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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

Seniors March 6th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday I had the honour of introducing in the House my private member's bill, Bill C-480, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (funeral arrangements). This bill would enable seniors receiving the guaranteed income supplement to withdraw a taxable amount of up to $2,500 to pay for funeral arrangements in advance. This amount would not be included in the GIS calculation for the following year and would therefore not affect the income of our most financially vulnerable seniors, while lifting a burden off the shoulders of our seniors and their families.

We in the NDP promised to reduce poverty among our seniors, and we are practising what we preach. I therefore invite all members of the House, from all political parties, to support my bill so that we can work together to reduce poverty among our seniors.

Old Age Security Act February 27th, 2013

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-480, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (funeral arrangements).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my bill today in the House.

I want to begin by thanking my colleague from Pierrefonds—Dollard for seconding my bill.

This bill amends the Old Age Security Act to allow old age security and guaranteed income supplement recipients to withdraw a maximum of $2,500 from an RRSP in order to pay for funeral arrangements in advance.

This sum will still be taxable, but it will be excluded from the calculation of income for the guaranteed income supplement for the following year.

This will enable our seniors who receive the guaranteed income supplement to remove a financial burden from their children while preventing their already modest income from being further diminished. In this way, they can maintain a certain quality of life.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Petitions January 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I also am pleased to table a petition calling on the government to establish a national housing strategy.

The Environment November 8th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, because of bad Conservative policies, only four lakes in Quebec are now protected.

I would reply to my hon. colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel that the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities has even said that he would not go everywhere and into every café to consult people. He believes that consultation with representatives is enough.

Can the minister tell us who in Sorel finds it acceptable that Lac Saint-Pierre is no longer protected, even though it is home to the largest archipelago in the St. Lawrence and the largest heronry in North America?

Petitions November 6th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition calling on the government to restore funding to the Development and Peace organization at 2011 levels.

Petitions November 1st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to present a petition on behalf of citizens of Ontario who are calling on the government to reverse its decision to put an end to the experimental lakes program, because it is an invaluable resource for research in Canada.

Agriculture and Agri-Food October 3rd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have some nerve. The minister claimed that no tainted meat made its way onto grocery store shelves. We now know that was absolutely not true. At the height of the contamination crisis, the minister said that his priority was to deliver meat to the U.S.

Why did the Conservatives choose rhetoric over public safety? Why did they not act sooner?

Municipal Infrastructure October 1st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, for several months now, through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, a growing number of Canadian mayors have been calling for a new agreement with Ottawa in relation to federal infrastructure programs.

I even asked a question regarding this matter last spring. The response I received at the time, as is too often the case with this government, had nothing to do with my question. So I will try again. In the city of Laval, for example, which is represented by me and three of my NDP colleagues, water treatment infrastructure needs to be improved. Furthermore, many other water filtration projects that are much cleaner and more environmentally friendly are waiting for funding for the current program to be renewed so that they can be developed on a larger scale.

I therefore urge the government to listen to our mayors and invest more in our communities instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.

Transboundary Waters Protection Act October 1st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my views regarding the bill before us, Bill C-383, introduced by the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

This bill has to do with our water resources, and as a member of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, I have a special interest in this issue. I am therefore pleased to be able to add my two cents to the debate.

With just one exception, Bill C-383 is identical to Bill C-26, which was introduced by the government in 2010 following its promise to bring in legislation to ban all bulk water transfers or exports from Canadian water basins.

On the positive side, the bill before us today addresses a large gap that existed in the previous bill and was pointed out by the Canadian Water Issues Council, specifically, that Bill C-26 did not address the most plausible threat to Canadian waters: the threat of transfers from a water basin that is neither a boundary nor transboundary water body from Canada into the United States.

This bill would amend the International River Improvements Act to prohibit the issuing of permits for projects that link non-boundary waters to an international river when the purpose of said projects is to increase the annual flow towards the United States. This important change would prohibit the issuing of a permit to build, operate or maintain a canal or pipeline transporting Canadian water to an international river.

Although Bill C-383 does have some strengths and represents a step in the right direction, it is obvious that it does not prohibit all bulk water exports. Consequently, because water is considered a commodity, NAFTA has long been a threat to Canada's sovereignty over water resources.

