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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was process.

Last in Parliament January 2024, as Liberal MP for LaSalle—Émard—Verdun (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2021, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2023 January 30th, 2024

Madam Speaker, today, I am stepping down. This is my last speech in the House. I would like to begin by thanking the voters in LaSalle—Émard—Verdun for entrusting me, three times, with the responsibility of representing them in the House.

I am also leaving my academic home, the Faculty of Law at McGill University. Leaving both institutions makes this a very emotional day for me.

Serving as a member, as parliamentary secretary and as Minister of Justice was the pinnacle of my professional career and I loved every minute of it.

That is what I want to talk about with friends today in this place. It is a series of moments that are indelibly etched in my brain and my heart, ranging from laughter to tears and everything in between, from Vancouver to St. John's, from Inuvik to Iqaluit to Nain and around the world in Europe, Asia and South America.

I would like to begin in my riding, LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, with Les Bons Débarras bookstore, where I buy my vinyls, on Wellington street.

Then to St. John's where twice I have managed to get to Fred's Records and fill my bags with many good vinyls, which I would then spin in my office. Everybody knows that Justice 306, as Brian Tobin and Anne McLellan have told us, is the best office on the Hill.

At impromptu gatherings with my team, many of whom are here, such as when we passed the MMP's bill, we would spin some vinyl, have some fun and honour and thank each other for the work that we had done to make those moments special.

There are many humorous moments. I sat for two years as the benchmate to Rodger Cuzner, who is now in the other place, including two Christmas speeches. I will not attribute my sense of humour to Cuzner, because his is quite unique, but it was certainly a wonderful experience.

As a member, I learned rather quickly to remove my earpiece when the member for Rosemont—La Petite‑Patrie had the floor.

I will not forget the first Press Gallery dinner sitting at a table with Rona Ambrose and hearing her speech, and those who were there would remember it well; or driving through Rome with our ambassador and watched the havoc being wreaked by the police escort that we had, I do not have hair but I would not have had after that anyway, and then later that evening going to V.I.P. Pizza, not the finest culinary experience in Rome, but still a good one; or throwing my suitcase in the back of a rented Ford F-150 when we were travelling in north.

There were serious moments too, such as the swearing in at Rideau Hall as a cabinet minister and the swearing in as an MP on three occasions. There was signing a proclamation at Rideau Hall proclaiming Charles the King of Canada, a one-time experience.

I listened to the stories of Italian Canadian families whose grandfathers or great-grandfathers were interned during World War II, realizing that I was the minister of justice and that a previous minister of justice had signed the decree to intern those people. There was working with my Italian Canadian colleagues in the House to get that apology done and attending the memorial unveiling in the riding of the former Speaker in North Bay with the indefatigable Joyce Pillarella.

I met David Milgaard in my office with James Lockyer and promised him that we would create an independent commission to review wrongful convictions. David Milgaard signed my album by the Tragically Hip, Fully Completely, which contains the song Wheat Kings that they wrote about him. Also, his sister Susan was present to announce the tabling of Bill C-40, and I will not be smiling fully until that bill receives royal assent.

This summer, at the G7 in Japan, I realized I was the senior justice minister around the table. I had my first conversation with Attorney General Merrick Garland of the United States. We had finished our agenda, and I had a chance to ask him whether the HBO series on the Unabomber was accurate. Attorney General Garland's voice lit up as he went on for 10 minutes about the accuracy and inaccuracy of the portrayal of the Unabomber case, but his view was generally favourable, and he said it was an important moment in his career.

When I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of International Trade, I went to Namur, in Wallonia, to sell the Canada-Europe free trade agreement.

I was prepared to be the bad cop, as they say. It was fun. The minister was able to arrive a few weeks later to reach an agreement. In the same vein, I was the bad cop with Boeing at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. That was during the time when we had disputes with Boeing. There too, other ministers showed up afterward to make peace.

I had many wonderful moments on the hockey rink. This is Canada, after all, and I still try to lace up my skates, notwithstanding my advanced age. I had a wonderful moment in Gananoque, when a number of us in this House were celebrating the life and memory of our former colleague, the late Gord Brown. I will not forget that, because it was a wonderful non-partisan moment, and I was proud to be part of it.

