriate and arrogant incident from happening again.

Business of Supply February 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I understand the point he is making given the circumstances. A bad example has been set by the highest official in the House. The Prime Minister himself broke the law and washed his hands of it. He does not want to change the law to give it more teeth and the commissioner more powers. Furthermore, he is showing contempt for taxpayers by refusing to do his part even though he could do so.

The NDP is concerned that the Prime Minister broke the law. We would also like to see more substantial legislative changes to prevent this from happening in the future, whether it involves ministers, the prime minister, or any member of the House, in order to restore confidence in our institutions.

Business of Supply February 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question, even though he is trying to derail the debate and the discussion. When a committee comprised of mostly Liberal and Conservative members comes to a decision and gangs up on the NDP to make it look bad, most people come to realize that it is nothing more than political posturing and that it has nothing to do with the law having been broken. No independent investigation has been conducted in this matter. I can assure my colleague right now that I am not at all concerned.

However, I would like to know if he wants to strengthen the Conflict of Interest Act in order to avoid his Prime Minister landing in hot water, as he has been these last few months. Does he agree that the commissioner should have the power to impose real fines and other sanctions and that the public should be able to lodge complaints directly with him? Does he agree that the post-employment rules should be tightened, that the threshold for reporting donations should be reduced, and that the definition of public office holder should be extended to include the appointment of other individuals? These are practical solutions that the NDP is proposing in order to restore Canadians’ confidence.

Business of Supply February 6th, 2018

Sure, Mr. Speaker, maybe they are Facebook friends. Maybe what we lack is a definition.

This speaks volumes about the arrogance of the Liberals and the Prime Minister. Once again, he gives the impression that he thinks he is above the law, that this is of no concern to him, and that it is normal, in his universe, to accept such gifts and invitations. He talks a lot about the middle class, but he has never been part of it. He has no idea what the middle class is.

Most of our constituents would not think it is normal for a billionaire to offer them a free trip to his private island. That may be part of the everyday lives of the rich and famous, but unfortunately for the Prime Minister, it ended up being more of a Gilligan's Island for him.

When journalists and opposition parties started asking questions, we really did not know what the Prime Minister's agenda was. He did not explain where he had been or why right away. The Liberals tried to bury and cover up this whole affair, knowing very well that it would not go over well with Canadians.

When the government was forced to admit that the Prime Minister had received a gift in the form of the trip in question, the excuse was that it was a family vacation and that the Prime Minister had the right to take family vacations like anyone else. That makes sense. Most ministers and members of the House also vacation with their children and spouse. That is fine.

However, an interesting little detail was left out. In fact, this family trip was spent in the company of an MP from the Liberal Party of Canada and the president of the Liberal Party of Canada. I have to say that, as much as I like my colleagues, I am not going to bring the hon. member for Essex or the president of the NDP with me on my family vacations. That is family time.

We then learned that he had accepted to travel on his billionaire friend's private helicopter. Guess what? That is against the rules. Ministers and prime ministers are not allowed to do that especially when there are other, more conventional means of getting to the island.

The funny thing is that, at a certain point, the contention was that the only way to get to the island was by private helicopter, but a technician accompanying the Prime Minister travelled aboard a regular airplane. They could not get their story straight there, either.

It is a rare occurrence in family vacations that the host has business and government relations with the state his guest represents.

In light of all the secrecy, half-truths and all-out illegal acts, the Ethics Commissioner conducted an investigation and, for the first time in the history of Canada, a sitting Prime Minister was found guilty of contravening the Conflict of Interest Act, not only once, but four times. Sections 5, 11, 12 and 21 of the Conflict of Interest Act were violated. This is of great concern.

The Prime Minister also seems to think that apologizing, saying sorry and promising not to do it again should be the end of it. The fact is that people see a lack of judgment on the Prime Minister’s part, a disregard for his promise to do politics differently and not to place himself in conflicts of interest.

I agree that the Prime Minister should reimburse Canadian taxpayers for what he owes them. We in the NDP want to take it one step further because, without changes to the law, this type of behaviour could repeat itself. There must be more serious consequences than the small slap on the wrist we saw. We in the NDP believe that, when an investigation reveals that any section of the act has been violated, the commissioner should have the authority to impose financial penalties. The penalty could be a fine, dismissal or suspension.

We should start by taking the problem seriously. Legislative changes should be proposed to ensure that the consequences of such contraventions of the Conflict of Interest Act consist of more than a minor moral or public sanction. We should reinforce the commissioner’s investigative powers and allow him or her to impose fines and financial or economic sanctions. The Prime Minister would have deserved no less in the case at hand.