To counter this threat, in June 2007 the New Democratic Party introduced a motion sponsored by the hard-working and extraordinary member for Burnaby—New Westminster asking the government to initiate talks with its U.S. and Mexican counterparts to exclude water from the scope of NAFTA. This motion was adopted by the House, but the government has not followed up with these countries.

In 2010, the government introduced Bill C-26, which was mentioned earlier. The bill did not progress past first reading.

In 2011, our brilliant colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster raised the issue again with a new motion for a national water strategy.

I hope that Bill C-383 comes to fruition, unlike Bill C-26 and the motions of the member for Burnaby—New Westminster. I hope that this time the government will take Bill C-383 seriously and implement it.

Asbestos September 27th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in this House to support my colleague from Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup and his motion on the government's responsibility for the current state of the asbestos industry in Canada.

A huge debate has been raging over the past few years on the use of asbestos, particularly in Quebec, focusing specifically on the use of chrysotile asbestos, an ore that is proven to be carcinogenic.

Chrysotile is a fibrous, non-flammable mineral that is flexible and resistant to most chemicals and has high tensile strength. This unique combination of characteristics has for decades made it a choice component for lightweight reinforced cement products, friction materials, and high-temperature seals and gaskets, to name just a few. Chrysotile accounts for a huge share, 94%, of the world asbestos market.

Chrysotile has been recognized as a carcinogen for more than three decades now and there are approximately 30 countries in the world that have banned its use, including France in 1997.

In 2011, under this government, when the UN Environment Programme wanted to add chrysotile to the list of 39 chemicals whose industrial use is hazardous, better known as the Rotterdam Convention list of hazardous substances, the program came up against the refusal by the four major chrysotile producers and exporters: Russia, Kyrgyzstan, India and, of course, Canada.

Canada's refusal was ascribed to the fact that this government supported the export of chrysotile to developing countries.

As exporting countries are not required to provide information about the toxicity or safe handling of this hazardous material, this government decided to shift the burden of asbestos exposure to the developing countries.

This all happened while this very government was using millions of dollars from Canadian taxpayers—and guess why—to remove asbestos from public places such as the Parliament buildings and the Prime Minister's residence. This provided another great opportunity for this government to promote Canada's image abroad.

While the government has been dithering, dawdling and procrastinating on this issue, here are some of the solutions that NDP MPs would like to see. First of all, we demand that this government support the addition of chrysotile to the Rotterdam Convention list of hazardous substances. When asbestos is on the list, Canada will be forced to warn asbestos importing countries about its dangers to human health. Second, we demand that the government stop providing financial assistance to the asbestos industry.

Under this government, Canada has sponsored and paid for an impressive 160 trade missions to 60 countries to promote asbestos. If the government had only put the same effort into the manufacturing sector and into maintaining our social programs, Canada's economy would be a lot stronger today.

Finally, we hope this government will set up an industrial restructuring plan for asbestos workers. We want the government to put just as much effort into economic diversification and into redeploying former asbestos workers as it put into promoting asbestos throughout the world. Our regions and our workers are affected and they deserve the same amount of money as the government has invested in promoting asbestos over the past few years, in Canada and abroad. Workers in Canada and Quebec should not have to bear the brunt of this government's callousness.

The NDP's position is supported by the vast majority of people, in addition to being supported by many Canadian professionals, including healthcare professionals and the Canadian Cancer Society, to name just a few.

Recently, the World Health Organization, the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Cancer Society stated that asbestos should be banned in all its forms, as chrysotile is a class A carcinogen.

Finally, Quebec's Premier recently pledged to cancel the $58 million loan guarantee that was meant to revive mining operations in the Jeffrey mine, thereby bringing an end to asbestos mining operations in Quebec.

If Canada wants to continue being a leader on the international stage, we must put international interests before domestic political considerations. We no longer use asbestos in our buildings, and it is not any safer to use it in buildings in other countries. Asbestos is just as carcinogenic in the walls of buildings in developing countries as it is in our own.

The World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization have agreed that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. It is incumbent on the Conservative government to stop tarnishing our international reputation. It must demand that asbestos be added to the Rotterdam Convention list of hazardous substances immediately.

In conclusion, as far back as 2006, internal documents revealed that Health Canada officials agreed that the department’s preferred position would be to add asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention list, as this would be consistent with controlled use. Six years later, this recommendation has not yet been followed by the Conservatives. It is high time that this government do the right thing and call asbestos a dangerous substance, for our health and for everyone's health.