I took part in a Métis-ITK hockey game, in which my defence partner was 45 years younger than me and one of the best players on the ice. She was fantastic. Another game was our first game in the Ottawa Senators arena against the Conservative Party, when the Liberals got their backsides kicked. There was a game on the ice rink on the Hill for the 150th anniversary celebration against a group of very young and impressive Mohawks from Kahnawake. The result was never in doubt. The only thing I would say that ties those last number of games together was the near complete incompetence of our goaltender, the current Minister of Immigration.

I exchanged puns on Jeopardy and Jeopardy metaphors with Chief Justice Ritu Khullar of Alberta, as well as a previous chief justice, Justice Mary Moreau of Alberta, in our speeches in Edmonton at Chief Justice Khullar's swearing in.

I have a number of memories of walking, such as with the member for Prince Albert and talking about trade, but talking more about our families. I walked with Alex Steinhouse in Yellowknife on a hike. It was absolutely stunning. I walked with Aluki Kotierk and Natan Obed in the hills above Nain. I walked to the Hill every morning from my Ottawa apartment.

I walked across the floor when I first became minister of justice to tell the member for St. Albert—Edmonton that I was going to support his private member's bill on supporting juries. I was proud of that moment, and I still am.

I am proud of some historic moments in this House. For example, we voted unanimously on a bill to outlaw conversion therapy. I will be forever grateful not only to the members of my caucus but also to the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, as well as the member for Calgary Nose Hill, the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka and Erin O'Toole for the work they did to make that unanimous vote a reality. We saved lives that day.

I remember when the then minister of public safety, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, and I sat down with provincial and territorial ministers of justice and public safety ministers to get to a unanimous agreement on bail reform. Not only did we commit to agree on our federal legislation, which is now law, but the provinces also committed to work at their end to make the bail system work better.

There were moments with Black community leadership across Canada on the Black justice strategy. In particular, in Nova Scotia, there was a very real pride in the room from that community because of their leadership on creating the movement toward pre-sentencing reports.

There were many moments with indigenous leaders across Canada, many of whom I now count as close friends. A moment in Williams Lake, at the site of a former residential school, is not something I will ever forget. There, I went into a barn where a number of the children would go, back in the day, and carve their names in the wood.

On the positive side, there is the pride of the Tŝilhqot'in leadership in having established their indigenous title; they used the courts and succeeded. I would meet them annually here in Ottawa and in their offices in the B.C. interior, and I saw the pride.

In Iqaluit, as a guest of President Obed of ITK, I was in the room when Pope Francis heard the stories of sexual abuse directly from survivors or the children of survivors. I saw the reaction of the pope and also, in particular, the reaction of the archbishop who was translating. At a certain point, the pope put his hand on the translator's shoulder because of the difficulty he was having in relaying the words.

There were other momentous moments, such as the House rising for what we thought would be two weeks at the beginning of the pandemic, all the urgent committee work we did during the pandemic, and the occupation and the understanding of the gravity of the Emergencies Act.

These were balanced by lighter moments, such as trying to buy a white suit online so I could represent Canada at the swearing-in of the president of the Dominican Republic. I had to buy two suits and then keep the one that fit. I got on a plane to the Dominican Republic and sat down beside Moises Alou; we talked baseball the whole way down. Another time, I bicycled along the Lachine Canal; I saw the work that we had done as a government on rebuilding the walls of that canal and knew that they were going to be there for my children and my grandchildren. In another moment, I was stopped on Wellington by an older gentleman.

He said to me, “Mr. Lametti, I often see you at Verdun Beach.”

Verdun Beach, in the middle of Wellington Street, is my favourite restaurant with an oyster bar. I had just been outed.

I think of places like Aj's, Shooters, Riccia, Station W, and now Monk Café; of the conversations with my constituents, particularly on Saturday mornings, when I go buy my bread and sandwiches at Bossa; of the statue of Saint Anthony and the time I stood next to it, during the saint's feast day in Ville-Émard with the Italian community.

These are times of a life, and I will cherish them. I thank those people who were involved in making those moments a reality, many of whom are in this room and in the gallery.

I want to underscore that UNDRIP is the future. It will allow us to reset our relationship with indigenous peoples. It is a true road map, a co-developed road map, to reconciliation.

It is a singular moment. Indigenous leaders want to participate in nation building. I have heard this time and time again, that they want to be part of this project Canada and they want their children to have the same opportunities as other non-indigenous kids have had, as I have had.