Business of Supply February 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech, I just want to say that I will be sharing my time with the wonderful member of Parliament for Essex. I want to thank her for her hard work on fair trade and workers' rights.

It is not often that we have the opportunity to say it, and I am very happy to do so.

Today I am taking the floor to talk about the Conservative Party's motion regarding the actions of the Prime Minister in a scandal we have all heard about and that occurred before the Holidays, when the Ethics Commissioner tabled her final report. I will get back to that.

As my colleague was saying, this is part of a somewhat larger picture, that is, the Prime Minister’s judgment and the confidence he inspires in Canadians. A little more than two years ago, the Liberal party made a big deal about renewing confidence in the country’s institutions and leaders. It announced that it would do politics differently, that it would work for real people and for the middle class, and that it would not work for the elite. The decisions that the Liberals have taken since then, however, do not track with their nice words and pretty speeches. More often than not, the government's speeches and actions could not be further apart.

Instead of renewing confidence in our institutions, the Liberals have broken promise after promise, not only in matters of ethics, but also concerning other subjects of concern to most Canadians and Quebeckers. I could go on and on about their broken promise on electoral reform.

The Prime Minister told us, hand on heart, that he would institute electoral reform no matter how difficult the job. Then, he claimed that there was no consensus, while all of the evidence pointed to the contrary. That does not make it easy for Canadians to believe politicians. It only increases their cynicism toward our democratic institutions.

The same goes for the broken promise concerning tax loopholes. A CEO earns a lot of money every year and, in addition, he can take advantage of loopholes to avoid paying income tax, while ordinary employees have no choice but to pay. We lose $800 million a year because of a loophole related to stock options. It was undeniably part of the Liberal Party's electoral platform. People believed it. They wanted to think that the Liberal government would do something about it, but no, the Liberals broke their promise, and CEOs will be allowed to continue not paying the taxes they owe.

Being the new environment critic, I have to say that, as progressives and environmentalists, New Democrats were deeply disappointed. We were told that the government would take environmental issues seriously, that the dark days of the Harper era were behind us, that Canada would finally play a leading role on the world stage. However, this government's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets are exactly the same as its predecessor's. Nothing has changed. The targets are the same and the plan is the same. Everyone watching the government knows we will not even reach those low targets with the measures currently in place. Environmental groups are not the only ones saying it. The OECD has called Canada out for not doing enough. It said we are going to miss our targets and we are not doing our fair share. That is extremely worrisome.

The Liberals also told us they would do away with oil company subsidies. These companies do not need government money; they make enough of their own. The people of Quebec and Canada have been giving oil companies $1.6 billion a year. Just like with the previous government, absolutely nothing has changed and this is another broken promise.

Now let us turn to the Prime Minister's trip to the island owned by his billionaire friend, the Aga Khan. I say “friend” because I was tickled by the part in the commissioner's report that said it was a little hard to call someone a person has not seen in 30 years a friend. That is a pretty accommodating definition of the word “friend”.

Business of Supply February 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I also want to thank the Conservatives for moving this motion.

It may not be the motion that we, in the NDP, would have moved as a priority, but it is true that this says a lot about and is symptomatic of the Liberals' attitudes, and especially the attitude of the Prime Minister.

They seem to think that they are above the law, above everyone else, and they are part of an elite that can do whatever they want.

I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on something very important. There is a lot of information here, but this situation is unprecedented. A sitting prime minister has never been found guilty of violating the act by an ethics commissioner. That is not insignificant. The Prime Minister is the only one in the history of this country to violate the Conflict of Interest Act while in office.

According to my colleague, what does the Prime Minister's attitude say about him?

The Environment February 6th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, there are some issues, such as human rights, that must not be partisan. We also have a shared responsibility when it comes to climate change. When the Conservatives were in power, they pretended that climate change was not real. Today, the government acknowledges that it does exist, but it has sadly decided to do what looks good instead of supporting real action.

According to IPCC scientists, even though time is running out, it is still possible to prevent global warming of more than two degrees Celsius, which would have irreparable and dramatic consequences. Canadians have also been clear that fighting climate change is an urgent issue and we must do better.

I held consultations and received more than 100 proposals for fighting global warming. These are solutions that can be implemented immediately, both at the local and national level, in order to have an impact around the world. As the new NDP environment critic, people can rest assured that I and my entire team will work to ensure that these ideas are heard and, more importantly, that they are implemented.