House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was languages.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Drummond (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2021, with 11% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Records Act June 4th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech this evening and I thank him for shedding some new light on this debate.

The NDP thinks that this is too little too late. I know my colleague does not agree that this is too little, but we would have preferred an expungement instead of a simple record suspension. It is too late, because the government was in a rush to legalize marijuana and open shops across the country, but it forgot many things, such as prevention, public safety and the fact that the provinces and municipalities were left to deal with difficult situations with no resources. It is also too late because there are just three weeks left in this Parliament. It will be very difficult to properly bring clear legislation to fruition.

Does my colleague agree that it is too late and that the government botched this legislation, for the reasons I mentioned or for any other reasons he can think of?

Natural Resources May 27th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I would like to come back to the fact that the Union des municipalités du Québec is calling on this government to do more to tackle climate change. There is still no policy direction for municipalities, which is essential given that municipalities are at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

The government spent $4.3 billion and nearly $10 billion on top of that to buy an old pipeline, which is an energy source and technology of the past. Those billions of dollars could have been invested in our municipalities, which need to adapt in order to tackle climate change and deal with flooding and forest fires.

Why did the government decide to buy an old pipeline instead of investing in our municipalities?

Natural Resources May 27th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House to speak about the environment. On February 1, I asked the Liberal government a question regarding the scathing report tabled by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, which confirmed what Canadians were thinking all along: the Liberals' purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline was not a good decision.

In addition to making this bad decision, the Liberals overpaid for this aging infrastructure that will only lose value. They invested $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money in obsolete technology, in yesterday's energy. That is the complete opposite of what we need to do to fight climate change, which is to stop subsidizing fossil fuel, as scientists in Canada and around the world are calling for.

The Conservatives like to make claims about environmentalists, which I think is shameful. They forget that environmentalists are not the only ones saying we need to tackle climate change. Every scientist out there, including those in fields such as health and biology, is saying it, so we need to pay attention. We cannot just say lobbyists and interest groups are the only ones who want us to fight climate change. The truth is that this is a scientific fact.

All those people say we need to stop subsidizing oil and gas companies, and what do the Liberals do? Unfortunately, they follow in the Conservatives' footsteps. They keep subsidizing oil and gas companies to the tune of some $2 billion per year, and they bought the Trans Mountain pipeline.

As the Conservatives said earlier, their party wants to move forward. They want to develop what they call an energy corridor. They use that term to make it sound like something good, but what it really means is that they want to build more pipelines and resurrect energy east, an idea the Liberals have not discarded either, actually. That is very worrisome because it flies in the face of Canadians' desire to fight climate change.

Speaking of the environment, I would like to recognize the excellent work of the Saint-Joseph citizens' committee in Drummondville. They have a clean and green neighbourhood project that involves organizing events to raise awareness of the importance of keeping their neighbourhood clean. I commend the residents of this vibrant community and Guillaume Pariseau, chair of the Saint-Joseph citizens' committee, for their excellent work. This is just one example of the wonderful initiatives being undertaken by the people of Drummond, who are doing their part to fight pollution, improve our well-being and help save the environment.

In that respect, we have begun proposing a plan to fight climate change. That plan will continue to be unveiled over the coming weeks. It includes an energy efficiency retrofit program to help fight climate change. Such a program used to exist, but unfortunately the Conservatives cut it and the Liberals did not bring it back, even though it was extremely useful. It worked and was very popular with Canadians. I would like to remind members that buildings are the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. This program would help Canadians save money, have more energy efficient buildings and fight climate change.

Why did the government not make a plan like that and why is it continuing to subsidize fossil fuels, for example by purchasing the Trans Mountain pipeline?

The Environment May 27th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Davenport for her speech. I really appreciate her honesty. She said that many people criticized the Trans Mountain pipeline purchase. Actually, I think the vast majority of Canadians oppose the Liberal government's purchase of Trans Mountain.

Why do they oppose it? They oppose the Trans Mountain purchase because it flies completely in the face of a policy designed to fight climate change and the shift to renewable energy.

How can she vote in favour of a motion to declare a climate emergency when she continues to support a project that is not at all consistent with a climate change plan, namely the purchase of a $4.3-billion pipeline with taxpayer money? Not to mention that it will cost three of four times that much to twin the pipeline.

The Environment May 27th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the discussions and speeches since the early afternoon. The Liberals do not seem to realize that what they are trying to do with one hand, they are destroying with the other.

For example, they are putting a price on carbon. They decided to do what every scientist—not just environmentalists—is saying needs to be done, namely putting a price on carbon. However, they also need to stop giving subsidies to the oil and gas industries, the fossil fuel industries. The Liberals continue to give the fossil fuel industries around $2 billion a year. They also bought the Trans Mountain pipeline to the tune of $4.3 billion. The Liberals are putting a price on carbon, but they are exempting the biggest polluters.

