House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was ndp.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 15th, 2015

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

That is definitely something I would like to comment on. Each political party announces the good initiatives it would like the Canadian government to implement. The NDP leader proposed an excellent solution that would reduce the youth unemployment rate: a hiring credit. The NDP wants to make sure that the measures we introduce to help businesses really do create new jobs. We wanted to see a $1,000 credit for each new job; $2,000 if the employee is young. I think that will make a difference. Our youth need to be in the job market. They need training and encouragement. They are the next generation. This kind of measure could change young people's lives, and it could even change the Canadian economy.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal colleague for his question. It is rather complex. He is asking me to assess the Liberal's economic plan for families.

To be quite honest, I have not studied the Liberal's entire economic platform. However, I know that we need a budget and election promises. Canadians have been cheated election after election. Promises need to be kept. However, the budget also needs to be balanced. The NDP decided to make $15 a day child care a priority because it is an investment that yields returns. What is more, I know that the NDP has the money to fund that program.

That is why I cannot comment on the Liberal platform. However, I hope that the Liberals will present Canadians with a balanced platform. Canadians can then decide for themselves whether the Liberal plan makes sense.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to finally be able to speak to the budget. I am not going to lie. As an MP, I felt muzzled, especially this year with the time allocation motion on the budget. For a long time I did not think the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord would get 10 minutes to talk about his expectations regarding the budget. I would not dare expect 20 minutes.

The budget includes some good measures that I will go over. However, it also has some shortcomings and misses opportunities. I am also aware that when I am finished my speech, the government is not necessarily going to take my suggestions and rewrite the budget this year, what with just a few days left before the House adjourns. However, I hope that regardless who is in power this fall, the government might consider the needs of my riding and the realities of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. It is a region that I am very proud to represent. I am the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, but in the region, there is not much difference between the ridings except at the local level. Whether we are talking about Jonquière—Alma, Lac-Saint-Jean or Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, we have the same reality and we must work together for our industries and our people. I will not necessarily make a distinction between the needs of the ridings. We can make progress by working together.

I will begin by talking about the good things about the budget. I commend the Conservative government for adopting one of the ideas that the NDP put forward in 2011. I personally campaigned on this issue. I am talking about our measure to encourage job creation and stimulate the economy by focusing on SMEs because they create over 70% of the new jobs in Canada. Helping SMEs just makes sense. The government adopted the NDP's idea to lower the small business tax rate by 2%, from 11% to 9%. As this idea is implemented over the next few years, I honestly think that it will have a positive impact on our business community, whether in large cities like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver or in small communities like mine.

I represent a number of small communities, including Saint-Fulgence, Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, Ferland-et-Boilleau, L'Anse-Saint-Jean, Petit-Saguenay, Rivière-Éternité, Saint-Felix-d'Otis and Saint-Honoré. These small municipalities have from 500 to 2,500 residents. Naturally, a large corporation is not going to move into the town and create 2,000 jobs. Small and medium-sized businesses, like gas stations, are the ones that will open up. Unfortunately, over the past four years, municipalities have lost more gas stations than they have gained. Many other small municipalities are at risk of losing their grocery stores. My point is that in these small municipalities, jobs at SMEs make all the difference. These businesses ensure that someone who is born in the town can continue to live there and work there as long as possible, even as they age.

Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean is a beautiful area of the country for nature lovers, and it is a top destination for people who want to live there and those who want to visit. I find it sad that young people cannot find summer jobs. They know that once they reach adulthood they will most likely end up in the big city, such as Saguenay, Quebec City or Montreal. I am, above all, an advocate for the regions. Political stripes aside, my region is what defines me. My region is currently struggling when it comes to jobs. The unemployment rate remains quite high—higher than the average, in fact. Although things improve come spring and summer, the unemployment rate still remains quite high. A number of plants and big companies have closed in recent years, which has left a mark on our economy. It infuriates me that the government dipped into the employment insurance fund to balance its budget this year.

I think that money could have gone to the unemployed workers who are going through tough times. They need all the federal help they can get to ensure that their families have what they need. Entrepreneurs need help in order to create new jobs.

There are things missing from this budget, and I think that is a shame. In March, I made the same grocery list. I wanted to put pressure on the government on three major issues that would have made a big difference for a riding like mine and all of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.

First there is forestry. There is no denying that Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean has a number of major industries tied to forestry and aluminum. Agriculture and tourism are very important as well. When things go poorly for a major player like forestry, then many jobs are on the line. In my region, forestry jobs have been lost or have become very precarious. Ideally, the federal government should have invested in research and development. I hope that they will consider that in a future budget. That would be good not only for secondary and tertiary processing of forest products, in order to develop new niches and processes, but also for exporting this type of new product. Unfortunately, even though I see that this year's budget includes a two-year renewal of the funding for the national forestry engineering research centre—the exact name escapes me—it is not a lot of money for the entire industry in Canada. More research would be good. We must not abandon our primary industry.

Our big corporations, including Resolute Forest Products, play a vital role in the regional economy. That is why I liked one of the previous government programs. It was the four-year $90 million investments forest industry transformation program. It was a step in the right direction because this program met the exact needs of the forestry industry in my region and throughout Canada.

