House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was shall.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Pierrefonds—Dollard (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 59% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Budget April 4th, 2017

Yes, Madam Speaker.

My USB key has infinitely more data.

My son, and members will see a pattern here, is also an electrical engineer. He uses a system like Microsoft. He asked me about the image for the save button. It is a floppy disk. He does not know what that is because he has never used one.

That is the rate of change we are living in. That is the speed at which things are happening. I am an electrical engineer trained in this area and I have a hard time keeping up.

When this is happening, we have two courses of action. We can resist change or embrace change.

There are people who always resist technological change. They are called Luddites. “Luddite” comes from the name of Mr. Ned Ludd, who over 240 years ago had smashed what we call stocking frames. These were knitting machines, new machines introduced to automate knitting, and the textile industry picked them up. He was against automation, because it was going to cost him his job.

This is where we find ourselves. We either embrace technology and move forward, or we fight it.

Now, Canadians embrace technology. If we look at the rate of usage, say on the Internet, eight out of 10 adult Canadians are on the Internet regularly, once a day. In fact, Canadians lead the entire world in the amount of time they spend on the Internet. If we look at things today like non-cash payments, cashless payments, whether it be debit cards, credit cards, or online payments, again Canadians are in the top two or three in the world.

Canadians see and understand this need, and they embrace technology. We understand this, too. Our government understands that we must embrace technology. That leads me to our innovation budget.

To embrace technology is to understand that the rate of change is constant. There is the example I gave about changes in my father's career, in my career, and in my son's electronic engineering career. It means we need lifelong learning.

We have to make a commitment to always be learning. This is why I am so excited about this budget. It makes a very strong and clear commitment to help Canadians constantly learn. It starts with this phenomenal investment of $2.7 billion over the next six years into the labour market transfer agreements. This means people will be able to upgrade their skills. They will be able to gain experience. They will be able to start a business and help plan their careers. It is a phenomenal amount of investment to ensure that they remain up to date.

We are going to create a new organization for skills gaps. We are going to be looking at where the needs are from companies and we are going to be looking at where the people should be studying, and put them together. We have people looking for work and we have companies looking for people. We need to make sure they share those skill sets.

We are going to help adults return to school. We are going to do this by looking at new ways to support them. If people are part-time students, we are going to give them access to funds. If people have dependants, we are going to help so that they can go back to school and gain that experience. If, for example, people are receiving employment insurance and find themselves needing to upgrade their skills, they will no longer be in a conflict of interest. They will be able to continue to get their employment insurance and upgrade their skills at the same time.

We are going to invest in co-operative training, a lot more. We are going to seek to put, maybe 10,000 more positions for co-operative training, so that people not only learn from books but they get the experience hands on, working in the field.

Finally, we are going to do something that is particularly close to my heart. We are going to teach children digital skills. We are going to teach them to code. This is close to my heart, because our government underwent a series of consultations. At some point we were criticized for doing too many consultations, but regardless, we did a lot of them.

At one of my consultations on innovation, we did a round table. At the end of two hours of talk, I asked everyone at the table if they could give one message to send to the minister, what would it be. One fellow said, “Teach kids to code. That is it. Do not write anything else. Just teach kids to code.” I wrote it down. I sent it up, and sure enough I was particularly pleased to see in this budget a reference to teaching kids to code and an investment of $50 million to ensure that from kindergarten right up to grade 12, they are going to learn this new language. They are going to have the resources to get that done.

If we look at the ensemble of these innovation training programs, we see that we are capturing adults who need to be retrained. We are capturing older people who have been in the workforce and are maybe on unemployment and need to get back into the workforce. We are going to help people who need to get experience by helping them with their co-operative training. We are going to help young people.

We have an ensemble of products to help make sure that Canadians have access to innovation. That is a fundamental aspect of moving forward in the innovation economy.

The second thing we are going to do is help business innovate. Again, we have brought in a whole platform of programs to help our companies be more successful in this world.

What are we going to do? We are going to support superclusters with an investment of $950 million in these high-tech areas to ensure that Canadians are always leading in specific areas of high tech.

We are going to put a lot more money into venture capital. As new companies are formed and need to be financed, we are going to put $400 million toward financing new capital.

