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Track Francis

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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is professor.

Liberal MP for Lac-Saint-Louis (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 64% of the vote.

Statements in the House

West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra June 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra on its 30th anniversary. This is a proud milestone for maestro Stewart Grant, the musicians and parent volunteers who have fashioned the orchestra into the musical force it is today.

The orchestra is a pillar of cultural life on Montreal's West Island that gives young musicians the chance to develop their talent and residents an opportunity to attend top-notch classical music concerts.

I have personally enjoyed the orchestra's performances on many occasions. Each time I have been impressed and inspired by its passion, virtuosity and commitment to musical excellence.

In keeping with its mission of providing its young musicians with opportunities for personal and musical growth, the orchestra has many times toured both at home and abroad.

I call on hon. members to join me in wishing maestro Grant and the West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra much success in the future.

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Madam Speaker, as usual, my colleague delivered an excellent speech filled with facts and figures. He gave us a clear picture of how our government is dealing with infrastructure.

I think that what is bothering, surprising, and shocking the opposition is that our government is doing things differently. The Canadian Water and Wastewater Association is happy about the approach we took to infrastructure in our budget. Our approach is both ambitious and cautious. In other words, we will look at asset management before investing in major projects, to see what kinds of repairs our assets require. Then we will move forward. This is a cautious and welcomed approach.

I would like to hear my hon. colleague's thoughts on that.

Criminal Code May 31st, 2016

Madam Speaker, we put a lot of faith in the Supreme Court's opinion, as we should.

Right now, we cannot predict how the Supreme Court will rule if this bill ends up before it. Chances are good that the court will respect the will of the House that is expressed this evening at third reading.

We believe that the bill is consistent with the parameters set out by the court in Carter. We also believe that the court will, to a large extent, respect the will of the House, which is sincerely trying to act in accordance with the court's decision in Carter.

Criminal Code May 31st, 2016

Madam Speaker, I am pleased with the outcome of the debate. I believe that we have had a very comprehensive debate on the issue. I have been here until midnight at least once to listen to the excellent speeches of members from all parties in the House on the issue.

We must not forget that, unlike some legislation debated in the House, this matter is also currently being debated by society at large. This debate is not being held in a vacuum. Not only do members have the opportunity to express their opinions, and as far as I know most have done so, but this debate is also being held in the media, in people's kitchens and in community centres.

Criminal Code May 31st, 2016

I am told that it is the Carter case. We believe, as the Minister of Justice has mentioned on many occasions, that Ms. Carter would have been eligible under the criteria established by the bill. I concur with that opinion and I respect it.

Naturally, there will be differences of opinion about this legislation. I am certain that we have not seen the end of litigation.

Criminal Code May 31st, 2016

Madam Speaker, I am unaware of the specific case mentioned by my colleague.

Criminal Code May 31st, 2016

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Pierrefonds—Dollard.

In this postmodern world of ours, with its tendency at times toward a certain kind of what some might call libertarian relativism, we must continue to believe and affirm that there exist values that we can all agree are objectively good and worth protecting and promoting, values that should inform, motivate, and guide us both individually and collectively. Namely, we must subscribe to the imperative that we as human beings have a duty to support each other in our struggle in this fight for life, as some colleagues have put it, this struggle against the undeniable reality of our finite existence, our mortality. Every moment of life has value. This truth is to be asserted and upheld. This is the prevailing consensus, one that has become deeply rooted and entrenched in society over the course of history. It is also our best instinct. Many of my constituents fear that Bill C-14 would undermine this consensus, this instinct. I understand this fear.

We cannot allow ourselves to fall into indifference, to be quietly seduced by the facile notion found in the well-worn phrase “to each his own”, whereby we agree on everyone's right to choose, but beyond that we do not think it our business to provide reinforcement for the desirable and good choice. When I hear anyone appear to frame the debate on medical assistance in dying as one of pure libertarian choice, I must admit that a little part of me shudders.

After much reflection, I do not believe that Bill C-14 would necessarily lead us down a path to an increasingly permissive and contagious attitude toward self-directed death.

I would like to quote bioethicist Margaret Somerville, someone generally identified as a philosophical conservative on bioethical matters, someone who has written on the dangers of legalized doctor-assisted death:

The bill would legislate these actions as an "exemption" from—an exception to—prosecution for the Criminal Code offences of culpable homicide and assisted suicide that would otherwise be committed. Treating medically assisted dying as an exception will help to ensure, as is essential, that it does not become part of the norm for how Canadians die;

In other words, Bill C-14 would not normalize medically assisted dying as perhaps has occurred in Belgium and the Netherlands, the two most often cited examples of the slippery slope.

Dr. Sommerville goes on to say that:

Recognizing medically assisted dying as an exception also helps to establish that access to it is not a right but rather, under certain conditions, an immunity from prosecution for a criminal offence....

This approach, she further states, “carries an important anti-suicide public health message.”

I would add that the government has taken care to emphasize this message in the bill's preamble, which acknowledges that “suicide is a significant public health issue that can have lasting and harmful effects on individuals, families and communities”.

I am not a doctor who deals with life and death on a daily basis and I have never been at death's door.

Like every one of us here, I am an elected member trying to make the best possible decision in the context of the undeniable reality that the Supreme Court made a unanimous decision in the heart-rending Carter case.

