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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

Democratic Reform November 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, all of us have heard people say that they will not vote because it will not make a difference. They are not completely wrong.

In the last election, nine million votes did not count at all because our old voting system is completely unfair. Across the country, Canadians, civil society, and experts are calling for the introduction of a proportional voting system.

Will the government listen and ensure that every vote counts so that we have a voting system that truly respects the will of the people?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 November 15th, 2016

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

I would like to make three points. How is it that the Liberals, after roundly criticizing guillotines to force bills through, are using the same strategies as the Conservatives? How is it that the new government, without ever mentioning it in the election campaign, wants to privatize our infrastructure on such a massive scale? Lastly, could my colleague from Halifax explain to us why people who earn less than $45,000 a year, which is less than $23 an hour, are being completely ignored by the Liberals, who do not consider them part of the middle class?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 November 15th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, sadly, there is nothing for small businesses in the budget. Also, everyone who makes less than $45,000 in our country is not part of the middle class.

I want to quote an interesting thing about time allocation. It is “not only preventing business and debate in this chamber, but...[it is] hurting the ability of committees to do their work”. Who said that? It was the Liberal member for Malpeque.

Another quote is that time allocation “is undemocratic and a type of abuse, as a rule, of the House of Commons”. Who said that? It was the Liberal member for Winnipeg North.

Why are the Liberals changing their minds now that they are in power?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 November 15th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have listened carefully to my colleague’s speech.

Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind is Jacques Dutronc’s song The Opportunist.

There are those who do contest, who make demands and who protest
There's just one thing I always do: I change my tune

Only a short while ago, the Liberals were getting all worked up and finding it incomprehensible that a guillotine would be imposed and a House majority would be used to limit debate and discussion between parliamentarians. Surprise, surprise! Now that they are in power, the Liberals are back to their old tricks; they are changing their tune and doing exactly what they condemned.

What is my colleague the parliamentary secretary afraid of? Why can we not take the time to discuss the budget implementation bill in depth and find all its flaws, like the privatization of our public services and infrastructure and the forsaking of all those who do not earn $45,000 a year and do not benefit from the Liberals’ tax reduction measures, in contrast to what they said in the election?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 November 15th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to share two quotes with the House.

[Time allocation]...is not only preventing business and debate in this [House], but...hurting the ability of committees to do their work.

Who said that? It was the Liberal member for Malpeque.

[Time allocation] is undemocratic and a type of abuse, as a rule, of the House of Commons....

Who said that? It was the Liberal member for Winnipeg North.

I would like to ask my colleague why Liberals always change their minds once they are in power.

Business of Supply November 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, if my Liberal Party colleague decided it was a good idea to restore public funding of political parties, I would have to applaud him because that would be a great thing. However, that does not excuse the behaviour of the Liberal government cabinet.

The government has just created the Canada infrastructure bank, which quite frankly resembles a privatization fund. The Liberals are going to toss $15 billion in there and ask private investors to participate. In the coming months and years, there will be major business interests in the bank. Because it is so transparent, the government should be able to show that it cannot be corrupted; however, its current actions indicate the exact opposite. Perhaps the Liberals have come to realize that they have more problems than they thought. The Minister of Finance participated in public consultations in Calgary. Yesterday evening, he was supposed to attend a fundraising event. However, that event was suddenly cancelled at the last minute. Maybe the members opposite are beginning to understand.

Business of Supply November 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I was not expecting to be congratulated by a Conservative MP. It threw me off a little at first, but he is quite right.

In my opinion, people who are not friends of the Liberal Party must feel extremely frustrated that they are not at the table when major decisions are being made about the future of their communities.

My colleague spoke about the choices the government has made about prescription drugs, for instance. The Minister of Finance just happens to be attending a fundraising activity in Toronto on November 7 that was organized by pharmaceutical companies. These companies are organizing the event and selling tickets, and in return they get the finance minister. If that is not a perceived conflict of interest, I do not know what is.

Business of Supply November 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with my dear colleague, the member of Parliament for Elmwood—Transcona, a beautiful riding. I want to congratulate him for all the work he is doing on the ethics committee. It is really impressive, especially for someone coming from a family that has nothing to do with federal politics. It looks like he knows quite a bit.

I think everyone remembers the Prime Minister saying with great pride that Canada is back. In fact, what he was actually saying is that the Liberal Party of Canada is back, and with it are the old stories of scandals and friends. They try to hide their natural instincts, but guess what? They are back with cash for access to ministers, even though they are pretending to do otherwise.

What we see in the behaviour of those ministers of cabinet is that two things are certain in life. We are all going to die and a Liberal is a Liberal is a Liberal. It is like a time machine going back to the old days, giving access to big businessmen, to the elites of this country, to Bay Street, again and again.

