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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was problem.

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

Business of Supply October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is fortunate to have quite a youthful caucus, and a lot of the people in my riding are under the age of 35.

My colleague is also very active in the youth caucus. The regional Conservatives launched a trial balloon in my riding because they really want to persuade people that, in the interest of the economy, it would be best, believe it or not, to get rid of “those damned belugas”.

I hear her. Anyone who looks at me can see that I have quite a few grey hairs. I am no longer in the youth caucus. However, I would like to hear from my colleague who, unlike me, might have another 50 years to live.

How does she feel about living in a country where people say that kind of thing?

Business of Supply October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question. Of course, if one were to read the ruling carefully—and I have also read everything that happened when the evidence was being presented before the Superior Court—it says in black and white that when the proponent was asked to return in a few weeks with a scientific opinion from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' science branch concerning exploratory work, it came back empty-handed. The proponent brought in its own experts, saying that it had an expert present and asking why it was necessary to have an expert opinion from someone at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

When the province told the federal government what had happened, those people should have immediately turned to the science branch to prevent the industry's phantom self-assessment from becoming established from the very beginning of the project. It does not work, and it makes no sense.

Business of Supply October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is odd because I can tell that my colleague is sincere about environmental issues.

He has to hide behind the principle that people expect the process to move forward. In the early stages of drill testing, the process was completely muzzled by the current government. What more does he need in order to conclude that there will be no reliable process?

I know that my colleague was the champion of sustainable development when he was his party's leader. Sustainable development was the main focus of his platform.

I invite my colleague to speak to the press later and give two aspects of the Cacouna oil terminal initiative that would allow us to include it in a sustainable development policy. If he can do that, we will see if he can be consistent. I think it is impossible.

Business of Supply October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take a deep breath and imagine that I am speaking to my eight-year-old son.

We are not anti resource development. We want two fundamental things that have not been done. That is why major national projects will never move forward. They have no common sense.

First, we must ensure that we are getting the maximum value added. The economy must not be entirely focused on natural resources. Having all the eggs in one basket is not good for a modern economy. I hope that Canada's economy will remain modern. That will not be case the case if the Conservatives remain in power for another 10 years, but we will work hard to get rid of them as soon as possible. We need to do processing and to have value added. This means that we need to enforce the best environmental standards. This is the 21st century, and leading experts are predicting environmental crises. We need to do our job incredibly well. For the past seven years, the Conservatives have been doing the opposite of what I just said. It is not complicated.

Business of Supply October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will share my time with my colleague from Halifax.

I have the honour to rise in the House to speak to the motion I put forward today. We are all very concerned—I say “we” because Cacouna is in the riding I have the honour to represent—because this problematic Cacouna oil terminal initiative is taking place in our community. I am doubly concerned about the issue because I am on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, where we tried to act in response to the Conservative government's behaviour. I will talk about that later.

I will quickly read the motion before us because I will organize my next five or six minutes around the main points of the motion.

That, in the opinion of the House, the proposed Port of Gros-Cacouna oil terminal, which will be used for the sole purpose of exporting unprocessed Canadian oil, will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy through the loss of well-paid jobs, will constitute an unacceptable environmental threat to the St. Lawrence ecosystem, including the beluga whale population, and therefore, is not consistent with the principle of sustainable development, and must be rejected.

The first thing that is mentioned in the motion is the notion of an “oil terminal”. What exactly does the oil terminal planned for Cacouna consist of?

The oil terminal is a facility that will have the ability to dock two Suezmax tankers at the same time and load them with oil. That will not happen right in the port. There are plans to build a jetty about 500, 700 or 800 metres out into the river. A sort of second dock will be built there, almost in the middle of the river, where these huge oil tankers with the capacity to carry over 700,00 barrels in transshipments will be able to dock.

The pipeline itself will be able to carry 1.1 million barrels. TransCanada therefore wants to build a port that can hold 75% of the pipeline's capacity, and that oil would be used exclusively for export.

