House of Commons photo

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

Elections Modernization Act May 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, any time we have an electronic system that can be compromised, it is very important the election system itself is kept to a paper system and that outside interference is blocked in every possible way.

Given the nature of the Internet, and net neutrality is a whole discussion we will have in a couple of weeks, it is very hard to block or manage different traffic from different parts of the world. Every effort we can take to achieve that is extraordinarily important for the protection of our democracy.

Elections Modernization Act May 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the member was there for a lot of the discussion we had at committee on the Chief Electoral Officer's report that led to the greatest portion of the bill.

The voter information cards are the only piece of federally issued identification that has people's names and addresses on it, and it is free to everybody. People have to pay taxes to get it. There is no other federal piece of identification that does this. It is important to have a single piece of ID that everyone has access to, and it is the one and only thing that does that.

Regarding consultation, if we want to look at the bill more closely, the best place to do it is at committee. The member for Banff—Airdrie and I can look at it in much greater detail, with somewhat less noise. We can deal with the issues one line at a time and get through it properly.

Elections Modernization Act May 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Don Valley East.

I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-76, the Elections Modernization Act. I have had the privilege of being a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs since I first came to this place. One of the most interesting studies we have conducted so far was the one pertaining to the recommendations of the chief electoral officer.

In the previous Parliament, I was the parliamentary assistant to the critic for democratic reform, namely, the current member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame. I was a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs during its study of Bill C-23, Fair Elections Act. Under the circumstances, it was an odd name, given that the Conservatives worked harder than any other party to destroy the integrity of our elections.

Under Stephen Harper's leadership, the Conservatives won three consecutive election campaigns, specifically in 2006, 2008, and 2011. The Conservatives were found guilty of electoral fraud in the 2006, 2008, and 2011 elections. Clearly, the Conservative Party of Canada has never won an election without cheating, so when the Conservatives introduced a bill on electoral integrity, they knew exactly where the gaps were.

After letting their parliamentary secretary to the prime minister be led out in handcuffs for bypassing election laws, after pleading guilty to the illegal in and out scandal, and after sacrificing a young 22-year-old scapegoat for election crimes committed by the Conservative Party to try to steal several ridings, as part of the robocall scandal, one of the first targets of the Conservative Party was the elections commissioner. They made sure that he would never have the tools he needed to conduct a real investigation.

Bill C-76 changes all that. The elections commissioner will return to the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, who is an officer of Parliament, instead of reporting to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, where there is no officer of Parliament. Once enacted, the act will give the commissioner the power to require testimony or a written return, a power that was eliminated by the Conservatives. Why did Stephen Harper's Conservatives not want the elections commissioner to have that kind of authority, especially since he was responsible for the integrity of our elections?

Integrity is clearly not what the Conservatives were looking for, and given their reaction to this bill, their position has obviously not changed. In the debate on this bill, we keep hearing that the Conservatives have concerns about the creation of a pre-election list of young people, which could be given to political parties. They know that this list is meant for the Chief Electoral Officer and that these names will not be provided to political parties before the individuals turn 18. However, the Conservatives do not want a tool that would help inform young future voters and help them prepare to become citizens and informed voters in our democracy.

The Conservatives are afraid that young people will not vote Conservative. Instead of modernizing their old-school values, or reassessing their attitude towards women, immigrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, the environment, and science, the Conservatives would rather do everything they can to make sure that the younger generation does not have the tools it needs to participate in the democratic process. They refuse to evolve to where society is now.

During the 2011 election campaign, advance polling stations were set up on university campuses. In Guelph, the Conservatives opposed a polling station at the student centre and a young campaign volunteer, who was also a ministerial assistant on Parliament Hill was accused of attempting to steal the ballot box. Those accusations were never proven, but the incident shows how afraid the Conservatives are that young people will get involved.

The Conservatives think that giving young people the opportunity to get involved in elections, as Bill-76 proposes, is an existential threat. For the first time, millennials will outnumber baby boomers.

The Conservatives are not adapting to the new reality. They prefer to shout out “it is not a right” here in the House when we are talking about women making their own decisions about their bodies. That is shameful. Millennials, those of my generation, have had enough of this paternalistic attitude. We find that the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle and his Conservatives have the same attitude.

Again in the 2011 federal election and again in the riding of Guelph, robocalls were made. These calls were bilingual and claimed to be on behalf of Elections Canada. The calls told thousands of voters that the location of their polling station had changed. The goal was to keep people from voting. The federal elections commissioner and his investigators did not have the authority to compel witnesses to testify, so the commissioner had to make agreements with those involved in this subterfuge. As a result, a young man who is unilingual and has no particular technical skills was put in jail for electoral fraud. He was the scapegoat that I mentioned earlier.

