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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

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, thankfully, ironic comments are not offensive. The claim that the NDP is against a unionization process is one of the most absurd things I have heard in this place.

I am just going to respond to my colleague by repeating the comments made by Rae Banwarie, president of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada. He said that they would not support this bill in its current form because it does not respect the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling or the charter. In his opinion, the bill does not meet the constitutional test and it favours RCMP managers. It would continue to undermine the rights of RCMP members and their families. He feels that this bill, in its current form, will undermine and negate established protection mechanisms found in many union organizations and collective agreements of other forces.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today, and I want to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for Burnaby South, who works very hard to defend workers' rights here in the House.

Like other members in the House, I want to take 30 seconds to congratulate our RCMP officers and to thank them for all the work they do across the country. They work hard to keep us, our communities, and our children safe. As a member of Parliament from the Montreal area, I do not deal much with RCMP officers, since they do not directly serve Montreal. The SPVM serves Montreal. However, we are aware of the good work they do and of how dangerous and essential their jobs are.

I am very pleased to rise today to speak about fundamental rights like free collective bargaining, a topic that is close to our hearts as progressive, social democrats, as New Democrats. This topic is especially important to us because gathering, assembling, and fighting for the collective bargaining power to improve one's working and living conditions is a fundamental part of social progress and of the progress of our societies and our country.

We have seen what a positive impact the process of unionization can have on people's quality of life in terms of pay and benefits as well as in terms of respect for employees and ensuring that they are not subjected to discrimination or abuse by employers or ignored whenever they speak up.

People say that right-wingers are about defending the middle class, but not many people realize that the middle class exists primarily because of the union movement. In the 18th century, when unions were illegal, people had absolutely appalling working conditions. They had no rights, and they worked like dogs for pay that kept them forever poor. People were constantly being pauperized. That is why we need to recognize the work of the many men and women who decided to join forces and sit down to negotiate collective agreements and labour contracts that laid out the rules of the game and ensured healthy workplaces that enabled people to support their families, enjoy some recreation, travel, and so on.

Unions became legal in Canada in 1872. However, RCMP members have been in a rather unique situation since the force was created in 1918. RCMP members have always been denied the right to organize and negotiate their labour contracts, even though this clearly violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the right to free bargaining has been upheld by a number of courts, including the B.C. Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Saskatchewan, as well as the Supreme Court of Canada.

I am pleased, in one sense, that the Liberal government is finally bringing such a long struggle to an end. For decades now, RCMP members have been wanting the same right that everyone else enjoys. However, I am bitterly disappointed in the drafting of the bill and the work done by the Liberal government. Once again, we are in a situation where, in an effort to follow a directive or ruling from the Supreme Court, the Liberal government is trying to respond to it, but is doing so carelessly and sloppily. It is making things up and forgetting things, and as I think my colleague said earlier, this could give rise to new legal debates. Bill C-7 will probably be challenged in the courts because it contains things that are clearly completely unacceptable and infringe on the right to free bargaining.

Some of the clauses violate the very principle that this bill is supposed to defend. What are they? For us, the most important thing is the exclusions. Bill C-7 excludes some issues, certain matters, from the collective bargaining process. RCMP officers are being told that they have the right to organize and to collectively negotiate a work contract, but they do not have the right to talk about certain things and the government is the one that decides. They are being told that they only have the right to talk about pay and benefits, period.

What are the exclusions? One of them is staffing, the ability to decide who will get a promotion or who will be hired.

Deployment is another: who will go to what city, town, or region. Shift work is yet another: will workers have to work alone or will they have backup?

There is also harassment and disciplinary action. That is an important issue. The Liberals are excluding anything related to harassment in the workplace from the RCMP's collective bargaining process. RCMP officers will therefore be unable to file a complaint in that regard. That is outrageous. Why would RCMP officers be deprived of that option?

There is also disciplinary action. It was excluded out of hand and no one knows why, as though these sorts of things magically take care of themselves.