That is why the motion indicates that this project could have a negative impact on the Canadian economy. The more oil sands crude that is not processed in the country, the more our economic activity is focused on the good of a single industry. That puts pressure on the Canadian dollar. Pressure on the Canadian dollar is bad for the manufacturing industry, particularly in Ontario and Quebec. Approximately 400,000 well-paid jobs have been lost in the manufacturing industry in less than six or seven years. The unemployment rate is still relatively decent, but many of those who lost their jobs found precarious part-time jobs and no longer have access to good jobs in the manufacturing industry. Building a pipeline only to export 75% of its contents from a single transit point, a single terminal, is not in keeping with the principles of sustainable development.

Another aspect of the motion deals with the threat to the ecosystem. One issue is the beluga whales. I will come back to that later when I talk about the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans and everything that happened, particularly at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. However, what members need to know is that there are also four other types of endangered marine mammals that regularly visit that zone. This project therefore poses a rather serious threat.

Another very important aspect is that the Baie de l'Isle-Verte National Wildlife Area is just a few kilometres east of the project. Reliable experts, even the most pragmatic, who are not predicting that we will have one major tanker accident and oil spill every other week, say that eventually there will be at least a few minor spills during transshipments

The thing is, if there are even minor spills at low tide during the transshipments, as every study confirms, the Isle-Verte marsh, which is the last of the great saltwater marshes of the southern St. Lawrence, would be completely swamped by diesel, oil or whatever else might be lost during the oil transfer in a matter of two or three hours. That leaves less than three hours to respond.

This is a serious problem. What is more, we cannot bury our heads in the sand. There is no technique for responding in the event of a spill, minor or otherwise, on a frozen surface. The river is covered in six inches to two feet of ice during several months of the year. The oil will freeze in the ice. There is no technique for cleaning up the ice on the St. Lawrence. It is huge.

When the ice breaks up and melts, these large chunks of oil will stick to everything in the river all the way to the Magdalen Islands. There is no response technique to handle a spill on the ice. However, there is ice on our river. If we add on the wind and the current it becomes impossible to manage the slightest spill. Hon. members will agree that these are serious threats to our ecosystem.

Last of all, the motion states that the project is not consistent with the principle of sustainable development. It is estimated that the Port of Cacouna will create about 20 unskilled jobs. The proponent was asked about this during a number of interviews and was unable to say otherwise.

However, the activities at this port would endanger several species of marine mammals. The presence of these marine mammals attracts tourists. Many Europeans and others come to observe them. The direct spinoffs for eastern Quebec amount to over $160 million a year. Thus, we have to consider 20 or so unskilled jobs created for an activity that will threaten direct spinoffs of $160 million in the medium and long term.

When discussing sustainable development, we should not be confronted with such scenarios. On the contrary, we are supposed to ensure that we create value-added jobs with minimal risk to the environment. We should be putting sustainable development first. In the case of the Port of Cacouna, the more we delve into the issue, the more difficult it is to conclude that this project will result in sustainable development.

I would like to talk about the Fisheries and Oceans Canada fiasco. I am a member of the committee, and starting last May, I could see that there was a certain tendency. We made a relatively simple request to meet the department's experts so they could explain to us how they were going to assess the preliminary work. However, we were never able to obtain a shred of evidence from a science branch expert. I told myself that something unacceptable was happening.

The Superior Court demonstrated that the provincial government's biologist repeatedly requested the opinions of experts in the science branch. Unfortunately, the Conservative administration prevented the real marine mammal experts from expressing their opinions on drilling. Instead, the government produced a sort of mathematical calculation in two days that only looks at the distance required to avoid killing the belugas.

The calculation on the habitat and how to ensure the survival of the species at risk was not included in what was sent. The document was not even signed by a marine mammal expert. Mr. Kemp has no specific knowledge in this area. It is absolutely absurd. A Superior Court judge upheld an injunction. Could there be any stronger demonstration?

