House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Brossard—La Prairie (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 25% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Petitions October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege to rise today to present about a hundred petitions signed by people from my riding of Brossard—La Prairie. These petitions deal with the cuts to Canada Post's services. The petitioners are calling on the government to reject Canada Post's plan for reduced service and to explore other options to modernize the crown corporation's business plan. They know that this will affect many Canadians, including seniors and people with reduced mobility.

Rail Transportation October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this is how it is. The minister continues to make promises, but nothing concrete has been done since the Lac-Mégantic disaster that would instill confidence in Canadians.

Hundreds of accidents are not being reported and safety plans are not carefully followed. Despite all this, the minister refuses to take action.

Why does the minister not immediately start imposing heavy fines on the offending companies?

Rail Transportation October 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the government continues to allow the rail industry to regulate itself.

How can we trust this government when the Transportation Safety Board believes that it has proven incapable of monitoring the industry?

Recently, we learned that 254 accidents were not reported, and all the minister is doing is saying that she is not happy.

Will the minister finally increase the number of inspectors and impose heavy fines on the offending companies?

Motor Vehicle Safety Act October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I agree that we have to move forward and I agree that we have to look at all the evidence. Again, being on the transport committee, I understand how important it is to look at bills and to hear from witnesses and to understand what can be done and how it helps.

If we can move forward and listen to all the witnesses who come before the committee, then we can make a decision on this. To be honest, if we look at what is being done in the U.K., Japan or the European Union, with politicians who have gone forward and made side guards mandatory, the example is already there. They did a study also, but I agree we do have to look at this and we do have to listen to witnesses.

I am happy to hear that the member will support the bill so that we can study it at committee.

Motor Vehicle Safety Act October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for his question and for his work.

The studies are clear when there is a collision on the side of a truck. It's 61% and that came from a U.K. study. We are talking about saving so many lives.

What happens at the front end is a question of sharing the road, and I think that is very true. However, it is important that when we talk about safety, there are a lot of things that we can do to make sure that our roads are safer, and that our cyclists and pedestrians are safer.

We are talking about a specific thing: side guards on heavy trucks. We know that they do save lives. It is not just me saying this, it is from the study I mentioned and also the coroners from Ontario and Quebec who have looked at this. They know more than I, and they have looked at what happens on the ground. Their recommendation is to have mandatory side guards. I think we should listen.

Motor Vehicle Safety Act October 28th, 2014

moved that Bill C-603, An Act to amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (vehicle side guards), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to introduce my first bill since I was elected, that is, since the beginning of my short career so far as an MP. My bill, Bill C-603, is being seconded by my colleague from Parkdale—High Park. This bill is very important to me, because unfortunately, too many pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists have been killed in collisions with heavy trucks.

This past summer was no different. One such death that really shocked and upset the people of Montreal was that of Mathilde Blais, which reminded us that these deaths can be prevented. The Quebec coroner's report clearly stated that her death was preventable. It is shocking. I also heard what her family had to say. It is extremely upsetting when you know that measures exist specifically to save lives.

This bill would make side guards mandatory on heavy trucks. These side guards prevent cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists from being pulled under the wheels of the vehicle. A number of studies have already proven how effective side guards are. For example, there was a study conducted in the United Kingdom in 2005.

A study from the United Kingdom found that side guards reduced the number of deaths by 61% in accidents where cyclists hit the side of a truck. More generally, when cyclists are involved in an accident with heavy trucks, side guards help to reduce rates of death and injury by 5.7% and 13.2%.

We can save lives. Studies have proven this. I keep mentioning studies because the government said that it would not introduce the bill. However, people have died, and there have been reports, including the Ontario coroner's report from 2012, which reiterates a recommendation made in 1998 for the introduction of mandatory side guards on heavy trucks to save lives and ensure better public safety.

It is difficult for me to understand why the government did not take action.

I will try to stay calm and avoid attacking the government. In this case, what we can do here as members of Parliament and members of this House is to force the government to take action on an issue that is important to us. That is why this is a private member's bill. It is important for the people watching us today to understand that every member here can choose how to vote on a bill that will save lives.

As I said, there are other studies. I have already mentioned the Ontario coroner's review. Following the death of Mathilde Blais this summer, Quebec's coroner took another look at the situation and produced a report. The young cyclist was run over by a heavy truck. The report contains the striking assertion that the death was avoidable.

I asked the government questions about these measures and why it was not taking action. Recently, the government said that the provinces could bring their own legislation on this, that they could take action. True, they can, but the federal government has jurisdiction too. We are talking about a federal law. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act, a federal law, is an act to regulate the manufacture and importation of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to reduce the risk of death, injury and damage to property and the environment.

The point I want to make here today is that we can take action at the federal level.

For those who are still wondering why we should take action, let us look at what is happening elsewhere. I invite my colleagues to look at what happened in the European Union. In 1989, almost 25 years ago, the European Union made side guards mandatory. It did its homework and studied the issue. European Union countries know that side guards save lives. That is why European politicians made them mandatory.

We can also look at the United Kingdom. I mentioned the study showing that once side guards became mandatory, there were fewer deaths and serious accidents. Japan is another place where these measures are mandatory.

We do not have to look that far. We can look at what is happening here in Canada. The government says that the provinces can take action. Well, they have. Newfoundland and Labrador has equipped its own vehicles with side guards. In Quebec, more specifically following the deaths of a number of people in Montreal, the City of Westmount pushed to have side guards installed on all city-owned heavy trucks. This is also the case for the Saint-Laurent borough and Mayor DeSousa. They moved forward with this measure because they know for a fact that it is worthwhile. This can save lives. We can truly ensure that our loved ones are safe.

I can also talk about a very touching case.