Whose idea was it to exclude these issues? They are what can make the difference between a happy and healthy workplace and a workplace rife with conflict, competition, poor relations between colleagues, and even poor relations between managers and employees.

The NDP does not understand why these issues, which have a major impact on workplace health and safety, were dismissed out of hand by the Liberal government.

What will happen? It is pretty clear, and the writing is on the wall. If this bill passes, when RCMP officers become unionized, they will eventually claim their right to talk about these issues and to have an internal complaint process so that they can have their say. Why would they be denied this right, when all other unionized police forces in Canada can talk about these issues?

In no way has the Liberal government shown that the reliability, neutrality, or viability of the RCMP would be called into question as a result of these collective bargaining issues and that they therefore had to be excluded from the process. This makes absolutely no sense. This will result in more legal proceedings and additional costs, not only for taxpayers, but also for the RCMP officers' union. This is all completely unnecessary, since we could fix this problem right here, right now.

I urge the Liberal government to listen to reason, instead of forcing Parliament to pass botched, flawed bills that will be challenged in court. I urge the government to do its job and to respect the fundamental right to free collective bargaining.

This issue affects an important, though small, segment of our society. There is no reason why these people should not have the same rights as all workers. The work they do is recognized and respected by everyone. I think that we should give them the tools that will help them create a workplace where they feel comfortable and are heard, and where they are able to speak up when necessary.

For these reasons, the NDP cannot vote in favour of Bill C-7, even though it is well-intentioned and even though the Supreme Court issued its ruling. We cannot support the bill because the government did a sloppy job and this bill will be challenged in court.

I want to use the few minutes I have left to say that I do not understand why, in this debate, the people from the Conservative Party, who dragged their feet miserably after the Supreme Court ruling was handed down in January 2015, keep coming back to the issue of having a secret ballot for the union certification process. That has nothing to do with Bill C-7. It is like they are trying to relive the years of the previous government, when, in fact, a unionization process involving membership cards signed and submitted to the Canada Industrial Relations Board, the CIRB, is the best and easiest way to unionize a group. We often hear the Conservatives say that having people sign cards will lead to bullying and that is why they prefer a secret ballot. In the unionization process, any bullying is done by the employers and not by the workers. It is not documented and it does not exist.

I come from the union movement. In my previous life, I was a union activist and a union advisor. We know that a unionization process by secret ballot often leads to negative results for the workers. It is not as successful. The longer the vote, the more time the employer has to use blackmail or make promises or threats.

That is why we want to keep the current system. I would like our Conservative friends to understand that some day.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague and commend him for his speech on an important subject that we, as progressive people and New Democrats, care a lot about, and that is the ability to unionize to improve working conditions.

However, the Liberal government seems to be following a certain pattern. It was forced by the Supreme Court to draft certain laws, but it did a sloppy job. The government is doing things that are not consistent with the Supreme Court's request.

The NDP does not understand why the government is proposing all of these exclusions and why it wants to limit RCMP officers' ability to negotiate, when that right has been recognized by a number of courts, including the Supreme Court, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This bill will likely be challenged and that will result in more legal fees.

I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that.

Public Service Labour Relations Act May 30th, 2016

Madam Speaker, it is odd, I hear my Conservative colleagues making speeches and I get the impression that they are not talking about Bill C-7 so much as the former Bill C-525, which forced a secret ballot for union certification processes.

The NDP believes that the ability to form a union is a fundamental right and that RCMP officers deserve to have the same rights as the members of the other unionized police forces in Canada.

I would like my Conservative colleague to say a few words about that. Why does he think that RCMP officers should not have the same rights as members of other police forces in Canada?

Democratic Reform May 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the government wants to change the electoral system, but it does not really know how to change it, so it is making things up as it goes along. Nobody knows how long this will take. All we know is that the key players are a bunch of confused Liberals.

The minister says she does not want to change anything unless she has broad public buy-in. She obviously has no idea where she wants to go with this. It is hard to have faith in the process when the Liberals have been dragging their feet for seven months and have stacked their committee with Liberals.

