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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was years.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 24% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the consent or approval of the members opposite to wear this small Quebec flag since I am unable to participate in Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

A friend of mine, who worked in a different crown corporation, could not become a permanent employee because of such an “orphan clause”. He had been head researcher in his division for eight years, but he was still waiting to become a permanent employee. That is how ludicrous the situation was. In the end, the workers went on strike and the issue was settled. These orphan clauses lead to absurd situations, like wage reductions for new employees. How do you explain that, for 20 years, a worker hired three years before me will get paid more than me for doing the same job? That would be a two-tier system, as my colleague pointed out. Such a ridiculous situation should never occur. A responsible government should always try to avoid this kind of thing.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Let me begin by correcting something my colleague opposite said. The solution we put forward was to ensure that big companies duly pay their taxes, which are lower than what companies pay in the United States, in order to be competitive, and to make huge investments in SMEs. That is what was suggested and what is needed to create as many jobs as possible in Canada.

To be fair, I suggest that the government move to impose an 18% salary cut for all new Conservative members for the next eight years.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say something about the Fête nationale. Since 1964, no government in this House found a way to prevent the adjournment of proceedings for June 24, Saint-Jean Baptiste Day, which is Quebeckers’ national holiday

To hear the Prime Minister say yesterday that we simply had to vote for the bill if we wanted to go home to celebrate is one of the worst things that I can imagine hearing in this House. This image will stay with me for a long time, and I will make sure that my fellow citizens also remember it in four years’ time.

On the other hand, it was an honour to hear the Leader of the Opposition give such an inspiring speech here yesterday. He gave a rousing retrospective of everything the labour movement has done to achieve a quality of life that is beyond comparison with that of our ancestors. The members opposite need to remember this.

I would like to set the record straight on a a few points. Canada Post is a crown corporation that has posted a profit of $281 million. Just to be clear, this is a profitable crown corporation that has locked out its employees. The last time I closed an small business it was because it was not profitable. When a business is profitable, usually things can be worked out and an agreement can be reached. I have to wonder about the skill of our friends opposite as managers.

Despite what a number of our colleagues opposite have stated, the union’s position is not the result of vicious organizers who are pressuring others. I met with the group of letter carriers in Montmagny, along with their organizer. When I asked who among them was their spokesperson, the organizer did not speak up; the others pointed him out. A woman said they had chosen him because he speaks well. He humbly asked to meet with me. I had just met a monster, a monster of kindness. He was definitely not pressuring these workers.

The 55,000 workers who will be affected by this bill are not temperamental. They are above all parents, citizens and consumers. These 55,000 workers are not being unreasonable.

Consider the fact that they are also consumers. Consider the impact of this decision concerning a crown corporation that is making a profit. Wages will be cut by $800 per year or more for 55,000 consumers. How will this decision help what the members opposite call the economic recovery that they have been talking about since the beginning of this Parliament? As far as the economic recovery goes, if a crown corporation is profitable, it should share its good fortune with its workers in order to really get the economic recovery going.

These workers are also citizens. I am not so sure that our friends opposite remember that. One of our colleagues made the argument that the rotating strikes are affecting public health and safety. Is this some kind of cynicism or desensitization? We are talking about 55,000 workers who will be losing insurance coverage for their prescriptions. They are citizens who also deserve assurances for their health and their future.

They are also parents. Think about the young parents especially who are just starting out with the crown corporation and who are told from the outset that they will have to make do with 18% less, a less generous wage package and more difficult working conditions and that they will have to work longer. These decisions are leaving the parents tired, worn out. That is the impact when a group of workers is seen as simply being temperamental.

I come from the regions. I hope that the broader objective is not to privatize postal services. In the regions, people already have to make do with a small postal outlet very far from home. If the goal is to set up a big postal outlet as you enter Montmagny for 14,000 residents, I hope it does not come to that. If postal services are privatized, it will lead to scenarios just as ridiculous as that. So please let us back off on that.

Contempt and provocation are a way of using events that our friends opposite resort to regularly. Unfortunately, they are practising this kind of politics at the expense of our national holiday.

