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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was know.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Conservative MP for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canadian Human Rights Act December 6th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the bill before us today, Bill C-481, introduced by the hon. member for Laval—Les Îles.

This bill would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code to eliminate the provisions that allow federally regulated employers to set a mandatory retirement age as an exception to the general rule prohibiting discrimination on the basis of age.

I am happy to say that I am in favour of doing away with mandatory retirement. However, for the reasons I will mention in my speech, I believe that this bill, as it currently stands, is much too broad.

However, I would first like to talk about our commitment to supporting Canadian seniors. As members already know, our government is working very hard to improve the lives of seniors in many ways. We created the position of minister of state for seniors. This is to bring the concerns of older Canadians to the cabinet table and to stand on their behalf. In 2007, we created the National Seniors Council to provide advice to the federal government on matters related to the well-being and quality of life of seniors. This year, one of the priorities of the National Seniors Council is labour force participation among seniors and near seniors.

More recently, we increased funding for the targeted initiative for older workers to assist unemployed older workers in vulnerable communities to retrain. This is a five-year, $220 million cost-shared initiative with the provincial and territorial governments. This shows our government's desire to encourage older workers to continue to contribute to the Canadian economy.

The legislative provisions allowing for mandatory retirement policies, which this bill would repeal, were written more than 30 years ago, at a time when mandatory retirement was both routine and part of our economic reality. In addition to many other stereotypes that have now been eliminated, there were often stereotypes about older workers. Thirty years ago, some people assumed that older workers could not do the job, that they were closed to new ideas or that they were not motivated to work because of their pension. It was assumed that younger workers should take their place.

Times have clearly changed. Today, average life expectancy is six years more than it was in 1977. Some people feel that they should be in the workforce longer and save more because they will be retired longer than they would have been in the past. Some people also want the freedom to take time off work or put their career on hold to raise children or take care of other family members. These people may want to retire later in life so that they can save more or acquire more pensionable years of service. And, despite progress in this area, women are largely affected by this issue.

Many people are staying in school longer than they were 30 years ago; as a result, they may join the labour force later. These people may also want to delay retirement.

We need to recognize that many people enjoy their work and gain a sense of personal satisfaction from it. Some people may want to retire early for any number of reasons; others do not. People should be able to choose when they want to retire based on their lifestyle, finances, health and priorities, as long as there are no compelling reasons to keep them from doing so.

At the same time, there are some real concerns that we need to consider if we intend to change the law. In some cases, employers may be completely justified in having a mandatory retirement policy, and the law should allow them to do so.

As written, the bill would repeal paragraph 15(1)(b) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which authorizes mandatory retirement once an individual reaches the maximum age provided for by law or regulation. The bill goes a little too far. There may be cases in which it is necessary to pass a bill or regulations to set a maximum retirement age. One example that comes to mind is the Canadian Forces.

For a number of reasons, the Canadian Forces are a unique employer.

First, the Canadian Forces have to respect the principle of universality of service. Every time the Canadian Forces take part in international or national operations, including armed conflict, each member of the Canadian Forces must at all times and under any circumstances perform any functions that they may be required to perform other than the duties of their occupational specification. This includes the obligation to carry out military duties, such as combat, under extremely dangerous circumstances. Other federal government employees or members of the general public are not required to carry out this important duty.

This unique characteristic of the Canadian Forces requires a special approach to human resource management. To maintain a homogeneous and effective combat force, the Canadian Forces must have a mandatory retirement age to ensure a steady supply of personnel with the knowledge and experience required at each level. Fighter pilots, submariners and tank commanders cannot just be hired overnight. These people must devote many years to mastering their occupations within the Canadian Forces structure. These are the men and women we are counting on to become the future leaders of our Canadian Forces.

The Canadian Forces cannot maintain their international reputation for skills and excellence unless they continue receiving training that surpasses the minimum standard.

The Canadian Forces are a small force whose numbers are subject to a finite limit. Our armed forces cannot afford the luxury of maintaining individuals on active duty until their voluntary release, which would be decided by each member. This would lead directly to stagnation and have an impact on the effectiveness of the Canadian Forces in protecting Canada, its values and its interests.

If the Canadian Forces cannot maintain a mandatory retirement age, they could face serious financial and operational difficulties.

The Canadian Forces are unique in that they pay for all medical care for their personnel directly out of the departmental budget. An aging workforce within the Canadian Forces would increase the demands on available resources, which would in turn leave fewer funds available to properly carry out the forces' operational responsibilities.

That is why it is very important to ensure that the retirement age may be fixed by regulation under the authority of paragraph 15(1)(b).

This authority could also be useful in other cases, particularly in industries that are subject to international rules governing the maximum age for carrying out certain duties.

Furthermore, these policies are often negotiated as part of collective agreements and are sometimes linked to pension arrangements. Employers and unions will need some time to renegotiate these provisions and to make the appropriate changes to pension plans. Some employers will need time to determine whether they have sufficient information to impose a mandatory retirement age as a bona fide occupational requirement.