I will read the story of Jessica Holman-Price.

On December 19, 2005, 21-year-old Jessica Holman-Price lost her life while preventing her 10-year-old brother from being crushed by the wheels of a snow removal truck in Montreal. The two were standing on a snowbank at a busy intersection waiting to cross the street. When the light turned green, the truck came around the corner and caught the edge of the mound, causing the boy to slip under the vehicle. Jessica reached for him but she too lost her footing and slid under the wheels of the truck. In a split second, she managed to push her brother out of harm's way before the massive truck fatally injured her.

I had the chance to meet with Jessica's mother, Ms. Jeannette Holman-Price. Since Jessica's loss she has been campaigning very hard. To be honest, I found her courage and her strength so powerful; it really moved me.

As members of Parliament we have to listen to the people who are close to the tragedy. They have have been calling for us to act for a long time.

This bill has been in the works for many years. I am very proud to be able to debate it today, but I would like my colleagues to understand what Jessica's mother is calling for.

I also would like to thank her. She has given me a lot of strength in terms of how determined she is and how important this is to her. She has shown a lot of courage in explaining, time and time again, the story of Jessica so that we here in Parliament would listen to her and understand that we can act and we can do something.

Again, that is one of the reasons I got into politics. It is because I know we can change things. Sometimes we wonder what we can do when we have a majority government. In this case, and I am calling on all my colleagues, we can ask the government to act. The government must be forced to act, because there is a practical solution.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of victims. This is not an attack on a group, and is not in any way an attack on truckers. We are simply saying that there are devices that can help people. It was difficult in the beginning, when people were talking about seat belts. Why pay more for seat belts and airbags? These are safety measures the government can adopt by changing the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. It can raise the standards in order to save lives.

Much has been said about what can be done to move things forward. Today, we have a very practical bill, and I invite all my colleagues to read it. This very straightforward bill, which is just a few pages in length, merely changes a definition in order to put measures in place that protect people’s lives.

The Quebec coroner and the Ontario coroner, who have seen the situation and have carried out studies, are constantly making recommendations on the subject. I therefore do not understand why the government does not act. I heard the government speak a few times about what is happening in the United States, saying it was going to wait and see what happened.

However, the U.S. equivalent of the Transportation Safety Board has also studied this and recommends that side guards be installed on trucks. It even says that this can protect not only pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, but vehicle passengers as well.

Moreover, this measure, which is designed to save lives and help people, costs the government nothing. Because we are at second reading, we may hear the cost argument. However, the people from the provincial trucking association, the Association du camionnage du Québec, told me that that argument does not hold water, because everyone agrees that a life has no price. We can save lives.

As for the cost argument, studies have shown that side guards reduce gasoline consumption costs for some trucks. Side guards are already being seen on trucks on the highways. Why? Because truck drivers are saving money and side guards are good for the environment. It costs between $500 and $3,000 to install side guards. According to some studies and manufacturers, the cost can be recovered in less than two years.

At first, it was said that the studies were inconclusive, but that is no longer so. When we debate this bill, I invite my colleagues—especially those who oppose it—to consider the fact that other countries, including those of the European Union, as well as the United Kingdom and Japan, have taken action on side guards; some municipalities have as well. Clearly, action is needed, and the time for action is now.

I repeat: we must have leadership and we must have action. Every year, when a death occurs, the issue of side guards arises. When there are accidents involving a heavy truck and cyclists or pedestrians, we hear the same arguments every year. We also hear the same question: what if there were side guards? We can take action today.

To reassure my colleagues opposite, given that we are amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, we are talking about trucks that would be imported into or manufactured in Canada. I agree that we must talk with the provincial governments if we want to change what is happening on roads at present.

Nevertheless, in what area can the government take action? What falls under its jurisdiction? As parliamentarians, where can we have an impact and where can we make changes? We can change what falls under federal jurisdiction. I am proposing to change the law. Bill C-603 is important to me and to the people I have met, to Jessica's mother and the mothers of many other people. Unfortunately, it is too late for Mathilde Blais and Jessica Holman-Price, but we can take action and still save lives. I invite all my colleagues to support this bill.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech and for his work on this file.

I had the opportunity to work with him on the Standing Committee on Finance. I know that his arguments and proposals are well thought out because of his training as an economist.

In his speech, he talked about the criteria the NDP uses before taking a position on this kind of free trade agreement. Contrary to what the Conservatives and the Liberals like to say, we are not opposed to everything. We have a specific vision and we do not give our support lightly.

Could my colleague talk about these criteria?

Rail Transportation October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has revealed that railway companies are failing to report accidents. Since 2007, at least 254 incidents were not reported or were reported late.

Even though most of the accidents not reported were minor, does the minister acknowledge that her government's approach of letting the industry regulate itself is not working?

Events of October 22, 2014 October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, after what happened last week, October 22, 2014, will be etched in our minds forever.

To all those who wanted to know how I was doing and who sent me words of encouragement, I say thank you. I am well and I am proud to be here in the House today. I want to thank my girlfriend, my loved ones, my family and my team, who have always been there for me.

I would also like to thank the parliamentary security guards, the Ottawa police, the RCMP officers and our armed forces from the bottom of my heart. They intervened to protect us. We owe them more than our gratitude. We owe them a debt of remembrance.

Remembrance Day is upon us. It is an opportunity for me and all Canadians to honour the sacrifices so many women and men who have made our country.

Lest we forget.

Infrastructure October 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in the envelope that transportation companies receive, the users contribute the most to cover costs by paying 36% of the bill. The Government of Quebec contributes 21%, while the federal government, which claims to do so much, contributes only 1%.

The NDP has long been saying that the federal government can and must do more when it comes to public transit.

Will the government commit to increasing its contribution to public transit?