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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was elections.

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

Transportation Modernization Act June 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the bill, for a couple of reasons. As a licensed pilot and a long time trainspotter, it has all my interests in one place.

The railways in this country were built around the concept of building local monopolies. They are spaced out by certain distances for a reason. They were set up that way so that each company would have their territory.

I think it is very important for us to be modernizing it in the way we are doing here, and allowing these interchanging rules to be far improved to increase the competition.

I wonder if the member would agree with that general sentiment.

Holidays Act June 15th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I would seek the consent of the House to see the clock as 6:30 p.m.

Main Estimates, 2017-18 June 14th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, the only thing rich about the record of the Conservatives is their description of it.

In over a century, the Conservatives have never managed to take us from a deficit to a surplus. I am getting tired of hearing that lecture. Virtually all the debt we have in the country, by percentage, is from them. They cannot manage their way out of a Tim Hortons.

Main Estimates, 2017-18 June 14th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I enjoy talking about the Senate, because I think the Senate has an incredible value in our country, especially in its current form, where members are there as members who provide sober second thought. Sobriety does not refer to alcohol. The sober caucus, on that basis, may not have official party status. It is about not having to worry about what they are going to do at the end of their careers, so their decisions can be objective. Therefore, being elected or having their terms limited would completely eliminate any value of the Senate, in my opinion. I wonder if the member agrees with that assessment.

Indian Act June 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would seek the consent of the House to see the clock at midnight.

Business of Supply June 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I did not say the appointment went well; I said the process worked. We saw what happened.

There are always possibilities of changing processes, but the process we have will produce very good results for all appointments going forward.

Business of Supply June 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, in the case of the process the member is discussing, it went to a committee of the House of Commons and the other place. It obviously did not go quite according to plan and that person is not going to be the commissioner, so the process worked quite well.

Business of Supply June 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the opposition because a second standard already exists.

Not every appointment requires the approval of the House of Commons. Only officer of Parliament appointments do. To me that is a very important standard. The appointment of an officer of Parliament is approved by Parliament.

Business of Supply June 13th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Sudbury.

I am pleased to participate in this debate today on a motion to change the rules of the House introduced by a political party that recently fought tooth and nail in defence of the position that the rules of the House should not be amended by way of a motion.

Even though this motion is fundamentally flawed, it gives the House an opportunity to address the question of the role played by officers of Parliament in our system. These individuals must perform crucial and important functions. I want to point out to the House that the expression “officer of Parliament” is also used to refer to the people who report to parliamentarians, which means that they are responsible for the work of Parliament, and that this is what distinguishes them from other senior public servants and officials of Parliament in particular.

In addition, it is useful to ensure that everyone here clearly understands certain fundamental concepts that underlie our discussions today. We must make sure that everyone has the same understanding of the essential facts. For that purpose, I want to put this debate in the relevant broader context it deserves. I want to focus on one very specific aspect, that is, the place held by officers of Parliament in our system of government.

Let me use one example with the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner. It is important to take this big-picture-view because the conflict of interest and ethics commissioner does not operate in a unique legal or procedural environment, nor does the commissioner operate in a vacuum.

The conflict of interest and ethics commissioner is appointed and then performs his or her important role under many of the same conditions as the other agents of Parliament. While each agent of Parliament has a unique mandate, every one of them plays an important role in our democracy. Every one of them has some elements in common that are worth keeping in mind today. They have become important vehicles in support of Parliament's accountability and oversight function. These roles have been established to oversee the exercise of authority by the executive, in other words the Prime Minister, cabinet, and government institutions. It is very clear that they all do precisely that.

For the longest time, there was only one such agent of Parliament, that is, the auditor general, which was established just after Confederation, in 1868. In 1920, Parliament put in place the role of chief electoral officer to ensure an independent body was in place to oversee our elections. It was not until 1970 that the third agent of Parliament was created when the commissioner of official languages was established under the terms of the Official Languages Act of 1969.

To recognize the changing role of information in the government and among citizens, the positions of Privacy Commissioner and Information Commissioner were created in 1983. In 2007, we witnessed the creation of two other positions, that of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner and the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. The Commissioner of Lobbying is the most recent addition to the list of officers of Parliament, having been established in 2008.

