House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was health.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Liberal MP for Pierrefonds—Dollard (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Defence March 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, according to the parliamentary budget officer, these 65 fighter jets would cost at least $30 billion. Even our Bloc colleagues have joined the Liberals in opposing this hasty and unreasonable purchase. Furthermore, the Conservatives have rushed through this contract so quickly that they obtained only crumbs for Quebec's aerospace industry.

Now that the majority of this House is opposed to the purchase, what are the Conservatives waiting for to launch a bidding process?

Veterans March 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are in such a hurry to buy fighter jets that they only did half the calculations to determine the cost.

I would love to see them show as much urgency when it comes to helping our veterans who, because of their participation in the Afghan mission, will forever be scarred, both physically and mentally.

How many of them could count on better support upon their return if the Conservatives made the effort to save billions of dollars on the purchase of the F-35s by using a tendering process?

Committees of the House February 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The purpose of this report is to place the proceedings of the Committee’s meeting of Thursday, December 9, 2010, concerning what appears to be a possible breach of privilege, officially before the House.

Public Safety February 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, then why did they make cuts to victim support programs? It is a matter of choice. The Conservatives would rather build megaprisons than improve support for family caregivers. The Conservatives would rather hire prison guards than give small businesses real tax support, even though small businesses provide over half of all jobs to Canadians.

Those are the Conservatives' choices, but will there be anything left to help family caregivers or support our small businesses?

Public Safety February 11th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are trying to hide the real cost of their prison policies, but now the cat is out of the bag. At yesterday's Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates meeting, the Commissioner of Correctional Service Canada, Mr. Head, said that at least 4,000 new prison guards would have to be hired in the next two years. In payroll alone, we are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.

How many billions will the whole policy cost?

Ernie Regehr February 7th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, on January 21, I had the honour and privilege of attending the ceremony in which His Excellency the Governor General of Canada presented the Pearson Peace Medal to Ernie Regehr.

Originally from Waterloo, Ontario, Mr. Regehr is a prominent figure and respected the world over for his voice on disarmament and arms control in general, human security and peace.

Canadian and foreign governments as well as the United Nations regularly rely upon his expertise, judgment and balanced views on these issues.

On behalf of all members of this House, I wish to offer our warmest congratulations on receiving this medal and our sincere thanks to an exceptional man who has dedicated his career to the national and international dialogue on disarmament and peace.

Situation in Egypt February 2nd, 2011

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

Change will not happen overnight. The first part of change is knowing that change is coming, since there has been very little for the past 30 years. That is what is most important.

I am not saying that the army is either on the government's side or that of the people, but from the reports on television, we see that the army is remaining very silent right now, which is to the people's advantage.

It is especially important to remember that this is a little like what happened in Tunisia. This revolution, on the heels of the one in Tunisia, is still a result of the April 6 movement, which originated in the Nile delta. In that region, people wanted political reforms, but above all, they wanted social and economic reforms. In a large country like Egypt, with a population of 80 million, there are no jobs and the people have no future. That is what people want the most, and I think the fact that President Mubarak appointed Mr. Suleiman means that he is going to step down very soon.

Situation in Egypt February 2nd, 2011

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

Under the Egyptian constitution, the vice-president must become president. However, in the 30 years that Mr. Mubarak has been in power, there has never been a vice-president. When Mr. Sadat was assassinated, there was no vice-president. All presidents have the fear, in the back of their minds, that if they appoint a vice-president they will be killed. I was told that this was one of the ways of thinking in Egypt. As a result, there have been no vice-presidents.

Mr. Mubarak sent a very clear message by appointing Mr. Suleiman. First, it means that the presidency will not stay in the Mubarak family as expected; it was thought that Mubarak's son Gamal would become president after his father. Second, Mr. Suleiman truly brings stability to the region because he is the first negotiator for Israel, Palestine and the wider region. Mr. Suleiman is a very competent individual. Even Mr. ElBaradei, who is acting as a negotiator for the opposition parties, welcomed the appointment of Mr. Suleiman. They are prepared to work with him.

Situation in Egypt February 2nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre.

