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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

Business of Supply June 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. I also thank her for signing the letter to the current Prime Minister. I obviously congratulate the Green Party for the efforts it has been making these past few years in the fight for world peace.

First, the Liberal government’s response was to hide behind the fissile material cut-off treaty. Working on adopting this treaty is fine. However, the negotiations on banning the production, possession and use of nuclear weapons are not a substitute for the efforts needed to achieve nuclear disarmament.

It also seems as though the Liberal government is hiding behind Canada’s membership in NATO, and right now it is giving in to pressure from the United States, which told its NATO allies to oppose the negotiations.

Canada has no reason to follow President Trump on this issue. Canada’s membership in NATO does not mean that it must vote only with the nuclear states.

Canada should learn from the Netherlands. They also belong to NATO, but they are taking part in the negotiations.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2017

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

What is the NDP's plan to get Russia and North Korea to get rid of their nuclear weapons? It is simple. Canada needs to get involved in the talks, the negotiations, and the drafting of a new international nuclear disarmament convention. We are not going to come up with a solution by staying in our corner doing nothing. The solution involves multilateralism and getting engaged in the process instead of isolating ourselves like we are now. For the Liberal Party the solution entails respecting its vote on a motion in 2010 in this Parliament and respecting its own party and its supporters.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, I would like to thank my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie for raising the issue of nuclear disarmament in the House. Though the topic may not make the front pages, it is essential given its seriousness and potential consequences.

On August 6, 1945, and on August 8, 1945, humanity realized that it was capable of destroying itself with its own creations, with the weapons that it was able to manufacture. In my opinion, that was a turning point in the history of warfare because, until then, we were able to exterminate, to massacre, to make war, but not to the point of destroying all of humanity. Unfortunately, since 1945, we have had that collective ability, and things have not improved since.

There is no government in the world whose greatest responsibility is not to the safety of its citizens. They carry out this responsibility in many ways, through military and police forces, so we can live in the safety of our communities, with the least amount of violence possible, and where peoples' physical safety is not threatened.

However, if that is all we do and if international tensions mount to the point of all-out nuclear war, domestic security will be of little importance; we will have forgotten one part of the equation, international relations, the ability of states to make war and the types of weapons that can exist or be used.

At the risk of sounding old, I admit that I was born in 1973. My childhood and early teen years were spent in an era that no longer exists and that younger people can only imagine, the Cold War. There was the eastern bloc, a wall and the U.S.S.R., that was always looking for babies to eat and was threatening the world order.

I come from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, where there was a military base with hundreds, even thousands of soldiers, which was quite impressive. There was also an arms factory that made armoured vehicles near the town, making it a potential target. The military base had sirens that could sound the alarm in the event of an attack. I still remember, as a child, being terrorized by the sound of those sirens, which could be set off during exercises in the evening and even at night. The threat was more tangible at the time; watching the news, we could begin to make sense of the international context in which we were living.

Then came the collapse of the Soviet bloc, something no one saw coming. We believe that we have since enjoyed greater international security, but I believe it was a false sense of security. The dangers of nuclear proliferation are real. We would not want more countries to have this terrible weapon that can wipe out hundreds of thousands of people, even entire regions, not to mention the known medium- and long-term effects of radioactivity.

We also do not want to go back to the time of the balance of terror, as it was called. There is a theory in political science that any power that has enough weapons to completely destroy another several times over would never dare to launch an attack, fearing mutually assured destruction. To date, that theory has proven to be true. The problem is that, if it should one day cease to hold, there will be no more political scientists left to figure out what went wrong.

I have always found the term “balance of terror” to be problematic because it implies that our lives and our societies are hanging by a thread and that, on the day the thread breaks, there goes all hope of any future political theory.

On a bit of a lighter note, I remember that, in the 1980s, peace activists had a bumper sticker that said, “One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day”. It does not take many bombs to ruin a day.

I think it is important that we fully participate in the worldwide effort to come up with an international convention that focuses specifically on nuclear disarmament. That is everyone's responsibility, especially Canada's, because we used to be a leader in that regard. I think that the current Prime Minister could learn from some of the prime ministers of the past, one of whom he must know quite well, to find the inspiration needed to make the right decisions about Canada's role in these talks.

After spending decades playing a leadership role in nuclear disarmament, the fight against nuclear proliferation, and the fight against other types weapons, such as landmines, Canada should be ashamed of coming off as the lapdog of the American government and the Trump administration.

Negotiations are taking place at the United Nations for a new nuclear disarmament treaty and Canada is not at the table. Canada is boycotting the talks. That is absolutely incomprehensible and I would like to hear my Liberal colleagues explain to us the strategy behind not taking part in such important discussions involving dozens of countries. Not only are we not taking part in the discussions, but we also voted last year against a United Nations resolution on nuclear disarmament. That is a complete contradiction of Canada’s traditional position—one it should keep, in my opinion.

