House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Laval—Les Îles (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 20% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Environment September 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is time for this government to agree to study hydraulic fracturing. The problem, however, is that this practice is already taking place. Communities have good reason to be worried about the chemicals being used and the groundwater being contaminated.

Will the minister respect the government's mandate, which is to regulate this practice, instead of simply waiting until new studies are published?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

Whether it is the number of refugees or anything else, nothing justifies such a bill. All it does is punish refugees, people who are already suffering. This bill does nothing constructive. It should target the smugglers, not the refugees.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today because Bill C-4, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act contains a number of elements that truly bother me.

One of those elements is the clause allowing for the detention of a permanent resident or foreign national simply on the basis of reasonable grounds to suspect—and I would like to emphasize the word “suspect”—that the person is inadmissible because of their involvement in serious or organized crime. That could lead to major problems and to various abuses of the system.

First, any refugees arriving here without having been granted status from Citizenship and Immigration Canada—and goodness knows there are plenty of delays—will mandatorily be detained when they arrive. That flies in the face of numerous international conventions signed by Canada, including the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which states the following in subsection 31(1):

The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.

Bill C-4 directly contravenes this article of the convention signed by Canada.

Second, these changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act will give too much discretionary power to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. These changes will allow the minister to proceed with arbitrary detentions. As I mentioned earlier, the government will be able to detain refugees on the simple pretext that they are suspected, but not accused, of criminal activities. There is an important distinction between the two. The government could detain, without valid proof, any refugee who looks suspicious to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. This could obviously lead to serious abuses.

Arbitrary detention also runs counter to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to the Supreme Court of Canada which struck down arbitrary mandatory detention without review of security certificates. Once again, this amendment directly contravenes many international treaties signed by Canada.

The government says that this bill will reduce human trafficking. That is a noble cause and no one opposes the principle. However, the NDP opposes Bill C-4 because these changes concentrate far too much power in the hands of the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. Furthermore, the bill penalizes all refugees who arrive in Canada, but takes no action against the traffickers.

What the NDP would like to do is directly punish the criminals, the traffickers, also called human smugglers. Bill C-4, as currently worded, punishes legitimate refugees and the people who try to help them. The process set out in this bill is vague, arbitrary and clearly discriminatory.

In closing, the current government is actively destroying Canada's fine international reputation, which includes being a country that welcomes immigrants. This must stop.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the comment from the hon. member opposite.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

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

As I said earlier, we are here to ensure that people can negotiate collective agreements, not have ones that are imposed by the government. All we are asking is that the government take the wage clause out and take the lock off the door.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we are working for all workers across Canada. We are not just doing this for the postal workers. And we are doing this because we thought that the government on the other side would act in good faith, take the wage clause out and take the lock off the door.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few moments to wish all Quebeckers a happy national holiday, in particular the people of the riding of Laval—Les Îles, with whom I would really have liked to celebrate tonight, but since the government has prohibited this—we know what is going on, we understand—it will not be possible. They will understand the reason for my absence.

The government decided to extend the work of the House without regard for Quebec MPs or their constituents. It preferred to interfere in the negotiations between the postal workers and Canada Post, by forcing the workers back to work under unacceptable conditions, rather than allowing us to go and celebrate with our constituents.

I am here tonight in order to stand up for the workers of Canada Post who are fighting in good faith to obtain sound working conditions and a negotiated collective agreement. They are faced with the possibility of seeing the government impose salaries that are lower than those that were offered by the employer. I am also here to stand up for all workers who could be facing the same fate because of a government that has no values and does not want to amend its bill.

Before continuing, I would like to specify that unlike Canada Post, which has locked out its employees and deprived the public of an essential service, postal workers never took Canadians hostage. The rotating strikes they held delayed postal delivery by one day at the most. Their goal was to force Canada Post to negotiate. But the employer's reaction was to close the door to negotiation, impose a lockout on its employees and interrupt all mail delivery.

This is a manoeuvre that is putting the most vulnerable people in a difficult if not precarious situation. In spite of the lockout and the threat of legislation imposing a return to work with lower salaries than those proposed by Canada Post, postal workers are continuing to provide mail delivery in my riding. Pension cheques, social assistance cheques and child benefit cheques have been delivered so as to limit the damages. The postal workers are not doing this for money, but out of respect for Canadians who may well depend on those benefits for their subsistence.

I said “respect”, a word that seems to mean nothing to the Conservative government. Government interference and the prospect of special legislation to force postal employees back to work leave the door wide open for the employer, which realizes it no longer has to negotiate in good faith and can hand its dirty work over to the government.

The message to workers is clear: accept the offer of the employer, which is taking away the gains that employees have been able to achieve, not by forcing Canada Post's hand but by bargaining. Today, the government, on whom these workers should be able to rely to stand up and protect them, will impose an even worse settlement on them than Canada Post's offer. It is important to point out that Canada Post is not on the verge of bankruptcy, far from it. It generated nearly $300 million in profits in 2009, and yet it is claiming that it cannot provide its employees with sound working conditions or new employees with fair wages. That is a tough pill to swallow when the corporation pays its CEO almost $500,000, not to mention a performance bonus of more than $150,000, which would climb even higher under this bill. I am certain, by the way, that he still collected his paycheque during the lockout.

Canada Post is a profitable, reliable and indispensable postal service, and contrary to what pro-privatization forces would have us believe, no alternative involving the private sector could ever be adequate.

In addition, the Canadian public does not agree with privatizing a low-cost, high-quality postal service.

I wonder what the government—which is supposed to serve the public and respect its will—does not understand about that.

Finally, I am concerned about the precedent that will be set by this interference. Who will pay the price next time? Unionized workers have every right to expect their contract to be respected. They have every right to expect their employer to negotiate fairly, justly and in good faith. By introducing this bill, the government is opening the door to a dangerous practice that would allow employers to gut worker's rights with the blessing of the House of Commons, or at least one side of the House of Commons.

The Canadian government must set an example in terms of equality, safety and respect for workers. This should be a country that makes its citizens proud and not a land that turns the clock back on the gains made by taxpayers for benefit of company CEOs who already profit from the current system.

Happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day to all French Canadians.

Visas June 8th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I wish to take advantage of my first speech in the House to thank all the people in Laval—Les Îles who voted for me and all the volunteers who worked for me, and to congratulate all my colleagues on their election. Let me add that I am proud to be part of the great NDP family and that I will do everything I can to help families in my riding.

I rise in the House of Commons today to tell the Conservative government that it is high time to relax the laws on obtaining visitor visas. In my riding, as in many others in Canada, families cannot come together for weddings or funerals of loved ones because of the challenges involved in getting a visitor visa.