House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was terms.

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

Rail Transportation February 2nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, CP Rail is using office workers to drive and load trains. We are talking about trains that could be a mile and a half long, with hundreds of cars and dangerous goods going through our cities. This is a huge safety concern.

Does the minister approve of CP Rail's method? Does she think it is safe and appropriate?

Rail Transportation January 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Transportation Safety Board says it is concerned by the Conservatives' lack of action.

They are dragging their feet and refusing to implement several of the TSB recommendations. Transport Canada still does not have an effective monitoring program to ensure that railway companies comply with the law.

Eighteen months after the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, why are the Conservatives finding it so difficult to monitor the railway industry and keep the public safe?

Rail Transportation January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, since 2009, Transport Canada spending on transportation safety has dropped by more than 20%.

At the same time, the volume of oil transported by rail has increased by a factor of 27. The Lac-Mégantic tragedy laid bare the terrible consequences of Transport Canada's complacency. Allowing the industry to regulate itself and cutting oversight can lead to worst-case scenarios.

Why is the minister cutting Transport Canada's oversight funding?

Rail Transportation January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, last week the program Enquête revealed that the report on the Lac-Mégantic tragedy was watered down.

The public's confidence cannot be restored by allowing such important decisions to be made behind closed doors. Canadians are worried. We need a public inquiry on the rail transportation of dangerous goods.

What is the government waiting for to take action?

Protecting Taxpayers and Revoking Pensions of Convicted Politicians Act January 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, first of all, since this is my first speech of the year, I would like to begin by wishing you and all my colleagues of the House and everyone at home all the best for 2015. We in the NDP have been anxiously awaiting 2015 for some time now; as everyone knows, this is an election year.

This year is particularly important to us, because it is time to do some housecleaning. We need to repair the damage caused by previous governments, both Conservative and Liberal. Furthermore, it is unfortunate that we have to start off the new year talking about scandals and about MPs and senators who have broken the law.

Bill C-518 amends the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act. In principle, we support the objective of taking retirement pensions and payments away from senators or members of the House of Commons who are found guilty of certain Criminal Code offences.

The scope of the bill was changed in committee. I will elaborate on that later. In fact, I want to say from the outset that the principle is good. Every Canadian who is watching us or follows politics has had enough of the scandals and are sick of hearing about Mike Duffy, for example, who committed fraud, or Dean Del Mastro, who was convicted of violating the Canada Elections Act. Then there are the Conservative and Liberal senators; my colleague mentioned Mac Harb. Let us not forget the sponsorship scandal that is still dogging the Liberals.

People have had it with all this corruption, this approach, the same old politics. That is why we support this desire to tackle the problem. It really is not right for a convicted person to be entitled to a pension or benefits. The bill includes a balanced provision whereby a convicted person could nonetheless collect the equivalent of his or her contributions to the pension plan with interest. Even if a person is convicted, they are still owed a certain amount. The problem is this government's approach.

As for last session's scandals, and most recently those involving the Conservatives, we see that the Conservatives used their majority on the committee to protect one of their own. After throwing Dean Del Mastro under the bus, they nevertheless protected his pension. The Conservative members had an exhaustive and specific list of offences and they made sure that Dean Del Mastro would get his pension. I find it deplorable that they massaged a bill, which was basically a good bill, to protect one of their own. That is completely unacceptable, especially when we know that the person in question was found guilty of violating the Canada Elections Act.

Indeed, the NDP's objective, which it continues to work towards by moving amendments and motions, is to expand the scope of the bill and to eliminate this gaping loophole that is protecting a Conservative member. This law must be enforced in an impartial and honest manner.

I will give other examples. What was initially proposed, and what we are calling for, was that federal legislation such as the Income Tax Act, the Parliament of Canada Act and all laws concerning the federal government be included in the scope of the bill.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives rejected the amendments we moved in committee, which only fuels cynicism. We have a bill with good intentions, that is, to punish those who commit fraud and violate the law. However, out of pure partisanship, the Conservatives—who, as we know, also have a majority in committee—decided to amend the bill to protect one of their own. That is completely unacceptable.

Furthermore, why were Income Tax Act offences not included? When I was the official opposition's national revenue critic, we moved a motion, which was studied by the Standing Committee on Finance, to combat tax havens and tax evasion. After negotiations, I managed to convince my Conservative and Liberal colleagues to tackle this issue, which is why we studied it in committee.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives' refusal to include Income Tax Act offences clearly shows their bad intentions. They agree to a study, but they refuse to punish tax evaders. I hope that this will change and that they will understand that this does not help them, even though they want to protect their friends. In this case, we are talking about Dean Del Mastro, but there are others. The Liberals did not take action when they were in power, and now the Conservatives are not doing anything either, even though they claim to be acting.

That is why I look forward to having an experienced leader in 2015 who will move things forward and fix the mess caused by Conservative and Liberal governments.

To come back to the bill, why does the government not want to go after those who break our laws? I am asking this question to my colleagues opposite. Why did they limit the scope of this bill, whose underlying principle was good, simply to protect one of their own? This will create loopholes for other fraudsters, who will be able to take advantage of the fact that offences under the Income Tax Act have been excluded from the bill.