Because the investigators lacked authority, the legal process resulted in a completely ridiculous outcome. First of all, they overlooked the campaign's political adviser, who had all the necessary political and technical access and who had created software called “Move My Vote” to determine what to dispute in the 2013 electoral redistribution. This is not to mention the fact that the assistant campaign organizer worked at the store where the burner phone was sold, or the fact that the Conservative Party lawyer was present when the witness statements were taken, rather than the lawyer of the accused or the witness. That is the kind of situation the Fair Elections Act was designed to ensure by undermining the integrity of the investigation process.

However, that was not the only problem the Conservatives wanted to create or even exacerbate. One of Elections Canada's main tasks is to educate voters across Canada on the electoral system and their role in it, and those information campaigns should be entirely impartial to ensure fair elections. The Conservatives, however, had no interest in conducting public information campaigns in schools or newspapers. Voter participation is not in the Conservatives' partisan interest. They did everything they could to undermine it. In the end, voter participation was high, but that was because Canadians were fed up with the lack of integrity.

Because of that, the Conservatives used their integrity bill to change the law and take away Elections Canada's educational role. Going forward, its only role would be to say where, when, and how to vote. That is it. Things were even worse than we thought. On top of taking power away from the Chief Electoral Officer, the Conservatives wanted to muzzle him, just like they muzzled scientists to keep facts from interfering with their agenda.

In addition to dealing with the elections commissioner's workplace and power structure, Bill C-76 will resolve this ridiculous situation created by a government that had no interest at all in protecting democracy. To the Conservatives, electoral integrity meant staying in power.

Going forward, the Chief Electoral Officer will have the right to speak and to perform his rightful educational role. That is why the Conservatives are so afraid of this bill passing and will do everything they can to block it. Much like women's rights, the integrity of our elections is not something the Conservatives care about. Shame on them.

Speaking of shame, let me remind the House that the Conservatives use the Fair Elections Act to take away voters' right to use their voter information card as a piece of ID. That had an immediate and significant impact. An estimated 170,000 people lost the right to vote in 2015 because of that anti-democratic change.

The vast majority of approved pieces of ID are used to confirm a voter's home address and to confirm whether this person has the right to vote and is voting in the correct riding. The voter information card does both of those things. When voters receive their card, it means that they are obviously on the voter's list. This also means that the address is correct, or else they would not have received their card. However, this card is never enough on its own, and it must be used with another piece of ID. Anyone can vote with a health card, for example. Without this card, someone who does not pay the household bills and who does not have a credit card or driver's license has nothing else to confirm his or her address. Once again, this was the objective of Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

If people were not going to vote Conservative, why let them vote at all? That would not help the integrity of a Conservative victory. No one wants that, so the Conservatives prevented Canadian voters from using the best piece of ID available to a large number of them. Integrity, my foot. These people do not have much integrity at all.

I am particularly proud of Bill C-76, since it will allow mail from the Chief Electoral Officer to be used as a valid piece of ID to vote. This makes sense.

The process we embarked on was long and complex. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs worked hard to study each recommendation made by the former chief electoral officer. Of the 130 specific changes in Bill C-76, 109 stem directly from the recommendations in the Chief Electoral Officer's report on the 42nd general election. Furthermore, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs studied most of the recommendations. The others were mostly technical changes requested by the Chief Electoral Officer.

I am proud to support this bill and to support a government whose vision extends beyond the next election to secure the long-term success of our country and our democracy.

Elections Modernization Act May 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague from Trois-Rivières's whole speech. In his introduction and conclusion, he talked about how the House would have to give unanimous consent to change the voting system. A few years ago, the Conservatives introduced the Fair Elections Act, which made changes that undermined Canadian democracy. The Conservatives will never support our attempts to reverse those changes.

Can my colleague reconcile the need to get everyone's support before doing something with the fact that the Conservatives will never support changes that would strengthen democracy in Canada?

Laurentides—Labelle May 11th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, spring is finally here, but its late arrival has caused many riverside residents a lot of stress.

In my riding of Laurentides—Labelle, rivers like the Rouge, Lièvre and Nord rivers have burst their banks, causing considerable damage.

My thoughts are with everyone across the country who is dealing with flooding. It is important to be ready to react in any emergency. On April 14, I got to observe an exercise involving a simulated medical emergency in Amherst. The members of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve 51 Field Ambulance, first responders from Arundel and Amherst, firefighters from the northwest Laurentians fire department, air cadets from 716 Laurentien squadron, and municipal and regional authorities all worked together efficiently and compassionately. It was a privilege for me to see them at work.

No one ever wishes for disasters to happen, but if one does, Laurentides—Labelle is ready.

Rail Transportation April 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are concerned about rail safety. That is why the Minister of Transport launched the rail safety improvement program.