That is why it is very important to establish coming into force provisions; otherwise, making such a significant change without allowing employers and unions enough time to adjust could create some undesirable situations.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me the opportunity to speak to this matter. The question of mandatory retirement is both important and complex. I am proud of the work our government has done to support older Canadians.

December 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada works with provincial and territorial authorities, as well as with aboriginal communities and groups, to help find the most effective and appropriate solutions and to design co-operative approaches to address the many factors that increase the risk of violence for aboriginal women.

The seven measures that were announced on October 29 constitute concrete, targeted action that use this front line experience. Working together, the new national police support centre for missing persons, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the five police intervention units will be able to make a real difference in law enforcement. Aboriginal communities, groups and organizations also have real experience that must be taken into consideration in order to make sustainable changes.

I am eager to see how this investment will improve the current approaches.

December 1st, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the member's question shows that there is misinformation out there right now about the government's response to the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women. I would first like to thank the opposition member for giving me the opportunity to correct these misunderstandings.

I think that this issue is much too serious to be politicized, because young women have been brutally killed and families are still ravaged by pain. That is why I will answer this question very carefully and try not to leave anything out.

On October 29, the Minister for Status of Women announced the seven components of the most recent investment by the government in response to the unacceptably high number of missing and murdered aboriginal women, as indicated in the Sisters in Spirit reports.

We expect that these investments will enhance law enforcement and justice system interventions. This approach is in line with our throne speech commitment to “address the disturbing number of unsolved cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women”, which we consider to be an urgent criminal justice matter, and our budget commitment to take “concrete ensure that law enforcement and the justice system meet the needs of Aboriginal women and their families.”

This is why a portion of the money will be allocated to creating a new national police support centre for missing persons. In addition, funds will be used to ensure that police officers on the ground across Canada have easier access to comprehensive information about missing persons so they will know immediately whether a person detained for any reason has been reported missing. This measure responds to the concerns expressed in the report by the Native Women's Association of Canada. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police passed a resolution calling on the federal government to show leadership with respect to missing persons, and the federal-provincial-territorial working group on missing and murdered women recently published a report.

The new national police support centre for missing persons will help all Canadians. Permanent staff will include members of the RCMP's national aboriginal policing services to ensure that missing aboriginal women remain a top priority. The new centre's mission will be to create connections among the five police intervention units currently responsible for solving cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women and to provide specialized services to regional and local investigators.

Five of the seven measures announced focus on these other aspects. Funds will be channeled to the western provinces, where Sisters in Spirit has reported the largest number of missing or murdered aboriginal women, to help them better adapt their victim services to aboriginal culture. There are also funds available for front-line aboriginal groups and organizations to create victim support services that meet the unique needs of families of missing or murdered women, which is important. This measure will help aboriginal victims and their families.

Some funding will also be allocated to help aboriginal communities work together to develop community safety plans that focus on and meet their needs, one community at a time, to bring about change—

Radon November 30th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, today our government published the preliminary results of a federal, Canada-wide study on radon. Our government wants to protect families and is urging Canadians to have their homes tested for radon.

Radon is a health threat to Canadian families. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the country. It is a radioactive gas found naturally in the ground and in rock. It can be found anywhere and can seep into a home through cracks in the foundation. It is colourless, odourless and tasteless. The only way to detect it is through a home test. If a high level of radon is detected, the problem can be fixed.

As the holidays approach, our government is inviting all families to get a radon detector and test their home.

Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act November 29th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this debate today and to speak in favour of this important bill.

One of the aims of Bill C-49 is to protect the integrity and the fairness of the Canadian immigration and refugee protection systems. That is what I would like to talk about today.

Most Canadians are in favour of a generous and open immigration system. They also support protecting asylum seekers who enter Canada through the usual channels and who are true refugees. Canadians also support the resettlement of refugees who are victims of persecution. Our government is honouring its commitments in each of these areas.

However, Canadians are not naive, and the actions of people who enter the country without going through the usual channels are an affront to people's sense of fairness and respect for the rule of law. While leaving the door open to immigrants and refugees, our government is resolved to protect the integrity and fairness of our immigration and refugee protection systems by identifying and combatting fraudulent activities.

That is why we recently proposed legislative changes to crack down on consultants who take advantage of people by making them pay for bad advice or who help them enter the country or obtain their citizenship in a fraudulent manner. As everyone knows, these crimes take place in every country. Criminals often work in more than one country at the same time. For that reason, Canada is encouraging other governments to co-operate and prevent such abuses, mainly by cracking down on consultants who exploit people trying to immigrate to Canada.

All too often, those who fall into the trap realize too late that they have been duped and have lost their money. Human smugglers are ruthless profiteers.

As members know, we recently passed the Balanced Refugee Reform Act in order to improve the Canadian asylum system by speeding up the process that affords protection to those who really need it and the removal of those whose claims are denied.