I am the son of Italian immigrants, who came to this country with no formal education. Because they chose to come to this country, I got to have an outstanding education at Canadian universities and at international universities. Because they made this decision, I got to be a professor at an outstanding law faculty in Canada. I could run to be a member of Parliament and even aspire to be minister of justice.

Indigenous peoples want a share in that dream. UNDRIP is a way for us to make it happen together.

We are many nations in this country. That is a source of strength and understanding as we move forward in the future. This recognition allows us to work on what unites us and to develop and protect languages and culture. This is true for indigenous peoples, as well as for Quebec.

We need to work together. We all understand that protecting and nurturing the French language and culture in North America is very important. We need to work together to ensure they live on and flourish in the future.

That means we need to stop scapegoating the English community in Quebec. People in this community are very bilingual and committed to Quebec; in many cases, they have been there for 300 years.

I have to say that the Charter is not optional, and the preventive use of the Charter suggests that the Charter is optional.

At some point, with everything we have said, we need to understand that constitutional change will be necessary, and we need to prepare for that. We need to be able to disagree with respect, and recent weeks have underscored that. I tried to be only as partisan as I had to be and only as partisan as necessary; I tried not to get personal. I did not always succeed, but I did my best. I think we all need to do our best, especially on social media and in this world where we are moving toward artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence does not exempt us from being human. Our human intellect, our emotions and our empathy will become even more important as AI supplements the more routine forms of intelligence. We cannot let it replace those other human qualities. Our survival as a country and as a species depends on nothing less.

It remains to thank people. I want to thank the Prime Minister for naming me parliamentary secretary and minister of justice.

I thank my colleagues here in the House and, especially, my critics, the members for Fundy Royal, Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, Rivière-du-Nord, and, for medical assistance in dying, the member for Montcalm.

My chiefs of staff, Rachel Doran and Alex Steinhouse, have been fantastic, and my political teams have been outstanding. None of what we achieved could have been done without them, and I thank them.

I thank my constituency teams for their dedication, hard work and service, oftentimes when I was not around much as a minister. In particular, I want to thank Nicole Picher, who has been with me for eight years.

I want to thank other elected officials in my riding at all political levels, and of all political parties, with whom I worked. I want to thank my political association, my volunteers and my donors, who helped me get elected.

My friends kept me grounded. Here in Ottawa, Mélanie Vadeboncoeur and the La Roma gang made sure I stayed humble. I thank my many friends in this place, such as the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, the current Minister of Immigration, the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, the member for Oakville, Catherine McKenna and everybody else who has come through this place and with whom I hope to stay friends.

I thank my friends at McGill and the McGill deans for their support. I thank my ex-wife, Geneviève Saumier, who began this journey with me and with whom I share three wonderful kids; she continues to give me good advice. I thank my children. Perhaps the years away have been hardest on them.

I want to tell André, Gabrielle and Dominique that I love them. I thank them for their patience and devotion to their father.

Last, I have two points: First, kindness is not overrated, especially in a world of AI. We could all stand to be kinder, and we would all be better for it.

Second, this place is not overrated. The Right Hon. Paul Martin has said that you can get more done in five minutes in this place than you can in five years anywhere else. Paul has been a mentor to me. I am a successor in his riding, and he is a friend.

I would like us to prove him right every day.

Petitions January 30th, 2024

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition signed by 514 of my constituents, who are calling for a reduction in the noise associated with the construction of the Champlain Bridge in my riding. This is for the Minister of Infrastructure.

Ian Shugart October 25th, 2023

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with the sad news that Canada has lost a loyal and faithful public servant. Our friend and colleague, Senator Ian Shugart, has left us after a battle with cancer.

Ian was born in Ottawa and educated at Trinity College, U of T, before taking a degree in political economy. Ian cut his political teeth as a policy adviser to two Right Honourables, Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. When the Conservatives were elected to govern in 1984, he first became a policy adviser and then chief of staff to Minister Jake Epp. During this time, he played a pivotal role in historic events, such as the patriation of the Constitution and the development of the charter, and working, among other things, on child care, labour market agreements and the Meech Lake accord.

In 1991, Ian entered the public service, rising to many important roles, successive deputy minister positions, with a substantive impact in many areas, including health, labour, climate and global affairs. Finally, in 2019, he was named by the Prime Minister as the 24th Clerk of the Privy Council. He would serve in this role for two years, marked by the outset of a global pandemic, until his health forced him to step aside. When the situation looked more positive, in 2022, he returned to public service as a senator and with a deserved role at the Munk School.