There is neither precedent nor explanation for such a position. My Liberal colleague spoke of context earlier. The context is precisely that there are 15,000 nuclear warheads in the world, that nine countries have nuclear weapons, officially or otherwise, and that the current U.S. President wants to renew, modernize and reinvest in America's nuclear arsenal. That could launch a new arms race with other countries. To make matters worse, North Korea has officially lost control and is threatening its entire region, Asia. It has, or is trying to obtain, nuclear weapons and the ability to launch them over fairly long distances.

The urgency of the current context should compel us to get through these talks and negotiations as fast as possible and to work toward a plan to ban nuclear weapons. It has been a year since the NDP and my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie asked the government to take part in these discussions. I think that today is an important day to tell all Canadians what the Liberal government’s position really is and to demonstrate its inaction, which is isolating us from the majority of countries around the world.

It does not make sense given our goal of having a safe and secure planet free from nuclear weapons. Moreover, from a policy standpoint, the Liberal government is looking to get a seat on the United Nations Security Council. We agree, but choosing to sulk in a corner instead of taking part and being content to simply follow the new American administration is not the way to get us the votes we need to obtain that seat, which we sadly lost in the past.

I would like to read an excerpt of a letter that was recently sent to the Prime Minister of the Liberal government. It is in English, so I will quickly read a few passages.

REMEMBERING HUMANITY

In their famous 1955 manifesto, Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell called on us to “remember our humanity and forget the rest”, so in that humanitarian spirit, we call on your government to...

Respect and support multilateral efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons by ending Canada's boycott of the current UN General Assembly negotiations of a treaty to ban all nuclear weapons and by joining the next session of talks....

That letter was signed by no fewer than 100 recipients of the Order of Canada, who feature among the most illustrious of our fellow Canadians. These people, who have received awards from the federal government, are now making a formal appeal to the government.

I hope that the government will heed the call and change its position, that it will contribute in a positive way to meeting one of the greatest challenges facing humanity.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to my colleague for his sensible, thoughtful, and heartfelt speech.

The Liberal government is obviously trying to hide behind the fissile material treaty, which may reduce nuclear weapons proliferation or make it harder to acquire nuclear weapons, but that treaty should not prevent the federal government from participating in talks about nuclear disarmament. The two are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they go hand in hand. The government is actually contradicting itself. The left hand does not know what the right is doing.

This bears all the hallmarks of the Liberal hypocrisy we have seen on a number of issues so far. They say all the right things, but they never do a thing.

Cannabis Act June 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

We have different opinions on this issue. Legalizing marijuana is something that we think is feasible. Some countries in Europe and some American states have already done it. Unfortunately, the Liberal government is doing a lot of improvising.

The current government seems to believe that, once this soft drug is legalized, the black market and organized crime will magically disappear. The Liberals often hold alcohol up as an example of this, but that situation took decades to resolve. A counter example is cigarettes, since there is still a black market for them.

I would like my colleague to talk about the strength of the drugs that would be legally sold to the public compared to that of the drugs sold on the black market. Price will also play a huge role in what will be accessible to our young people.

Cannabis Act June 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

If we try to get at the government's underlying logic, we find that everything about this proposal is haphazard, badly managed, and barely planned. The Liberal government's bill has nothing to offer in terms of prevention programs for youth.

People are wondering if marijuana production and sales will end up in the hands of Liberal Party cronies. People want to know why everything is being downloaded onto the provinces, and they are wondering why the psychiatrists' association and other groups have concerns about the legal age to buy marijuana.

Here is the best part. While the Liberals were taking their sweet time putting this bill together, thousands of young people who thought marijuana was already legal got caught and ended up with criminal records.

Will the Liberals admit that they have taken people for a ride?

Cannabis Act June 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it could be a monumental shift. Right now it is a monumental mess.

If you are going to do something, you should at least do it right, as they did in Europe and in certain U.S. states. The Liberal hypocrisy has meant saddling our youth with criminal records for the past year and half, when the Liberals led them to believe that it was already legal.

The Liberal hypocrisy means not consulting the provinces and not listening to the psychiatric association, which is concerned about the legal age for purchasing the drug. Now the Liberals have imposed a gag order, preventing us from having a reasonable debate on this issue. If you are going to do something, then at least do it right.

Paris Agreement June 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are saying all the right things about climate change, but, unfortunately, they are not doing the right things.

Putting a price on carbon is one thing, and the NDP agrees with that and thinks it is necessary. Still, we have to get serious. All of the experts agree that, in the proposal before us now, the price is so ridiculously low that it will not make a difference and will not enable us to meet the Paris agreement objectives that we set with the international community.

Why are they saying one thing but doing another so as not to hurt big business and their oil industry friends too much? They are speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

Carbon Pricing June 6th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to stand here today to reaffirm the principles and values of progressives and new democrats, the people who put their trust in the NDP in our collective fight against climate change and the warming of the planet. That is why I am announcing that the NDP will oppose the Conservative motion, which looks strangely like a fox trap inside a bear trap, an expression from a movie that I liked a lot when I was younger, The Dog Who Stopped the War.