That is rather surprising. Let us not forget that the Conservative government is the first government in the history of Canada to have been found guilty of contempt of Parliament. Clearly, this government wants to protect its friends and its MPs who break its own laws.

This brings us back to the matter of accountability. Senators are included in this bill. Everyone knows about the Mike Duffy, Mac Harb and Pamela Wallin scandals. These senators were appointed by this government, with the exception of Mac Harb, who was appointed by the Liberals. The NDP's position is clear: these senators do not belong in our democracy. The NDP believes that the outdated institution that is the Senate should be abolished, and we are going to make that happen.

In this case, why do the Conservatives want to protect one of their own, who has been found criminally responsible, by amending an bill that was commendable in principle and had the support of the opposition? We now have a watered-down bill, and this confirms what we have been saying all along: the government is once again letting senators and MPs get away with fraud.

If the government wants to be accountable and do something about this cynicism, which often arises as a result of the politicians themselves, why would it do such a thing? It is unacceptable. I hope that my colleagues opposite will consider and support our amendments.

Petitions December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition signed by hundreds of people from my riding, Brossard—La Prairie. The petitioners are calling on the government to reject Canada Post's plan for reduced service and to explore other options for updating the crown corporation's business plan.

I would like to thank all those who participated in the day of action and who continue to collect signatures for petitions.

Bill C-603 December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today we will be voting on my bill, Bill C-603, which seeks to make side guards on heavy trucks mandatory.

We can and we must save lives. It is not time for politics. The coroners of Ontario and Quebec are very clear: side guards save lives.

To members who believe that the studies are inconclusive, I invite them to vote in favour of the bill at this stage, so that we can hear from experts at committee.

When I introduced my bill, I said that we must not wait for another death to occur before taking action. We have waited too long already.

Families should not have to lose loved ones while waiting for Parliament to take action. The time to act is now. We must support this bill.

Motor Vehicle Safety Act December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and yet somewhat disappointed to be speaking today.

I am pleased because this is a private member's bill. When it was my turn to decide which bill I would introduce, I asked myself what change we could actually make. Clearly, we are talking about a bill that can save lives.

I listened closely to all of the speeches. I would like to thank my colleagues on this side of the House, both the Liberals and the NDP. They gave speeches that really touched me, that got to the heart of the matter and that expressed much of what I was feeling.

I am disappointed today because I also listened to the Conservative government during the first hour of debate. From the outset, the government opposed the bill. I found it unfortunate and difficult to witness such an ideological attitude. However, this is not just about ideology. The members are being whipped by their government and cabinet, which are telling them to vote a certain way and spout the same lines. Everything I heard from the other side was the same.

If the members truly believe that they are lacking information, they should support the bill at second reading and we will study it in committee. We will look at the facts.

According to them, the studies are inconclusive. I plead with my colleagues opposite to actually read some of the reports.

There is one report that came from the chief coroner of Ontario. It is dated June 2012, so it is a new report that came out not too long ago. It looked at what happened between January 2006 and December 31, 2010. It looked at the fatalities. It looked at the accidents involving trucks and cyclists. The recommendation that came from the coroner is outlined in number 13. It is a recommendation to Transport Canada that states, “Side-guards should be made mandatory for heavy trucks in Canada.”

Therefore, if my colleagues do not want to listen to us in the opposition and are saying the studies are not conclusive, they should at least look at the reports that came from the coroner. If they believe that what we have here is not sufficient, let us study it at committee. Let us look at what we have in terms of reports and studies and let us make a decision.

I urge my colleagues to vote in favour of the bill at second reading. Then, if they are not satisfied with what we do at committee, that is fine.

In Europe, vehicle side guards have been mandatory for the past 25 years. They are mandatory in Japan and Great Britain. In Canada, there have been so many deaths that I cannot name all the victims. One death in particular had a real impact on me because I met the victim's mother. Jessica was killed by a vehicle. She wanted to save her brother and she fell under the vehicle.

Westmount, the City of Montreal and Ville Saint-Laurent reacted by equipping their vehicles with side guards. If anyone thinks that the municipalities are wasting their money, they can think again. The government is saying that the municipalities and the provinces can make other regulations themselves. That is true, but we also have a responsibility. We must show leadership.

All my colleagues were going to vote against the bill at second reading. We should ask ourselves next time when there is a death. It happened two weeks ago. There was a death in Montreal, and the first thing that was said was that maybe sideguards would have saved the person.

When Mathilde Blais was killed earlier this year, we said that maybe side guards would have saved her. What did the coroner report say? It said they could have saved her. Please think about it next time.

Rail Transportation December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about responsibility.

The current Minister of Infrastructure was the transport minister when the Lac-Mégantic tragedy occurred. He was the one who allowed cuts to be made to rail safety and allowed MMA to break the rules and travel with just one conductor.

Will the minister rise in the House and take some responsibility?

Rail Transportation December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the television program Enquête obtained some inside information about the Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. It revealed that 18 to 26 handbrakes would have been needed to stop the train. That means that the federal standards were woefully inadequate. When will the Conservatives learn from their mistakes and release new standards for brakes on trains?