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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was riding.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Laurentides—Labelle (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Laurentides—Labelle June 17th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, after years of counterproductive efforts by political parties that only wanted to prove that federalism does not work, or that the federal government is the adversary, we have been an unrivalled federal partner in Laurentides—Labelle.

Half of the 43 municipalities will soon have access to modern high-speed Internet across their territory, and we are well on the way to getting full coverage throughout the riding. Les Pays-d'en-Haut, the only RCM in Quebec without an arena, will finally get its sports centre. Poverty and unemployment are declining. There are more opportunities for families to remain in the region.

In under four years, we have made a difference that has benefited the people of the Laurentians. This fall, we will have to decide whether the federal government is an adversary or a partner of our region. I believe the answer is clear. Together, we will succeed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1 June 5th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, if my friend from Provencher is so convinced that we can cut our way to growth, how is it that his government left the country completely penniless?

Boating Safety June 5th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, my riding, Laurentides—Labelle, has an estimated 10,800 lakes and bodies of water, and many of them are used recreationally during the summer. We are working on a number of issues concerning the management and protection of our lakes, but we hear less about boating safety.

According to the Red Cross, every year there are about 160 boating-related fatalities in Canada.

Can the Minister of Transport talk about what is being done to raise awareness about pleasure craft safety?

Paul William Roberts May 17th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I learned just a few hours ago that one of the most interesting people I have ever met passed away suddenly during the night. Journalist, storyteller, war correspondent, constituent and friend, Paul William Roberts is known for his coverage of the two Iraq wars for Harper's Magazine, as well as his many books, including Empire of the Soul, Journey of the Magi and A War Against Truth.

He was born in Wales, and his career spanned the world, having studied in England and taught in India before working as a producer for both the BBC and the CBC, among others. In 2005, he was the inaugural winner of the PEN Canada Paul Kidd award for courage in journalism.

A humble man, Paul suffered the effects of the many wars he had covered, and about a decade ago, he lost the ability to see. He was felled by a sudden brain hemorrhage last night and was transferred to Sacré-Coeur Hospital in Montreal early this morning to offer his organs for transplant. It should encourage all of us to know that his enormous heart will live on.

To his wife Kara and his kids, my deepest condolences.

Parliament of Canada Act May 3rd, 2019

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-445, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (management and direction of the Parliamentary Protective Service).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a bill that would change subsection 79.55(2) of the Parliament of Canada Act relating to the Parliamentary Protective Service. The act reads, in essence, that “The Director...must be a member of the...[RCMP].” This bill would add the word “not” and mandate that the two Speakers, without outside intervention, would jointly select the director of our integrated security force.

While we appreciate the RCMP's efforts to integrate the security forces, this bill would give the Crown three years to complete the transition back to the House. Nothing in this act would prevent the RCMP from continuing to protect the Prime Minister in the House, nor from calling on the RCMP for backup should the need arise. However, all decisions going forward would belong to the House and Senate rather than to the executive. While it is not a matter for legislation, I hope that this would also allow the designated airspace known as CYR537 to be handed over to the Parliamentary Protective Service.

As I consider this to be, first and foremost, a matter of protecting parliamentary privilege, I ask that this bill be ultimately referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

I thank the member for Hamilton Centre for seconding this bill, demonstrating the cross-party support it will need to move forward.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Public Transit in Mont Tremblant May 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the mayor of Mont-Tremblant, Luc Brisebois, just announced that, as of June 21, the local bus service will be free for everyone all the time. This measure benefits everyone: workers, employers, students, families, seniors, and even tourists.

This will help cut greenhouse gas emissions. It is a measure that shows that economic development and environmental protection can and must go hand in hand. Everything we do, individually as well as collectively, has a significant impact on the fight against climate change. Public transit is one of the best ways to help the environment.

The town of Mont-Tremblant is at the leading edge of rural public transit. By offering it for free, they are sending an even stronger message about what we can do for the future when we are bold enough to fight for it.

To the leaders of Mont-Tremblant and all the current and future bus riders, I say bravo and thank you.

Flooding in Laurentides—Labelle May 2nd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, people across the country are dealing with the impact of climate change. As we know, thousands of people have been hit hard by the flooding in Quebec. For the past two weeks, the riding of Laurentides—Labelles has also been dealing with floods.

We absolutely have to address the issue of cellular communication in rural areas such as Amherst, which had to declare a state of emergency along with other municipalities. Just imagine the flood victims who were isolated, the emergency services that tried to reach them and the worried families, and let us quickly take action before an even more serious crisis occurs.