In fact, the Conservative Party is trying to do indirectly what it cannot do directly. It is using the virtue and positive value of transparency as a pretext for attacking the fact that we need to set a price on carbon emissions in order to gain the necessary tools to reduce our emissions and do our part, as an industrialized nation, to meet our objectives under the Paris agreement. It is the most recent and most comprehensive agreement regarding the greatest challenge facing our planet, which is the possibility that temperatures might rise to a point that they will cause natural disasters, major geographic changes as well as extremely serious geopolitical changes.

There is a reason Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the environment; a rather clear causal link has been established by 99% of the world’s scientific community. There are several ways we can reduce emissions. In fact, there are two great tools: a carbon market and a carbon tax.

The NDP has always favoured the carbon market tool, which has deeper structural effects over the medium and long term. However, a carbon tax is also a viable option. It also makes it possible to use market forces to apply economic and financial pressure on businesses and individuals so they will make the best choices and use the best methods in order to make this green shift towards renewable energy that just about everyone supports.

Let us go over some recent facts about the Paris agreement. It was ratified by 195 countries. Though legally binding, it uses broader brush strokes than previous agreements such as Copenhagen and Kyoto, which only involved 15, 20 or 30 countries.

The primary objective of the Paris agreement is to limit global warming to well below the 2% threshold. There is a broad consensus that, compared to pre-industrial temperatures, this would be the point of no return. The changes that would affect our communities, our country and our continents would become irreversible. This is obviously a scenario that everyone wants to avoid. This is not the kind of environment I want to leave to my children. If we don’t succeed, we will have truly failed future generations. The Paris agreement also sets a warming threshold of 1.5%, but clearly, that is a bit more ambitious.

This agreement is based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. This is not “one size fits all”. Developed countries do not have the same objectives as developing countries. Industrialized countries have an absolute responsibility to reduce carbon emissions, while developing countries must increase their efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

There is also a contribution from the richest countries to the poorest countries. The argument by poorer countries is clear and logical: today’s rich countries are those that have most rapidly industrialized and that have polluted the most. It is difficult to deny poorer countries the same kind of industrialization. Funding of $100 billion per year is planned until 2020 to help them make this transition and allow them to continue to grow, which is entirely legitimate and normal. We did it, too; we had no qualms about it.

The goal is to have a carbon-free world by 2100. That is not to say that there will be no more greenhouse gas emissions, but we hope that new technologies and renewable energy will sufficiently reduce carbon emissions so that the natural environment and carbon sinks will allow us to achieve a balance by 2100.

The Paris agreement is interesting, because it is a dynamic agreement that will be reviewed every five years. Representatives from each country will have to gather together and report on their performance, their progress and their action plan.

The federal government decided to put a price on carbon and concluded that it was good thing. I would remind the members that, unfortunately, the price set by the Liberal government will not allow Canada to meet its targets under the Paris agreement, which is problematic. Any action so far has been extremely modest.

I urge people to try to come up with other measures that would allow us to honour our international commitments. The government is not walking the talk right now. Here is what Greenpeace had to say:

...the framework announced today point[s] in the right direction, but we won’t free ourselves from fossil fuels fast enough to avoid dangerous levels of warming if we allow oil companies to build new tar sands pipelines and liquefied natural gas export facilities that [pollute]...for the next 50 years.

I would add that this is especially true if we continue, as a society, to subsidize oil and gas companies, which are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Something just does not add up here.

Speaking of not adding up, the Conservative motion includes two extremely impractical aspects. It calls for an annual report on the impact of the carbon tax, a federal tax that will not be imposed on the provinces that already have measures in place.

British Columbia and Alberta already have a carbon tax, one that is tougher and more rigorous than the one announced by the current federal government. Ontario and Quebec already trade on carbon markets. The federal government's carbon tax will apply to six out of 10 provinces at this time, because four provinces will be excluded.

It is therefore very difficult to see how the Conservatives can expect an annual report, when the four largest provinces would not be included in the findings. They would have to be taken out of the equation to have any meaningful data. There is an incongruity here that the Conservatives simply did not think through.

The second thing that makes the Conservative motion absolutely unworkable is that it calls for a dedicated line item on invoices and receipts. I can see how that might seem like a good idea at first. However, imagine going to an appliance store to buy a washing machine or a fridge made with many parts manufactured by companies from all around the world shipped by multiple modes of transportation. On an administrative level, it would be absolutely impossible to indicate on the receipt the direct and tangible impact of a federal carbon tax, which, by the way, would apply to 6 out of 10 provinces only.

That is a bit rich coming from a party that advocates cutting red tape. Now, it would create a monster. I cannot imagine a cash register being able to make such a calculation. This is nothing more than an illusion, an intellectual conceit.

That is why the NDP will oppose the Conservative motion.

Infrastructure June 6th, 2017

Meow, Mr. Speaker.

We know that the infrastructure privatization bank will mean new tolls and fees. That is what always happens. Look at Australia. Their competition commissioner, who supported privatization, is now admitting the scheme failed. He says companies want to maximize profits, not efficiency. We have to put a stop to privatization because all it does is raise prices and fees. That is a fact.

Instead of listening to BlackRock and their Bay Street friends, will the Liberals open their eyes and take a good look at the trap we are about to walk into?