Why are you trying to make a bit of progress on the one hand and then turning around and completely destroying everything you are trying to do? Your plan is not working.

The Environment May 27th, 2019

Madam Speaker, we should remember why we are studying a motion concerning the climate emergency today. Before the government moved this motion, the NDP moved a motion to declare a climate emergency and to take action.

First, we must stop subsidizing the oil and gas industry. Next, we must stop purchases related to Trans Mountain. Finally, we must reconsider the decision to buy this pipeline. That is what we need to do with respect to the climate emergency.

The motion on the climate emergency before us today does not propose any measures. The Liberals are actually proposing to adopt the same measures and the same 2030 targets that Stephen Harper's government did.

I just wanted to mention that this debate on climate emergency is an NDP initiative.

The Environment May 16th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House to talk about the environment. Today I am honoured to talk about the climate emergency.

Recently, students in my riding have participated in marches because they want the Liberal government to take meaningful action against climate change. One thing that is very hard to understand about the Liberal government's approach is the fact that it adopted Stephen Harper's unambitious climate change target of a 30% reduction by 2030. That will not enable us to meet the Paris targets.

What does my colleague have to say about that? Does she believe Canada will not achieve the greenhouse gas reduction targets set out in the Paris Agreement? The member voted against our motion, so I do not think she will meet the targets. The government's climate emergency declaration is therefore worthless and meaningless.

The Environment May 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the members opposite are deliberately turning a blind eye, unfortunately.

The Liberals say they are going to put a price on carbon, but they forget to say that they exempted Canada's major greenhouse gas emitters from their carbon tax plan. This cannot work. Furthermore, the Liberal government continues to give the fossil fuel industry some $3 billion a year in subsidies. It also spent $4.5 billion to buy a pipeline and another $10 billion or so to expand it.

The Liberals then throw hundreds of millions of dollars here and there to combat climate change and they think they are doing a lot. They are not putting their energy into the right places. It is shameful. They are sticking their heads in the sand, unfortunately. They need to do something.

When will they stop sticking their heads in the sand and demand that the major greenhouse gas emitters also pay the carbon tax?

The Environment May 8th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, once again, I have the honour to rise in the House to talk about an extremely important issue: the fight against climate change and climate disruption.

On December 12, world leaders met in Poland for the 24th conference of the parties on climate change. Back then, I asked the Prime Minister a question about the leadership the government needs to show on climate change.

We see more and more young people protesting around the world, even here at home in Quebec and Ottawa. Last week, I was with young people who were protesting on Friday, demanding that the government do more to fight dangerous climate change.

According to a climate change performance report released at COP24, Canada ranks 54th out of 60. It does not get much lower than that. That is unbelievable. It is really appalling, and it shows that we are performing very poorly. Our record is nothing short of disastrous.

In 2015, the Prime Minister said that Canada was back. He was very proud of that. However, he kept the same weak targets as Stephen Harper's Conservatives. It was the same weak reduction target of 30% by 2030. That is not enough. Scientists are saying that we need a reduction target of at least 45% by 2030 to limit the global temperature increase to no more than 1.5°C to 2°C.

Still, lots of good things happened while the Liberal government was busy buying billions of dollars worth of pipelines with taxpayers' money. For example, the young people of Drummond are becoming increasingly vocal about the environment. We must listen to them. Students at Collège Saint-Bernard in Drummondville organized activities for students at their secondary school to raise awareness about how important water is for us. Water is a limited natural resource that we cannot take for granted. I would like to congratulate Eloyse Marcotte, Laurence Bélanger, Danika Ouelette, Ambre Bérenger, Élianne Simard and Marie-Soleil Desrosiers for their fine project. I congratulate them for their civic engagement on the environment. The environment is increasingly top of mind for our youth, and we must listen to them. I congratulate these young people for this great project. These are the types of initiatives we must carry out.

As I was saying, on Monday, a report from a group of UN biodiversity experts was published. This report highlighted once again the decline of our biodiversity. One of the five drivers of the massive decline in biodiversity and species on this planet is climate change. This is yet another example of why we must take much more action on climate change. The government must show some leadership and take all the necessary measures.

This is why we are asking whether the government will finally adopt our plan to bring back the ecoENERGY retrofit homes program and renovate homes across Canada.

Employment Insurance May 7th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am also honoured to rise to speak to this motion.

I am somewhat ambivalent. I am both happy and unhappy to talk about this motion. I am happy because it is important to talk about how the 15 weeks of sickness benefits offered by the EI program are not enough for people to recover. It does not make any sense. It does not make any sense for a person who is ill to have to return to work or be left penniless for weeks when that time is up.