Canadians and Quebeckers are smart enough to see the strings the government is pulling. They know it is a lockout. They know that this House could have adjourned so we could go home to our ridings for the national holiday. In four years, people will remember. If the government respects people, aboriginal people, seniors and those who need medicines, they should unlock the lockout.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I can see that my colleague sees all the social groups as complementary. The opposite is the government, which sees all social groups as a potential way to manipulate and turn them one against the other.

I would like to hear my colleague talk a little more about how this bill is again pushing that way of seeing society by the government.

Asbestos June 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, India, which is the main importer of asbestos from Canada, has thrown its support behind adding chrysotile asbestos to the Rotterdam convention. India could thereby control the harmful effects of asbestos and guarantee that the risks associated with using this product are clearly identified.

Why is this government putting its energies into opposing a convention that could save lives instead of implementing a plan that would allow asbestos workers to move toward industries of the future?

Supporting Vulnerable Seniors and Strengthening Canada's Economy Act June 15th, 2011

Madam Speaker, we know that roughly $400 million more was needed for pensions to bring all older Canadians to just the average of what they needed.

How could this $400 million have been a threat to Canada's economic action plan? Why can we not manage and budget in a way to ensure that we can bring all of those people out of poverty and have a decent phase 2 of the economic action plan? How can we not afford both?

The Budget June 13th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am talking about the connection between poverty and seniors. Unfortunately, a large percentage of people age 55 and over in the regions are losing their jobs. They are facing significant technological changes and they need help acquiring certain skills so that they can remain in the job market. These people, who are having difficulty reintegrating into the job market, along with those whose pensions will not be indexed to a reasonable level, will find themselves in precarious situations and, yes, there will be even longer lines at the food banks. According to all the information I currently have about my riding, food banks' budgets will not be increased this year.

Allow me to digress for a moment. My predecessor, who was a colleague of the members opposite, was supposed to attend a meeting to confirm $40,000 in funding for Moisson Kamouraska. He forgot to attend the meeting, which was scheduled to take place six months ago. Moisson Kamouraska is still waiting for the $40,000. I hope that this is not representative of the consideration the members opposite give to the needs of food banks.

The Budget June 13th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

Once again, I am going to relate this issue to local endeavours in my riding. I must commend an organization with which I am very familiar, Moisson Kamouraska, for its efforts. Unfortunately, this organization has had to make do with a budget that has remained unchanged for years, despite the fact that more and more people are lining up to ask for food. Food and shelter are basic needs. I am not talking about extras. This situation is clearly unacceptable. It is the result of a lack of intelligent, comprehensive, worthwhile reforms, such as the indexing of pensions to a level that would ensure that seniors are able to buy a sandwich every day rather than just a coffee and an apple, which does not cut it. This lack of vision in many programs is causing more and more people to turn to food banks, which are receiving less funding. Unfortunately, the future is not bright for these people.

The Budget June 13th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity, my first speech in the House, to first greet all my constituents in Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup and to thank them for the trust they placed in me in the recent election.

The splendour of the river, the beauty of the cities and towns, the majestic space of the high plateaus, a rich history, and a long tradition of citizen engagement, technical innovation by our businesses and artistic creation—recognized nationally and sometimes internationally—make my part of the country, I am convinced, one of the best places to live in the entire country and one of the best places to raise a family in North America. I will work to ensure that this is the case for another 20, 50, 100 years. That is a promise.

I must also thank every voter who supported me in the recent election because, in my riding, it was an extremely tight race. As in any situation, even the most difficult, there was an upside: the clear and undeniable demonstration that, in a democracy, every vote counts. I was deeply moved by the young voters who, in most cases, were voting for the first time and who told me that they would vote every time they had the opportunity for the rest of their lives. These accounts strengthened my faith in the future of our democracy.

Finally, I wish to thank my wife. These long weeks of campaigning and the recount would have been extremely difficult without her. Thank you, Marie-Claude.