We are going to put money into an innovation program. Right now, there are so many programs out there it is hard sometimes to find one's way. We are going to consolidate them, simplify them, and make it easy for our businesses to find these innovative products.

Finally, we are going to invest in clean tech, which is another great opportunity for the future.

As members can see, we live in a world of constant change. We live in a world where what we know today will have to be augmented or learned upon. I have seen that in my own career. My father has seen it, and my son will see it. Each of our careers as electronics engineers will change.

Our commitment to ensuring that Canadians are up to speed and have access to education, in whatever form they need it, and our commitment to helping businesses innovate will ensure that Canadians have prosperity for years to come.

The Budget April 4th, 2017

Madam Speaker, before I begin, I would like you to know that I will share my time with the dynamic member for Shefford.

We live in a time of amazing change. The rate of change that we see in our society is, quite frankly, mind-boggling. We have supercomputers. It is an era of big data. There is artificial intelligence which now rivals or can surpass human intelligence in so many functions. This all started right after the Second World War. In 1947, William Shockley, along with his team of scientists at Bell Labs, invented the first transistor. That small invention 70 years ago has set us on a course that has not stopped, and will not stop for a long time.

My father is an electrical engineer. He told me that the first computers he worked on would fill a room. He would need all kinds of fans to cool down the systems and the amount of electricity that was drawn was incredible. Today, my cellphone has infinitely more computing power than the computers my father worked on had.

I, too, am an electrical engineer. I remember that at my first job, we had to buy a hard disk. This was a big expense. It had to sit underneath my desk it was so big. We would save our engineering drawings on it. Today, for example, this USB key which someone gave me has three or four times its—

Attack on the Parliament of the United Kingdom March 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that we learned of today's incident at the parliament of the United Kingdom. It was only last week that I and a delegation of colleagues travelled to London to reaffirm the importance of our long-standing partnership.

An attack on parliament is an attack on democracy itself. As members of the House know all too well, the democratic institutions of government can be targeted by those who seek to strike fear into the hearts and minds of our citizens.

While reports are still coming in and details continue to be confirmed, we strongly condemn violence in any form. Canada and the United Kingdom are close friends and allies. We have a shared history, and many of us are bound by family ties.

As chair of the Canada-United Kingdom Inter-Parliamentary Association, and on behalf of all members of the House, I would like to share our thoughts and prayers with the British people, as well as with our colleagues and friends from the British parliament. We stand with them.

Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination March 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is particularly fitting that we are debating Motion No. 103 today, on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Motion No. 103 seeks to eliminate racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia.

When we speak about the tragedy that occurred in Quebec City, an unthinkable act of terrorism, we could blame a young man with mental health problems, the media, some of our own fellow citizens who spread intolerance, or a global narrative that accuses a single group of causing all our problems, but we would be wrong.

Each one of us must bear a small part of that blame, because we have all been caught in the trap of describing a human being as the other, distinct from ourselves. We have all heard intolerant speech without saying a word. We have all stood silent when a fellow citizen’s identity—gay, Black, Jewish or Muslim—was used as a weapon against them.

By staying silent, we contributed to a climate that made this hate crime that occurred here possible. We cannot remain silent in the face of discrimination.

Motion 103 asks the government to undertake a study to combat systemic racism and religious discrimination including lslamophobia.

According to Statistics Canada, Jews are the people most targeted for their religion when it comes to hate crimes. Sadly, I have seen this first hand in my own riding of Pierrefonds—Dollard. A local synagogue, the Gutnick Mazal Jewish Centre, was defaced with hateful graffiti last summer. When that happened, I reached out to Rabbi Yarmush to let him know that our government and the whole of our community stood with him in condemning this cowardly act.

The year before, during my election campaign, as I was driving home at the end of a night I passed one of my posters that was defaced with a swastika. I did not have any clippers with me to take that poster down, so I called my campaign manager and asked him to take it down first thing the next morning. However, when he got there, the poster was already removed. That is when I first learned about this incredible young man, Corey Fleischer. Corey has made it part of his life's work to take down hateful graffiti in any form, whenever and wherever it shows up, in Montreal. Whether it is a synagogue, a mosque, or a church, people know they can call Corey Fleischer and he will show up and deal with it. My heart is warmed to know that this young man is out there.