I also want to tell the people and thousands of volunteers in Montcalm, Piedmont, Ferme-Neuve, Kiamika, Lac-Saguay, Rivière-Rouge, Huberdeau, Val-David, Nominingue and every one of the 43 municipalities in my riding, which have practically all been affected, that the way they have come together and the strength of our communities is remarkable. They deserve our respect, gratitude and support.

Canada April 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it has come to our attention that there is a petition across the United States that calls on Canada to buy Montana for a trillion dollars. While we appreciate their interest, we would like to present our counter-offer.

We will annex Washington state, Oregon, California, New England and enough of New York to get the rest of Niagara Falls and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who, with her values, could be a pretty average Canadian. We will offer, in exchange, to take over Puerto Rico and make it a province, to provide the 74 million new immigrants created by this deal universal free health care, regardless of what they believe or where, and to take Montana.

We believe that this is a fair deal that would also help compensate for our century-old reticence to accept the Turks and Caicos, which was a grave error, we now recognize. In that spirit, if they are not intending to help make Britain great again, we could also make room for Scotland in our Confederation

Natural Resources March 18th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that the metal and mining industry is important for our economy and for our communities across the country, including many municipalities in Laurentides—Labelle. That is why our government is working hard to ensure that this industry continues to create jobs and generate economic growth.

Could the minister tell the House how our government is focusing on innovation, the development of clean technologies and strengthening the regulatory framework to ensure that the exploration and mining sector is prosperous, resilient and sustainable?

Rural Digital Infrastructure February 20th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, in 1983, my parents had an Osborne laptop with a detachable keyboard, a four-inch screen and dual five-and-a-quarter-inch floppy disk drives that could read 90-kilobyte disks.

In 1987, their company, Immeubles Doncaster in Saint-Agathe-des-Monts, got one of the first fax machines in the region. Since Bell Canada did not know quite what to do with this new technology, it gave every company nearly identical fax numbers. One company's fax number was 326-8819, ours was 326-8829, and another company's was 326-8839. I do not know what we would have done if there had been more fax machines.

Around 1988, my father had a Cantel car phone installed in his 1985 Chevette. The phone cost almost as much as the car. It had to be installed semi-permanently in the trunk with an antenna attached to the rear window. We always had the latest technology at home. We got email when it was first introduced to the market by CompuServe in the 1990s. We were able to communicate with other users through a dial-up connection. We had to make a long-distance call to Montreal to get it to work, but it worked. I still have our first family email address memorized. It was 76171.1725@compuserve.com.

Analog cell service was good enough to meet our needs. The signal dropped from time to time, but we could make calls. With our antenna, we could listen to CBC and Radio-Canada radio stations fairly well and watch a few television channels. To change the channel, my father would climb the ladder and turn the antenna with pliers, and we would use two-way radios to tell him when the signal came in.

We lived in a rural area, in Sainte-Lucie-des-Laurentides. That is where I grew up and where I still live today. My family was fully connected to the latest technology. Life was good. At the end of 1994, the digital divide had not yet affected the regions entirely.

Fast forward to 2000, the Internet was still on dial-up. The first satellite services had not yet arrived. I moved to Ontario to study computer science at the University of Guelph. I had learned Linux in high school and was involved in the freeware community. I found Rogers cable high-speed Internet readily available. Bell DSL followed a few years later, and at that time I switched over to a small reseller named Magma Communications. In 2004, I was living in a city where high-speed Internet was available, while Xplornet satellite service was starting up in the regions. My parents subscribed to the service after a year of suffering with Internet through ExpressVu, which used dial-up to send and satellite to receive. The digital divide was huge.

In 2001, my family and I visited my grandfather's childhood home in Turkey. When we arrived at Atatürk Airport, I heard cellphones around me going: dot-dot-dot-dash-dash-dot-dot-dot. I knew morse code, so I wondered what an SMS was and why we did not have them back home. When we returned, my grandfather gave me my first cellphone, a digital analog Qualcomm through Telus.

As I am involved in the world of freeware, as an administrator of IRC networks and a journalist in the sector, I need the power to communicate with colleagues around the world. While everyone was texting internationally, my Telus phone could not send a text outside its own network. When I called customer service, I was told to use the web browser on my phone, which barely worked, and to go the website of the company that provided service to the person to whom I wanted to send a text message, and to use their form.

I did not remain a Telus customer for long. I quickly switched to Microcell, a cell company on the GSM worldwide network, which operated under the name Fido and offered the ability to send and receive texts internationally, except with its competitors in Canada. The problem with Fido was that the service was only available in cities. It was not profitable to install towers in rural areas. When I travelled, I could only communicate in the Toronto and Montreal metropolitan areas.