Will the government fix things by changing the committee membership so that no political party has a majority?

Democratic Reform May 18th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is rare to have the opportunity to have a real discussion on our electoral system. We have an historic opportunity to put an end to an archaic system that creates false majorities, like the one the Liberal Party got in the last election.

With the parliamentary straitjacket the Liberals presented yesterday, I find it hard to believe that they are not going to use their false majority to impose their views.

Can the Liberals assure the House today that they will do the only honourable thing to improve our democratic life and get the support of at least one opposition party?

Air Canada Public Participation Act May 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have a simple question for the minister.

The federal legislation that the Liberal Party was defending only four years ago stipulated that Air Canada had to keep its maintenance and servicing activities in Montreal, Winnipeg, and Mississauga.

The workers who lost their jobs four years ago began legal proceedings. They have rights. They took their case before the Quebec Superior Court, and they won. The case then went before the Quebec Court of Appeal, and they won. Their case is currently before the Supreme Court, and if the law does not change, they will win again.

I would like to know whether the minister plans to infringe on our rights as parliamentarians by imposing another gag order in the House to make it easier for the Liberals to trample all over the rights of the Aveos and Air Canada workers, who were going to win before the Supreme Court.

Is the minister in such a hurry because he wants to get Bill C-10 through as quickly as possible given that the Supreme Court is supposed to return to this case on July 15? Is that what he wants?

Air Canada Public Participation Act May 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

This new approach to politics that involves sitting down together, reaching a consensus, and finding solutions to everyone's liking is just smoke and mirrors.

I fully understand why the Conservative Party has chosen the angle of the Government of Quebec's request for more time, which was ignored by the Liberal government, and the Manitoba government's desire to save jobs in that province, which was also ignored by the Liberal government.

I am just a little surprised that my Conservative colleague is asking the government to work more closely with the unions. I will let the irony of that drift through the House. However, I welcome this new tone and the change in the Conservative Party's position.

The Liberal government is acting unilaterally and imposing closure and does not want to speak with anyone. Once again, it is using parliamentary tactics to end debate and, unfortunately, get rid of 2,600 good jobs in Canada.

Air Canada Public Participation Act May 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I gather that once again, on the pretext of competitiveness, we are going to sacrifice 2,600 good jobs in Canada even though these jobs were protected by federal law.

The government has not provided any economic or financial proof that Bill C-10 is crucial to Air Canada. On the contrary, it is trying to give the company a present at the expense of the workers who have lost their livelihoods.

Is that surprising, given that the Minister of Transport told us in committee that he met with representatives from the industry and Air Canada 12 times and he never met with the workers?

Air Canada Public Participation Act May 16th, 2016

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

We thought that the Conservatives were the champions of closure motions. However, surprise, surprise, after promising a new way of doing politics and a new approach, the Liberals are going down the same path and imposing closure motions one after the other.

In the case of Bill C-10, first, there is no evidence that Air Canada absolutely needed to be freed from its legal obligations toward the maintenance workers.

Second, why impose closure and rush things? That is a very good question. I think the lawsuit the workers won in Quebec Superior Court and then in the Court of Appeal will soon be heading to the Supreme Court. The Liberal government is in a hurry to help its friends, the bosses at Air Canada, win their case in the Supreme Court. Why is it in such a hurry? The Supreme Court resumes hearing this case on July 15, right after Parliament rises for the summer around Quebec's national holiday.

It is no coincidence. They are trying to get rid of something unpleasant. They do not want to be seen as the ones who killed 2,600 jobs, and they do not want to allow the Aveos workers to win their case in the Supreme Court. They are therefore getting rid of the hot potato as fast as they can.

However, I am sure that people are going to cotton on to the Liberal hypocrisy and the fact that they completely changed their tune in the span of just four years and they are doing nothing to help the aerospace sector when it comes to aircraft maintenance.