This program improves the safety of our railways and railway crossings and promotes public awareness of rail safety.

Could the minister update Canadians on what progress has been made under this new program and what challenges the government is facing?

Net Neutrality March 27th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I want to applaud the member for Oakville's initiative on bringing forward a motion to defend net neutrality, and it gives me great pride to be able to second this motion.

As has been noted a number of times already, the core concept of net neutrality already exists strongly in Canadian law without being specifically named. It is an important principle.

Net neutrality is a significantly bigger issue than limiting the speed of Netflix, and I am somebody who is quite sensitive to being asked to slow down. It is also a far broader discussion than we give it credit for. I will dive into all of that over the next few minutes and into next month.

At its core, net neutrality means that Internet service providers and the backbone providers that ISPs are connected to do not judge, limit, or control the content, speed, or nature of Internet traffic. Any packet, the basic unit of an Internet connection, coming in is relayed to its destination provided it meets basic security requirements. Net neutrality need not extend to blindly permitting distributed denial of service attacks, for example, nor the forwarding of packets with spoofed headers. Indeed, a DDoS is a third-party attack on neutrality by negatively affecting another service, but I digress.

The point is that if we take away net neutrality, what we take away is the network provider's obligation to pass on a packet without judging it. At its simplest, not having net neutrality means that any ISP can rate-limit, which means selectively slow down a bandwidth-intensive service like Netflix, without affecting the rest of the connection. That is how the big Internet service providers will sell this to us, as a fundamental question of fairness.

It sounds reasonable. Netflix alone represents about 35% of Internet traffic in North America today. It is not, of course, actually reasonable. If an ISP is not capable of sustaining the capacity it has sold someone, it has oversold it. I will come back to that the next time this is up for debate in a few weeks.

Unfortunately, this position by net neutrality-opposing ISPs means that providers are given the right to look at the traffic of individuals, a right they do not currently have except in aggregate. Once they have this right, this right also comes with obligations. ISPs, for example, will no longer be able to claim neutrality if a customer is looking at illegal content. Good, one might say, but no, not necessarily good, and here is why.

Once the ISPs are required to monitor the traffic of individuals, because without neutrality they become effectively required to, because they can no longer claim they could not should they be sued or charged and are also no longer required to be neutral about the transmission of this traffic, the door is wide open for ISPs to decide what we can and cannot do on the Internet. This then becomes a fundamental rights issue.

Without net neutrality, there is nothing stopping, for example, Bell Canada, the country's largest Internet provider, one of three roughly equally large-sized cellphone providers, and the plurality owner of Canada's domestic content creation market, from limiting people's Internet access on their Bell Canada connection or phone to Bell Canada content, which includes CTV news, The Movie Network, Crave TV, the sports network, and so forth, nor preventing them from accessing, say, CBC content. In fact, Bell already does this to an extent. People cannot watch Discovery channel online without a login to either a Bell service or a television provider that subscribes to it. It is clearly keen to have this power.

I am looking forward to finishing this in a few weeks.

Laurentides—Labelle Newsletter March 26th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to announce that the most recent edition of my newsletter was sent to over 69,000 households in Laurentides—Labelle last week. When the House announced that we would soon be able to have our householders printed in colour, I immediately signed up for the pilot project. The newsletter is a way to initiate conversations with constituents, acknowledge the contributions of those who make a difference in the riding, and build a better partnership between my region and the federal government.

I humbly acknowledge the work of my team and the Hill's Printing and Mailing Services. I would particularly like to recognize Samuel St-Amand, Kim Lanctot, and Sara Drouin. Thanks to them, my riding is once again leading the way. The people of Laurentides—Labelle are the first in Canada to receive an improved householder printed in colour. I have already received very positive feedback about this.

Trans Canada Trail February 9th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the pleasure of celebrating the 100% connection of Quebec's section of the Trans Canada Trail. Le P'tit Train du Nord is the section of the trail that crosses the riding of Laurentides—Labelle. It is a roughly 200-km linear park and a source of pride for everyone in my region. Thanks to the Government of Canada's financial contribution to maintaining and improving this essential infrastructure, tens of thousands of locals and tourists enjoy direct access to the largest recreational pathway in the world.

The P'tit train du Nord, its scenery, mountains, rivers, and farms showcase the history of development in the Laurentides region. Today, this section of the Trans Canada Trail is used by hikers, cyclists, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers, and is another reason why the Laurentides—Labelle region shines in Quebec, Canada, and the entire world.

Canadian Heritage February 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the outstanding creators in my riding of Laurentides—Labelle. They deserve assistance to present their works professionally, and our government has made historic investments in arts and culture.

Our government recently made an important announcement about the Centre d'exposition de Mont-Laurier.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage tell the House what is being done to help this important centre continue its work in my riding?