I am pleased to participate in this evening's debate on the situation in Egypt, a debate called for by my colleague, the hon. member for Toronto Centre.

I am especially pleased to take part in this debate because my riding of Pierrefonds—Dollard is home to many Canadians of Egyptian origin, a community that is very involved and very engaged.

In addition, Canada has enjoyed a close relationship with Egypt since the Suez crisis in 1956. Since that time, we have shared a broad range of common interests, and I will mention only a few: trade relations, the Francophonie and most importantly, the desire for a fair solution in the Middle East.

But what happened so suddenly that caused all of Egypt to erupt? To understand the current situation, we must not forget history. There are many well-known causes, including youth unemployment, food shortages, the unchallenged domination of the National Democratic Party, President Mubarak's party, and the fact that during the next election, one of the president's sons, Gamal, might run for president.

But the success of the uprising in Tunisia was certainly the trigger. When he saw the scope of these protests, President Mubarak responded by shuffling his cabinet. However, the opposition forces rejected this change and called for the president to step down. I should note that in response, for the first time in 30 years, the president appointed a vice-president, Omar Souleiman, who, according to the Egyptian constitution, would become president, in the event the current president stepped down, until the next election.

In the meantime, the alliance of all of the opposition parties has asked Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to negotiate a transition with the president's regime. Mr. ElBaradei has received extensive media coverage abroad but is relatively unknown in his own country. Jean-Noël Ferrié, the director of research at the CNRS, feels that he is not the right man for the job because he is “too alone and too absent”.

But what does the opposition want? In short, it wants to see the president gone. What would happen then? The new president, Mr. Souleiman, would temporarily take over the presidency for a transition period, during which both houses of parliament would be dissolved and the constitution would be revised with a view to presidential and legislative elections.

But would this scenario be acceptable to the coalition? Members must remember that this coalition is very divided and has opposing goals and visions. We must remember that these protests were initiated by the April 6 Youth Movement, led by Ahmad Maher. This group was started during a workers' uprising in the Nile delta in 2008. Mr. Maher is calling for not only political reforms, but also social and economic reforms.

Another party, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is prohibited by the government, is still represented by a number of independent members of parliament. This party is a big question mark and is a very big concern for Israel. Furthermore, there are 20 or so political parties that make up the legal opposition, including the Nationalist Party, the New Wafd Party, and the El Ghad Party, created by Ayman Nour, a candidate who lost in the 2005 presidential election.

Where does that leave us today? The coalition is continuing to put very strong pressure on the current government through massive demonstrations. People are speaking out around the world. Catherine Ashton, the head of European diplomacy, has called on President Mubarak to act as soon as possible to carry out the political transition. The British Prime Minister told the British Parliament that this transition should be urgent and credible and that it should start now.

On this side of the Atlantic, President Obama has said that an orderly transition must be significant and peaceful and must begin now. Canada is closely monitoring the situation. The crucial role of the army should not be forgotten because, since 1952, all Egyptian presidents have come from the ranks of the army. Furthermore, only the army has veto power with respect to presidential succession. Is the army prepared to give up this veto during future negotiations on constitutional amendments?

I believe there is no turning back. Through diplomacy, Canada must play a much greater role than it does at present in searching for an equitable solution. After 30 years of unchallenged rule, future negotiations will be arduous, long and very difficult. That is where Canada must make a contribution.

Every effort must be made to ensure that human rights and freedom of association, movement and religion are guaranteed not only in the constitution, but in reality.

The violence must stop and Canada must now play a role not only in the establishment of meaningful dialogue, but also in the reconstruction of such a beautiful country.

Black History Month February 1st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, before being officially recognized by Parliament in 1995, the celebration of African-Canadian history and culture was just a modest community-based movement.

February is Black History Month and an excellent opportunity to pay tribute to the efforts and accomplishments of the African community in Canada. Whether we are talking about athletes, politicians, artists or businesspeople, the contribution by this community over the years has been truly outstanding.

I know first-hand that through their perseverance, determination and courage, they have proven to us that dreams can come true, that we can overcome obstacles and succeed at anything we do.

I am very proud to join Canadians in thanking Canada's black community for contributing its rich African heritage to our multicultural society.