Locally, this government's series of administrative boondoggles on the issue now stands at seven or eight. About a year ago, Transport Canada pressed to have the port transferred to TransCanada Pipelines right away and without consulting the major stakeholders. That has not happened yet, because many people back home questioned that action. Why did they want to do it all wrong and in 30 days? I thought it was another administrative boondoggle in the making. However, I do not blame the proponent as much as this government's administration, which is completely partisan and obsessed with the oil sector.

I previously talked about the refusals in committee. The muzzling of scientists is now demonstrated by the decision of the Quebec Superior Court. They decided to eliminate a proposed marine protected area, which had been 15 years in the making. What bad judgment. Coincidentally, this proposed protected area included Cacouna.

The list of administrative boondoggles shows that by its very nature, the project cannot achieve sustainable development objectives. In addition, when the Conservatives are in charge, the situation takes on alarming proportions. We cannot let them do this.

Business of Supply October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments. His analysis of the lamentable situation at Fisheries and Oceans is bang on.

However, there is a huge problem within the Liberal Party. Many members knew that none of the scientific opinions deserved to be called that in this government's process. While many of the MPs on our side criticized what was going on and called for a moratorium on drilling, his leader came to eastern Quebec, to Rimouski, the moment the injunction was called for, to tell people that it was a wonderful project that should go ahead right away.

While we were fighting for justice in the case of Fisheries and Oceans Canada experts who were muzzled, his leader was in my region telling people there was no problem. That is the problem with the Liberals.

The Environment October 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the commissioner's opinion is no small matter.

Next Saturday, a public demonstration will be held in Cacouna. Hundreds of people who are concerned about the future of the St. Lawrence will participate in it. Would people be protesting if environmental assessments were credible and were not rigged in advance in favour of the oil companies?

As a result of the consistent incompetence of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the oil port in Cacouna is a complete fiasco.

Will the minister finally listen to Canadians and ask real experts to provide real scientific opinions on this issue? This has been an absolute farce for months.

Agriculture and Agri-Food October 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, October 3, there was an awards ceremony for the 125th Ordre national du mérite agricole competition, which recognizes the excellence and dedication of farmers.

The regional event for the Lower St. Lawrence took place in Rivière-du-Loup. Many agricultural endeavours in Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup were honoured. Here are a few examples: Ferme Jeannicole, in Kamouraska, won the prestigious title of commander of the Ordre national du mérite agricole; Ferme Hoelet, in La Pocatière, came in second place nationally; Ferme Jean Labrie, in Kamouraska, came in second place regionally and third place nationally; and Ferme Flamande, in Saint-Hubert-de-Rivière-du-Loup, won the La Coop fédérée agri-environmental award.

Mr. Speaker, food security is necessary for members of society to be truly happy. We must recognize the excellence of our agricultural workers and producers just as we must ensure that each and every decision we make in the House helps our agricultural businesses thrive.

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my NDP colleague talked about the issue of inequity in his presentation.

I am very troubled by the thought of abandoning six million direct victims in Congo, where rape has been a weapon of war for 10 years. My colleague, who is in international relations, told me that Congo asked Canada for aid and military support three times.

How can we refuse the request for assistance three times, then charge right into another conflict and drop bombs from 10,000 feet?

The Environment September 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is consistent in her inconsistencies. On one hand, she is saying that she respects experts and the environment. On the other, she has been muzzling scientists in the science branch for over five months now and has undone 15 years of work by cancelling the marine protected areas project that, coincidentally, would have included the area off the coast of Cacouna.

Her inconsistency has now reached new heights. The Canada-Quebec working group for the protection of marine areas announced by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans never actually met. Instead of working full time to make it easier for oil companies to carry out their projects, will the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans finally take the protection of the St. Lawrence River seriously?