While each has a unique set of responsibilities, I have heard this entire group described as “guardians of values.” Each of them is independent from the government of the day. Each of them is mandated to carry out duties assigned by legislation and report to one or both of the Senate and the House of Commons.

Our government recognizes the importance of the work that agents of Parliament do. We recognize the need that they reflect the high standards that Canadians rightly expect.

One key way that our government has demonstrated that recognition is by bringing in a new and rigorous selection process for these positions. We have taken the same approach as we have across other Governor in Council appointments. These appointments are being made through open, transparent, and merit-based approaches.

What does this mean in real terms for officers of Parliament? First of all, there is the application process itself. Notices are posted on the Governor in Council appointments website. The government also publishes a link to that notice in the Canada Gazette while the application period is open. Under the new process, everyone who feels qualified to fill the responsibilities of positions, whether for the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner or any other vacant appointed position, can let their names stand by registering online.

The government is very mindful that we want the best people possible for these important roles. This is why each selection process has its own recruitment strategy. Sometimes an executive search firm may get a contract to help identify a strong pool of potential candidates.

We also sometimes announce the vacancy of a given position to the target communities, such as professional and stakeholder associations, or establish a dialogue with them.

That process eventually helps find a highly competent candidate. However, for the position of Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, after finding a candidate, the government is required to consult with the leader of each recognized party in the house, and the appointment must clearly be approved by a resolution of the House.

We know that, in practice, the person appointed is invited to appear before the appropriate committee, which reviews that person’s qualifications. Parliamentarians therefore have public opportunities to have a say on these important roles.

Only after that, after the appointment is approved by the House of Commons and the Senate, is the officer of Parliament officially appointed by decree.

The government's appointment process for officers of Parliament is open, transparent and merit-based, and the same is true for other Governor in Council appointees.

The Prime Minister personally committed to bringing a new style of leadership and a new tone to Ottawa. He committed to raising the standards of openness and transparency within the government. He committed to adopting a new style of leadership.

Those commitments are very clear in the new processes. They aim to give the most qualified Canadians the opportunity to serve their country by being appointed by the Governor in Council or otherwise.

Those commitments are proof that strict rules increase the trust Canadians have in elected officials and appointees and in the integrity of policies and decisions made in the public interest.

Officers of Parliament are pillars of our democracy. Their role is essential, as they help us, as parliamentarians, to hold the government to account. I think that we have a system that works well, and I think that Canadians can see that it works well.

That is one of the reasons why I feel that this motion is not needed. The proof is there. Public institutions that are more solid, more open, more transparent, and more accountable help the government remain focused on the people that it should be serving. That means better government for Canadians. That is something that I am very proud to defend and to pass on to future generations.

There is something else as well, and I referred to it at the very beginning. We recently proposed an open discussion on modernizing the rules of the House in the Standing Committee on Procedures and House Affairs. We were blocked for more than 80 hours over several weeks, because the opposition was not interested in having that discussion. Now they present a change to the rules through a motion requiring a majority vote, when they said very loud and clear that that was not admissible.

What exactly is the purpose of the motion before us? It begins by replacing Standing Order 111.1. I will quickly read Standing Order 111.1 to show what we would lose:


Officers of Parliament. Referral of the name of the proposed appointee to committee.

(1) Where the government intends to appoint an Officer of Parliament, the Clerk of the House, the Parliamentary Librarian or the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, the name of the proposed appointee shall be deemed referred to the appropriate standing committee, which may consider the appointment during a period of not more than thirty days following the tabling of a document concerning the proposed appointment.

Ratification motion.

(2) Not later than the expiry of the thirty-day period provided for in the present Standing Order, a notice of motion to ratify the appointment shall be put under Routine Proceedings, to be decided without debate or amendment.

The opposition members want to scrap a system in which candidates are referred to appropriate committees with the expertise to assess each candidate as part of their duties and in favour of referral to a small subcommittee made up of just four members, which is itself a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. This subcommittee will not have the expertise to deal with issues involved in appointing officers, but it will have a veto, which will be undemocratic, unlike Parliament's veto power. It will also deprive the other 334 MPs of the right and opportunity to have their say about a particular candidate.

It is easy to see that this motion was not thought through, that it is contrary to the values the NDP champions with respect to the role of this kind of motion, and that it will not improve our appointment system.

Citizenship Act June 12th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I believe you will find great pleasure in the House to see the clock at midnight at this time.