However, it is important to remain vigilant with respect to new threats to the integrity of Canada's refugee protection system and abuses of that system, such as the recent arrivals of large numbers of immigrants by boat.

It is unfair for them to jump the queue ahead of those who are playing by the rules and waiting their turn to immigrate to Canada. It is completely unacceptable that people are abusing Canada's generosity to fraudulently profit from it. That is what it comes down to.

Canada welcomes and will always welcome those who wait their turn to come here in search of a better life. These brave and hard-working people from the four corners of the world have been enriching our magnificent country and our culture for hundreds of years.

Yes, Canada is a welcoming place. Canada welcomes thousands of new immigrants and refugees each year thanks to one of the fairest and most generous systems in the world. Our hospitality is a source of pride for our government as well as for the Canadian people; it is a testimony to the generous nature of our nation. However, our government has clearly stated that we cannot tolerate abuse of our immigration system, be it by human smugglers or by people who are not respecting the rules.

That is why our government has introduced a bill to keep smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system. Through these amendments, our government is targeting criminals who smuggle people, abuse our generous immigration system and put Canadian communities in danger. We are creating a significant deterrent to those who would consider using a human smuggler to avoid having to wait to come to Canada. We are also ensuring the integrity and equality of the Canadian immigration system for years to come. We are also sending a message to criminal networks and groups that facilitating human smuggling will not be tolerated in Canada.

Specifically, Bill C-49 will make it easier to prosecute human smugglers, will impose a mandatory minimum sentence on convicted human smugglers and, finally, will hold shipowners and operators accountable for the use of their ships in human smuggling operations.

The amendments proposed by our government will allow us to ensure the safety of Canadian communities through a maximum one-year mandatory detention of individuals who enter Canada illegally.

Durban Conference November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, today our government announced that Canada will not be attending the September 2011 conference commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action. Our government will not hesitate to combat all forms of racism.

Last December, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to hold an event in September 2011 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the first Durban conference, which was held in 2001. The media is dubbing this new event Durban III.

Canada was the first country to announce its withdrawal from Durban II and it will now be the first to announce that it will not be attending Durban III.

Our government no longer has any confidence in the Durban process. Canada's reputation would be compromised if it took part in this new Durban event, whose agenda promotes racism rather than combats it.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act November 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I thought I had answered that question. I apologize to my colleagues.

In the technology world, there is the server and then there is the site. The site produces the child pornography. Once it is reported, once we know that the site is hosted on a particular server and the server operators have done everything possible to determine that there was a pornographic site on the hard drive—in general terms—the police will intervene. They have 21 days to look at the evidence. The site will be shut down. It will no longer exist. That is what that means. That is a site.

A site produces pornography and uses the server to distribute its filth to all of our computers. So we must first find out how it works. Recently, a child pornography site was investigated because a number of witnesses reported it. There were about 116 IP address changes in 24 hours. Imagine that. That is what they had to track down.

We have to have a way to catch them, to find them, to bring them to justice and to shut them down. That is the goal.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act November 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, in fact, it is a matter of knowing whether to totally block them or to use reporting, with tools like, to intervene. When it comes to completely blocking them, I could mention the country that blocks them the most: China. It completely blocks everything.

Other countries block certain areas of the server. However, techniques are so advanced that people can simply go on another server and start over. We need to find a way—and that is why was created—to allow the public and parents to report things if they see their children going on any strange websites.

Instead of having one or 10 television or Internet police officers, we could have one million people all over Canada reporting what they see. Accordingly, it will be very difficult to escape this huge network of eyes watching the Internet just for child pornography.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act November 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has a Parliamentary Assembly of 54 countries. Many democratic countries have laws that are more or less similar to ours.

Nonetheless, we are the only country to have proposed joining all these laws together so that all the other democratic countries—some of which are more or less democratic—that are part of this organization as observers or such can see precisely what Canada has done.

If our proposal was nothing new, they would have told us this already exists in their country, but they did not. Our way of presenting the bill is in fact something they did not have. Everyone has laws against these servers, but we have developed something much broader, requiring ISPs to disclose what we are asking for so that we can make arrests and store evidence. We were able to justify all of these actions, and the 54 countries accepted.

Protecting Children from Online Sexual Exploitation Act November 24th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. Numerous countries have been wondering the same thing. What is happening here can make its way there and vice versa.

Both there and here in the House, Canada tabled what we refer to as 21st century evidence. In other words, we will give Internet service providers everything they need. Not only will the government alert providers to the presence of child pornography or anything degrading that is prohibited by law on their sites, but it will also order them to have the means to store the material as evidence for approximately 21 days. That way, complaints can be brought against a provider that has not said anything or, if it has, against the people using such sites.

There is also the issue of pornographic images coming from other countries. Countries are talking to each other, especially the people who enforce the law, such as police. The convention on cybercrime, which is about a decade old and which many countries have signed, allows us to notify the countries in question when something is found. This has been in effect for some time now. They take our information and we take theirs. We then make arrests or simply shut down the server.