I am also extremely disappointed to have to talk about this motion, which calls for an examination of the situation, when this government has been in office for four years and has still not done anything about this. It really bothers me because, behind this motion, there are people who are suffering. We are talking about people who have been diagnosed with cancer or a mental health problem or people who have to have knee or neck surgery, for example. They sometimes have to be off work for nearly a year. Employment insurance gives them 15 weeks of sickness benefits, but after that, they are left with nothing.

These are people who have sought help and done everything they can, but they are still left with nothing. They come to see us at our offices. Many people have come to ask me how this could be and where that bill came from. One woman by the name of Marie-Hélène Dubé has been working on this issue for a long time. She even worked with our late NDP leader, Jack Layton. She was in this situation herself, and she started a campaign called “15 Weeks to Heal is Not Enough!”. She has worked extremely hard. She has made people aware of this problem and collected 600,000 signatures in 10 years. This has been going on for a long time.

It bothers me that a motion was moved today to study this matter in committee. We do not need to move a motion to study the situation, we need to introduce a bill to resolve it. This problem dates back to 1971. This petition has been signed by 600,000 people.

I continued this fight with constituents. Some of them spoke to me about this problem. For example, Cynthia Lafontaine, a young mother from Drummond, had her life turned upside down when she was diagnosed with spinal cord cancer. She had to undergo surgery on her spinal cord and had to relearn just about everything. She had to learn how to talk and walk again. She had to work on regaining her fine motor skills. She had to do all this, and it took her much more than 15 weeks. After 15 weeks, she was no longer receiving EI sick benefits. She was getting nothing. In addition to being sick, she had no money and was financially stressed. When people are sick, they do not need financial stress on top of everything else.

This issue dates back to 1973, and she has been fighting for this for about a decade. It seems like this should have been resolved by now. It is not as though the Liberals are waking up today after four years and realizing that there is a problem. For years now, my colleagues from Churchill—Keewatinook Aski and Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot have been telling us loud and clear in the House and at committee that something has to be done to move this forward.

What we hear is that the committee is sweeping this under the rug and claiming that it will do it later. Four years later, with the election right around the corner, the government is saying that it is going to study this. That is really disappointing, especially when we think about people like Cynthia Lafontaine and Marie-Hélène Dubé.

I organized a talk on this subject a few months ago because I really wanted to remind people how important and inhumane this situation is. As I was saying earlier, we are not talking about EI sickness benefits, we are talking about human situations. We are talking about people who have experienced this, people who are living in completely unacceptable situations. We need to fix those situations. EI normally provides about 45 weeks of benefits. The same should be given in cases of serious illness.

On the ground, in Drummond, if anyone wants to speak with me or sign a petition, I invite them to come and see me. I really care about this matter, because this problem is affecting real people, and it needs to be fixed.

Speaking of Liberals waking up, I have to say that the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development has been aware of this for some time. In 2016, he told Radio-Canada that he was listening and was aware of the issue. He said the government would continue to ensure that the system serves those who need it most and that his department would be reviewing the cut-off.

That was in 2016. It is now 2019, but nothing has been done. The best the Liberals can do is move a motion to examine this in committee. Is that really the best they can do?

It is not like nothing has been done about this yet. A November 2017 report recommended that the Liberal government close the gaps in the social safety net for people coping with illness. That was a clear finding. The report recommended finding solutions quickly for those who exhaust their 15 weeks of sickness benefits. That study was done in 2017.

Another government survey found that 48% of EI recipients who claim federal sickness benefits are unable to go back to work at the end of the 15 weeks. Half of those who receive EI sickness benefits are unable to return to work.

The Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has already recommended increasing the maximum number of weeks of benefits to 50 weeks.

The 15-week EI program has been around since 1971. Over the past decade, Marie-Hélène Dubé has made the rounds of all the media outlets, from Tout le monde en parle to all the morning shows. She has toured Quebec. She has been to several ridings and met with many MPs. She even took photos with them. A study was done, and a report was tabled in 2017. That report noted that 15 weeks was not enough. Then there was another study in the Senate. After all that time, after four years of a Liberal government, all we are being offered is a committee study.

As I said, 15 weeks is not enough time to heal. People should be entitled to 50 weeks of benefits. Nearly half the people who use federal sickness benefits are unable to return to work when the benefits run out. Unfortunately, as we know, the incidence of cancer is on the rise. At some point in their lives, nearly one in two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer, a disease that unfortunately requires treatment that takes around 52 weeks.

This motion is not enough, and I am calling on the Liberal government to introduce a bill so that this issue can be resolved before the election is called.