The court's decision requires Parliament to create a new legal framework to regulate a specific aspect of end of life. If we fail to do our jobs now, the result will be a partial legal and regulatory vacuum. To quote the Ontario Hospital Association, if the bill is not passed by June 6, “Assisted dying would be lawful where it is provided in accordance with the parameters established by the Court and provincial regulatory bodies.”

The parameters set out by the court are fairly general. The court did not offer precise prescriptions for what an operative medical assistance in dying framework should look like. It is not the role of the courts to be so prescriptive.

This is not to say that I do not have concerns in voting for this legislation. Absent a Supreme Court ruling, and had the issue been raised once again through a private member's bill, I would very likely not have voted for medical assistance in dying. I have already, in the past, voted against a private member's bill on doctor-assisted suicide.

However, we do have a Supreme Court decision that creates a requirement to act. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health have, in my view, acted wisely in taking a cautious approach to the issue, notwithstanding the excellent work of the special joint committee under the capable and intelligent stewardship of my friend and colleague the member for Don Valley West.

The bill may not be perfect, but I believe it would be a mistake to suggest that it leaves a wide-open field in medically assisted dying, a fear expressed to me by many thoughtful constituents committed in the highest degree to the protection of human life.

Bill C-14 would establish numerous criteria to be met before access to medically assisted dying could be granted. In addition to being 18 years of age, the person must have a grievous and irremediable medical condition that meets four distinct criteria: the illness, disease, or disability must be serious and incurable; the individual must be in an advanced state of irreversible decline; moreover, the illness must be causing enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable; and natural death must be said to be reasonably foreseeable. In addition, the person must make a voluntary request that is free from external pressure and that is the result of informed consent.

The bill also includes a number of safeguards, and the individual must make a request in writing or through another reliable means. If the request is being signed by a proxy, that proxy must be at least 18 years of age and understand the nature of the request. The request must be made after the person has been informed that his or her natural death has become reasonably foreseeable.

The request must be signed and dated before two independent witnesses, and in turn, these witnesses must not consciously be beneficiaries, financial or in any other material way, of the individual making the request, and they must not be directly involved in providing personal care to the person making the request.

Two medical practitioners must provide a written opinion confirming that the person meets the eligibility criteria, and these medical practitioners must be independent. For example, one cannot be a supervisor of the other or a mentor of the other.

Crucially, the person must be informed that he or she has an opportunity to withdraw the request at any time.

All of this said, I am not at all convinced that medical assistance in dying is a serene and dignified phenomenon, even if often depicted in this way. I suspect that complications may arise. This is why it is crucial and to the government's credit that the bill allows for monitoring of medical assistance in dying through detailed reporting.

A few years ago, a handful of parliamentarians, including the members for Kitchener—Conestoga and Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, the former members for Newmarket—Aurora, Guelph, and Windsor—Tecumseh, and myself, wondered about enhancing and improving palliative care in Canada.

We joined the committee on compassionate and palliative care and produced a report. The silver lining in this debate is that palliative care is receiving a degree of attention never before seen in this chamber or in national discourse at large.

It is my sincere hope that, once quality palliative care of the kind provided by the West Island Palliative Care Residence is available through appropriate federal and provincial funding to all Canadians approaching death, this legislation will become somewhat of a relic, and medical assistance in dying will no longer be considered the default option in relieving end of life pain and suffering.

In this regard, I am heartened that, in addition to the government's existing commitment to do more to fund palliative care, the bill makes specific reference to this commitment. The advent of universally available quality palliative care will hopefully one day be seen as the high-water mark in the measure of a truly just society.

Copyright Act May 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, this is wonderful news, and I will be sharing this news with the Low Vision Self-Help Association of the West Island, which has been active for a number of years and has done wonderful work in supporting those with a visual impairment.

My question is more of a technical nature. I understood from the speech that if a work is not available, it would be permissible to unlock the digital lock to allow for transmission of that work. In terms of works that are not electronic, perhaps it could allow unlimited copying.

The minister mentioned that the rules might be different if a publisher actually took this as an incentive to produce a work for the visually impaired. Could the minister comment on how the rules would work in those cases?

Joan Hadrill May 10th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, Montreal's West Island has lost a woman of peace and principle, who was committed to social justice in all its forms. Joan Hadrill lived by the motto: think globally, act locally.

Joan was instrumental in founding WIND, West Islanders for Nuclear Disarmament, and the Montreal chapter of the Raging Grannies. She was a hands-on advocate, selling fair trade coffee and crafts at local events, activities that ultimately led to the establishment of Dix Milles Villages, a West Island fair trade retail outlet.

For her lifetime of service, Joan received numerous awards, including a doctorate in divinity from McGill University, as well as the Quebec Lieutenant Governor's seniors medal. Joan combined principle, resolve, and a faith-based dedication to making the world a better place, with a grace and civility that could not help but make people want to join in and try to do the same.

To Joan's children, Geoff, David, Lesley, and Julia, and to their families, we offer our deepest condolences for the loss of a life well lived in the service of family and community.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1. May 10th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is true that companies need to create jobs and wealth, but the government needs to build trust. The previous Conservative government did not do that.

With regard to the deficit, if the deficit that we announced was any cause for concern, then the financial markets would have reacted negatively. However, they did not react to the announcement of a deficit. Who then is right, the hon. member or the thousands of investors who invest in the financial markets and did not react to the news of a federal budget deficit?