We are pleased to see that the $2.2 billion for harmonizing the sales tax was included in the latest budget. However, it is very disappointing that popular pressure in an election was required to make this government give Quebec what it was rightfully owed for years.

In more than 3,000 meetings and hundreds of exchanges via electronic media, my constituents shared with me their fear of a Conservative government that would, on the one hand, cut services—their services—and, on the other hand, continue to allow billions of dollars to flow from government coffers to tax havens and tax cuts for big business.

The budget just presented by this government confirms my constituents' worst fears. There is nothing, not even the hint of a plan, to stop the flow of money to tax havens. There are new tax cuts again that will mostly benefit big business. For example, the government gave $1.1 billion to big banks in the last four quarters alone, and this will continue. Our constituents will face billions of dollars in cuts and big business will receive billions of dollars in gifts.

The multinationals have no plans to open a big banking service centre that could create hundreds of jobs in Rivière-du-Loup, Montmagny or La Pocatière. Those billions of dollars are not going to result in significant investment in the regions. So the Conservatives' slogan about “our region in power” lacks credibility and it will certainly become devoid of all meaning in the coming years.

We need to start now to address the numerous challenges that climate change and new technologies are inevitably going to force on our society. In this kind of context, a government should be morally obligated to provide a long-term vision for the future.

In the absence of lasting solutions, and given the half measures this budget proposes, it is impossible to provide reassuring answers to youth or to parents of young children about these major challenges and thus the possibility of a prosperous future.

Let us look at some examples from my riding of Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup. A solid job-creation program that would truly allow entrepreneurs to take a chance at expanding—turning small businesses into medium-sized ones and creating employment—is something that must be done for the regions and for our entrepreneurs. This budget offers very little, only a fraction of what it would take to make a difference.

Back home, in the high plateaus, in the mountains, people are in desperate need of basic education. The only literacy support I found in the budget was a mention of a literacy program for seniors in Yellowknife. That is all. Do not get me wrong; I wish the people of Yellowknife a prosperous future. I wish them nothing but the best, but I have to wonder how a program like that will help the people of Tourville.

The $60 million in assistance over one year for the forestry industry—which I would consider a symbolic amount— completely disregards the huge potential for sustainable development in this industry, which is still struggling to get back on track after the crisis. A plan to set up broadband Internet in all towns, even those in the mountains, is a priority for the immediate future in these regions—not in 4, 8 or 20 years, but now. All this budget calls for is consultations. It is time to take action.

In Rivière-du-Loup, hundreds of workers are watching their pension plan disappear, since it is not protected by the federal government if their employer goes bankrupt or is operating at a loss. Here is what the government has to offer these honest workers, who have contributed to their pension plan for decades. It is very convoluted. I quote:

...accommodations under the pension tax rules for members and retirees [whose rights are not defined, though they have some] of underfunded pension plans that are being wound up due to an employer’s insolvency...

That is an indirect way of saying they will not be protecting Canadians' pensions at any time in the next four years. A tax accommodation to compensate for losing 30 years of contributions to a retirement fund is pretty weak and unacceptable. These are just a few examples of the Conservatives' lack of vision. The foundations of modern society seem to have been forgotten by the members opposite. There are two in particular I wish to underscore.

A tax credit is not a magic bullet. It does not apply to low-income people who pay little to no tax. They also have talented children who deserve to take piano lessons. Tax credits are not going to help develop those talents. Instead, hundreds of millions of dollars need to be spent on basic skills and on marketing renewable energies—not on more studies or trials—or invested in reliable rapid transit that would allow people to travel between Quebec City and Ottawa by train without it taking seven hours.

These things are not short-term losses for the treasury. They are long-term investments to make Canada a society that will still be modern in 10, 20 or 30 years. Because the members opposite are wearing blinders when it comes to these future challenges and because of the regressive way of seeing the world that is apparent throughout this budget, it is impossible for me to support it and contribute to delaying for yet another year the ideas supported by 60% of my fellow Canadians. We must make these ideas a reality to ensure a prosperous future for our children and the children of all Quebeckers and Canadians.