The problem was that it was a four-year program and the $90 million was spent in the first year. Our forestry industry needs more federal assistance to renew itself, modernize its facilities and improve its performance. The Forest Products Association of Canada had determined that the industry would need $500 million over six years. The government proposed $90 million over four years, and already there is no money left. We urge the federal government to invest more in forestry.

Furthermore, seven years ago, the Conservatives made a promise that has yet to be included in a budget, or even put to Treasury Board. I am referring to funding for 2 Wing at the Bagotville military base. This project has a $300 million price tag, with $180 million for infrastructure, which would house 500 members assigned to Bagotville. Two hundred and fifty members have already arrived and they still do not have dedicated premises. They are sharing the resources of 3 Wing. The $180 million will also be used for warehouses, because this is a vital unit of our Department of National Defence. It is important to release the $180 million in funding for the Bagotville and 2 Wing infrastructure.

I have very little time remaining. I will close by talking about our tourism industry. Helping this industry is a simple matter: we need customs services at the Bagotville airport. Right now, we do not have full customs services. Services are available only when flight capacity does not exceed 30 passengers. That is not good because Europeans love our region and they want to come spend money there and contribute to our tourism economy. However, the government needs to do more on this project so that we can get more equipment. I am convinced that this should be easy to do. The facilities at the airport and the Bagotville military base are of high quality.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 15th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that my colleague had a chance to talk about the budget. In a while, I will also have a chance to give a speech on this major budget, which will be the last.

In my speech, I will talk about how things are in my region, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, but I would like to know how things are in my colleague's part of the country.

What measures to help his constituents would he have liked to see in this budget but did not, unfortunately?

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am going to ask the member the same question that I asked his Conservative colleague.

Is the Conservative government open to tightening up the laws on animal cruelty, particularly when it falls under federal jurisdiction? What is his personal position on that?

There are several examples that come to mind. Recently, in my region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, there have been some incidents in which companion animals were killed, hung or even shot with rifles. Given the definition of companion animal, such animals are considered property in Canada. I do not think anyone here is against virtue. Are the member and his government open to tightening up the laws so that killing a companion animal in this manner is considered a criminal offence?

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I believe that my colleague did not have enough time to finish his speech and to say everything he wanted to. I would like to give him the opportunity to tell us more. My colleagues and I enjoy hearing the good proposals put forward by the NDP, the next government of Canada. I believe that Canadians watching at home would like to hear more about this. Therefore, I will give my colleague some more time.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law) June 11th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am going to go back to the question posed by my NDP colleague from Trois-Rivières. Although we recognize that this bill is a step in the right direction, my colleague asked why the Conservative government did not go further and protect all animals, thus sending a clear message that the abuse or killing of a companion animal, whether our own or our neighbour's, is unacceptable. The federal government has at its disposal the Criminal Code of Canada, which is outside the provincial realm. I obviously hope that if a bill were brought forward, there would be discussions with the provinces.

Why is the Conservative government not interested in making the abuse or killing of an animal illegal and a Criminal Code offence?

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 June 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the Conservative government raided the employment insurance fund to balance the budget. The budget contains some good measures, such as cutting the tax rate for SMEs from 11% to 9%, which is an NDP idea. However, it also contains bad measures, bad initiatives and bad programs.

I am going to ask a question about unemployment. Given that there are 1,310,000 unemployed workers in Canada, what would an NDP government have done better in terms of creating jobs and ensuring that people can earn a higher salary and improve their quality of life, and also to help unemployed workers who have lost their jobs?

We see that the Conservatives prefer, unfortunately, to restrict access to employment insurance and then raid the fund. Some might even talk about theft. However, I will not do so in the House because that would be unparliamentary language.

What does my NDP colleague think about that?

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord June 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this is my last statement in the House as a member in this 41st Parliament, and I want to take this opportunity to express how proud I am of the work that has been accomplished over the past four years.

Members of Parliament are an essential connection between the regions and Ottawa. I am honoured to have represented the people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. They are the ones who taught me that it is important to work together, united, in defending our common interests, whether they be customs at the Bagotville airport, bullying prevention among our young people, protecting our postal services, crucial funding for our military base or the future of the forestry industry.

That is how we have worked to defend the interests of our region, Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean, for four years. Is this approach not in our very nature? Is it not tied to our roots and to the land we all worked together to conquer and develop?

Over the summer I will continue to be visible in the communities and available to the people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and to serve the public with the objective of promoting the Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean region.

Thank you once again for your confidence, your support and your encouragement. Let us work together to elect a New Democrat government this fall.

Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act June 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, there is going to be an election in the fall. What will the Conservative minister say to his constituents when they criticize this 98th time allocation motion, which is an affront to democracy and Canada's parliamentarians? I am convinced that there will be other such motions before the end of the session.

Will he be able to say to his constituents that he is proud to have adopted so many time allocation motions and cut short speeches and debate? I am convinced that people across Canada are upset by the Conservatives' behaviour with respect to good governance and democracy in the House of Commons.