This shows how disappointing the Liberal cabinet’s behaviour is in light of the expectations it created. The Liberals said they were going to combat cynicism and do politics differently. They said that after the years of darkness, it would be sunny ways. They said they were going to rebuild Canadians’ trust in political institutions as well as integrity in our institutions and in Parliament. However, at the first opportunity, the Liberals flout the laws and principles they took such pride in putting forward. It is extremely disappointing.

Before going on, I have to say I am a great admirer of Georges Brassens. I listen to him as often as I can. During the previous Parliament, the song that came to mind most often was Le temps ne fait rien à l'affaire, or time does not change anything. In the current Parliament, my favourite Georges Brassens song is certainly Les copains d’abord , or friends first, because everything works for the government’s friends thanks to the government’s friends. That is certainly not what Canadians and Quebeckers voted for last year.

Today's motion is interesting because it calls on the Liberals to face up to their own contradictions, to have a look in the mirror and tell us whether promoting something and then hiding behind the existing law is good enough for them. Is that the kind of hope they put into the hearts and minds of people during the last federal election campaign? I do not think so.

The document entitled “Open and Accountable Government” is fairly clear cut, and it is posted on the Prime Minister's website, which is significant. The document lists a number of principles that ministers must follow. That document, which is talked up by the Prime Minister and says that things are going to be done differently, prohibits all “preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.”

How can it be that, according to The Globe and Mail, there have now been about 20 such events where people paid $400, $500, or $1,500 to attend an evening with the justice minister, the heritage minister, or the finance minister? They have some nerve. In fact, they have a whole lot of nerve because they get double the payoff: $1,500 for access to the finance minister just days before the economic update and a few months before the tabling of a budget that will see billions of dollars in infrastructure funding flow to our communities.

Still, they would have us believe that a $1,500 dinner at a house in Halifax, an event organized by the Laurier Club, is not privileged access.

I do not know many people in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie who can write a $1,500 cheque to dine with the Minister of Finance. That kind of thing is not about fighting for the middle class or representing ordinary people. It is old-school politics with old-school elites, real estate developers, big-time business people, and people who are on the boards of institutions and corporations under federal jurisdiction, such as the Halifax Port Authority.

The Minister of Finance put himself in an extremely delicate position that is entirely inconsistent with the Liberals' own rules and principles. What a bad example for the public. Imagine if this is how we talked to our children; tell them not to do this or that because it is against the rules, and then turn around and do it ourselves and say that it is not that bad. That is what the Liberals are doing.

They brag about doing politics differently. They apply new standards. They set high standards. Then, they turn tail and hide, saying that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner has no jurisdiction over the document presented by the Prime Minister. In fact, why are we not legislating this? Why not take this principle and make it law? That way, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner would have jurisdiction over the document. What are the Liberals afraid of? It is rather odd.

The cherry on top is that their own document also says that their attitude and behaviour should be held to a higher standard than what the law requires. By trying to put a square peg in a round hole, they end up chasing their own tails.

Chapter 4.1 of the Prime Minister's document states:

Moreover, they have an obligation to perform their official duties...in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny. This obligation is not fully discharged merely by acting within the law.

Need we say anything more?

What people also need to know is that these events are not open to the public. With respect to the October 13 event in Halifax, a Google search using the words “Halifax”, “Minister of Finance”, and “Liberal Party” does not return any results. It is all very hush-hush. Private invitations are sent out in secret. It is a meeting of friends, hand-picked from the inner circle, who are going to influence public policy. I do not believe that someone is going to pay $500 or $1,500 and not expect to have some influence on the Minister of Canadian Heritage or the Minister of Finance when tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure money is on its way.

Investing in infrastructure is a good thing. However, why do people have preferential access to the Minister of Finance when they have a monetary, financial and economic interest in influencing the Liberal government's decision?

It is extremely disappointing, and we expected better of the Liberal government. I hope that it will support the motion and that it will live up to its promises.

Business of Supply November 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the motion tabled by the Conservative Party simply states that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner should be able to assess the behaviour of ministers in light of the Prime Minister’s Office’s document entitled “Open and Accountable Government”.

So, why is the Liberal Party afraid of including the very principles it claims to embrace in the law?

Business of Supply November 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased with my colleague’s speech, and I would like to ask him a very specific question.

Over the past few days, whenever we in the NDP or members of the Conservative Party questioned the Liberal government about ministers’ behaviour and attitude regarding preferential access to partisan fundraising events, we were told that everything is fine because the law was obeyed. However, in section IV.1 of the document entitled “Open and Accountable Government”, we are told that ministers “have an obligation to perform their official duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny. This obligation is not fully discharged merely by acting within the law.”

I would like to hear my colleague explain how the Liberal Party can say one thing and do the opposite.