However, there is much more work to be done.

When it comes to hate crimes, the rate of crimes against Muslims has more than doubled over the last three years. As we saw with the tragic events that took place in Quebec City, Islamophobia can have horrific consequences.

However, growing Islamophobia did not rise up in a bubble. There are extremists who commit hateful crimes, terrorist crimes in the name of Islam and their actions always make the news. This in turn is seized on by certain individuals who demonize an entire people, and who sow the seeds of fear all in an effort to gain political power.

After the massacre in Quebec City, I attended a number of vigils that were held in solidarity with the victims, the families, and the Muslim community at large. At one of those vigils, I met the widow of one of the murdered men. That lady was completely deflated, crushed, and could not look me in the face. She has a baby and a toddler, two young boys who will never know their father. She was surrounded but she was alone, because she will carry the full weight of that hateful crime for the rest of her life.

There were no words I could say that would make a difference. However, words do make a difference. Words of hate have an impact. Hateful words were said over and over again until they incarnated themselves in the weak mind of a young man with hate in his heart, and that young man went to a mosque and murdered six men who were guilty simply of praying.

There are those who will not support the motion because it contains a word they do not like, Islamophobia. There are those who will not support the motion because it does not contain a word they want, or a phrase, or a comma or a sentence. There are those who say the motion will introduce sharia law or will curtail free speech. This is completely untrue.

We can argue about a word or a comma. We can give ourselves any number of reasons for not speaking out, for not taking action, or for voting against this motion. If we do nothing, we do not have to worry because we will not feel the burden of this crime. That young widowed lady will carry all that weight for the rest of her life, and that of her children's. She carries the load of that hateful crime.

Therefore, I ask all members in the House to stand together as leaders of our nation and support this important motion. More important, I ask all Canadians to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other. I ask that we do not allow ourselves to be divided along racial or religious lines. I ask that we all stand together as one nation.

International Day of Forests March 21st, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day of Forests. Protecting our forests is crucial, and this begins with the environment. Forests are the lungs of the earth, and they provide habitat for countless forms of life.

There is a wonderful parable by Dr. Seuss, called The Lorax. In it, the Lorax says, “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues”.

Today, I encourage all Canadians to speak for the trees through their actions: plant a tree, donate to a charity, or pick up a piece of litter. Finally, take a moment to go for a walk in the woods and contemplate how we are all one with nature.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act March 8th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting challenge, because this is a bill that has to balance public interests, privacy, and security. I understand that our allies, the Five Eyes, have similar committees. Can the member speak to how the balance has been reached between public security and privacy?

Founders' Day February 22nd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, today is Founders' Day. Around the world we are celebrating the life of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell the founders of the Scouting and Guiding movements.

Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are also celebrating World Thinking Day. This year's theme is “Grow”, as they look to expand the global reach of their sisterhood.

As a member of the scouting movement, I can attest to the positive impact scouting has had on my life. As per its motto, it has taught me to always be prepared. It has made me an environmentalist, not out of fear but out of respect for the wonder and beauty of our natural world. It has taught me to set goals and to work to achieve them. To this day, one of my proudest achievements is my Chief Scouts Award.

I encourage all families to support the Scouting and Guiding movement. I invite parents to consider signing up their children for Scouts or Guides.

Black History Month February 17th, 2017

Madam Speaker, over 50 years ago, a young lady, a black immigrant to Canada, was denied a job because of her race. When that happened, she went to court. Her case would take over 12 years to be settled, and when it was done, the perpetrators were fined the princely sum of $25 dollars.

However, her case was never about money. No, it would be the first case in Canadian history that would be fought and won against workplace discrimination. After that, it would no longer be legal in Canada to deny someone a job simply because of the colour of their skin.

I am very proud to say that this lady, with an indomitable spirit, is my mother, Gloria Leon Baylis. Her story is part of my personal history. It is part of black history. It is a part of Canadian history.

Formaldehyde Emissions February 16th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier in the debate I made a comment toward the member for Calgary Forest Lawn, which I feel was inappropriate. I would like to retract that and apologize.

Business of Supply February 16th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I speak French and I did not understand a word. Unlike members on the other side, I need to understand what I'm voting on.