Ian's public service was punctuated not only by his intellect but also by his practical wisdom. I would add, too, his stability and kindness. As a rookie cabinet minister on some challenging files, I will always appreciate the many kind words from Ian before, after and sometimes during cabinet meetings, whether spoken or in the form of an encouraging note.

On behalf of all Canadians, we are thankful for Ian's dedicated service to this country and to our public institutions. We thank him for his thoughtfulness. To Linda, family and friends, please accept our condolences.

Rest in peace, friend.

Online News Act June 19th, 2023

Madam Speaker, I am tabling, in both official languages, a document entitled “White Paper on the Status of Trans and Gender Diverse People”, written by the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke and Dylana Thompson.

National Arts Day Act June 19th, 2023

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am tabling the government's responses to Questions Nos. 1484 to 1499.

Canada Business Corporations Act June 19th, 2023

I thank the hon. member for having corrected me.

Just to complete that point, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Durham for the leadership that he showed. However, after that, we have seen not just across Canada but around the world a serious rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, laws and measures. It is something, therefore, of increased importance and increased relevance. We need to stand up and show our very colourful colours in standing up for the LGBTQ+ community and standing with them in order that their rights are protected.

Canada Business Corporations Act June 19th, 2023

Mr. Speaker, I share with the hon. member the deep desire to protect all of our citizens and to work around the world so that we protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Canada and around the world, allow them to live in peace and dignity and allow them to flourish as human beings. That is part of the responsibility that we all have.

I was particularly proud to have introduced a bill in this country banning the torture-like practice of conversion therapy and I was proud to have gotten, in a shining moment, unanimous consent in this House. I really want to thank Erin O'Toole for the support that he gave with respect to that bill. That was critically important.

Canada Business Corporations Act June 19th, 2023

Mr. Speaker, I would say that the rise in populism is something the Leader of the Opposition, for example, constantly promotes by either handing out coffee to convoy protesters or using misogynistic hashtags in his publications online. That kind of thing is exactly what people in eastern Europe and others are complaining about.

I am open to debate. I believe debate has to be wide, varied and diverse. However, repeating the same topic and the same dilatory tactics over and over again is not debate by any stretch of the imagination.

What we would like is a focus on the issues, and when the official opposition is ready to do that, we will do that too. However, for the time being, we are going to debate with the NDP and the the Bloc moving forward in good faith, as well as members from the Conservative Party moving forward in good faith. That is what we have to do while others in that party try to slow everything down.

Canada Business Corporations Act June 19th, 2023

Mr. Speaker, I share that frustration, but this bill has been in gestation for a number years with respect to the background work, the research work and the consultation work that have been done on it. There has been a robust committee study of the bill, and there is a widespread degree of support, in substantive terms, for the major provisions in this bill. They cut across party lines. They also cut across governments and levels of government across Canada. Everyone is moving in sync in the same direction.

We need to pass this bill. It will help us in the fight against money laundering, which Canada is sadly becoming a host to. They call it “snow washing”. The bill would help us in that area and in many other areas. As I mentioned before, it would also give us better corporate governance. It is worth the effort to get it through right now.

To be honest, the other side will put up speaker after speaker with the same speaking notes saying the same thing over and over again. That is not debate. Debate is about cut and thrust and actually responding to things that have been said. Repeating the same speech over and over again does not amount to that.

Canada Business Corporations Act June 19th, 2023

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for sharing the stories and narratives from people in her riding. It is very important that we remind ourselves exactly what the impact of obstructionism does in this place.

I have a constituent who constantly texts me about the progress of Bill C-22. It is a bill that I have supported from the beginning. She is living with a disability. She too is waiting for us to get the job done. I have supported the minister proposing that bill in every way I possibly can, formally and informally. It would wipe out a swath of poverty. I am hoping the letter that goes to the Senate will be accepted by the other place so we can put that in place.

I mentioned the example of Glen Assoun a moment ago and Bill C-40, another important bill that I have put forward to correct miscarriages of justice in the Canadian system. They exist; mistakes happen. However, this is a way to correct them more efficiently, more effectively and with greater access. I am sad that Glen Assoun, who worked for this result, did not live to see this bill get through Parliament.

I am hoping that we can eliminate all of these various delays so we can debate, as the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon wants us to do, the substance without all the other tactics that just grind this place to a halt.