The digital divide also affected telephone service. In 2003, I purchased a PCMCIA card for my laptop. For $50 a month, I had unlimited Internet access on something called the GPRS platform. It was not quick, but it worked. That service also worked in the U.S. at no additional cost. With that technology, I wrote a little program connecting the maritime GPS in my server in order to create a web page tracking my movements with just a few seconds' delay.

In November 2004, Rogers bought Fido and, for an additional fee, provided service in the regions served by Rogers. After that, the Rogers-Fido GPRS system began cutting out after being connected for precisely 12 minutes, except in the Ottawa area, where it did not cut out. Was that so that the legislators in the capital would not notice? Thus began my mistrust in large telecommunications companies.

In 2006 I attended my brother Jonah and sister-in-law Tracy's wedding in Nairobi. After the wedding, our whole family went on safari. In the middle of the Maasai Mara, cellphones worked properly. That was an “a-ha” moment for me.

By 2006, after the digital shift, the cellular service we had in the Laurentians in the 1980s had almost completely disappeared. We were regressing as the digital divide grew wider.

Today, in 2019, I have boosters on both of my cars. At home, we have a booster on the roof to help us get by. What is more, our wireless Internet is expensive, slow and unreliable.

Many communities in my riding of Laurentides—Labelle still do not have any cell service. Telecommunications companies plan to do away with long-standing pager services, which will no longer exist in Canada by next summer. Dial-up, satellite and wireless Internet is available in the region, but it is slow and unreliable.

There is no obvious solution. As a result of spectrum auctions and spectrum management, small companies and local co-operatives cannot access the cell market to fill in those gaps. What is more, the large corporations do not want to see new stakeholders enter the market, even though they are not interested in resolving the issue themselves.

That is causing major problems. Our economic growth is suffering, young people are leaving and businesses and self-employed workers are reluctant to set up shop in the region. Emergency services have to find creative ways of communicating with first responders, volunteer firefighters.

The situation is critical. The study we are talking about in Motion No. 208 is so urgent that I would ask the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, of which I am a member, not to wait for this motion moved by my colleague from Pontiac to be adopted before beginning its study.

In closing, I would like to read the resolution that I received last week from one of the fire departments in my riding, which urged me to do something about the cell service in the region. They used the example of the Vendée community. Bell Canada is a company that was initially largely funded by the Crown. However, it has completely lost its social conscience. Bell offered to help the community only if the municipality covered 100% of the cost to install a telecommunication tower even though the Bell Canada Act states:

The works of the Company are hereby declared to be works for the general advantage of Canada.

Here is resolution 2019-01-256 in its entirety:

WHEREAS the Northwest Laurentians Fire Department, composed of the territories of the municipalities of the townships of Amherst, Arundel, Huberdeau, La Conception, Lac-Supérieur, La Minerve, Montcalm and Saint-Faustin-Lac—Carré, was created following the signing of an intermunicipal agreement for the organization, operation and administration of a fire service;

WHEREAS the municipality of Amherst, Vendée sector, has been experiencing various problems and deficiencies with cellphone coverage for more than two (2) years;

WHEREAS the pager technology used by firefighters and first responders will no longer be supported as of June;

WHEREAS the only technology that is supported and used by the Fire Department is cellphone technology;

WHEREAS the Vendée sector has close to 1,000 permanent and/or seasonal residents who are being deprived of adequate public safety services;

WHEREAS 80% of the population of Vendée consists of retirees and this demographic is more likely to need emergency services;

WHEREAS the Fire Department has approached Bell Canada and the federal member of Parliament [for Laurentides—Labelle] on this matter;

WHEREAS in 2017 and 2018, the municipality of Amherst approached the federal MP [for Laurentides—Labelle], the then MNA Sylvain Pagé, the department of public safety, the Sûreté du Québec, Bell Canada and the RCM of Laurentides on this matter;

WHEREAS the situation has reached a critical point for public safety for these residents;

THEREFORE it is moved by Steve Perreault, seconded by Richard Pépin, and unanimously resolved by the members present;

THAT the board of directors of the Fire Department support the actions of the municipality of Amherst.

THAT the board of directors call on the federal government, via the member for Laurentides—Labelle...to intercede with the authorities responsible for the public telephone network to require the implementation of cellular service in the Vendée sector by companies operating in this field.

ADOPTED at the meeting of January 17, 2019

We have work to do, and we cannot wait any longer. Companies are putting the lives of my constituents and rural Canadians at risk. That is unacceptable. 5G is not a magic bullet that will fix everything.

We need to take serious action, starting with this study.