House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was economy.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Vaudreuil—Soulanges (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada Shipping Act, 2001 May 6th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to support this bill at second reading. This is an important issue for the people of Vaudreuil—Soulanges who live along the shores of Lac Saint-Louis and Lac Saint-François, where a wreck, the Kathryn Spirit, recently sat.

Lac Saint-Louis is located at the confluence of the St. Lawrence River and the Ottawa River. In the past 40 years, a number of developments have posed a threat to the health of our lakes. These threats to our rivers and lakes include very worn pipelines and urban sprawl. Wrecks are another threat to our lakes and rivers. A wreck is very likely to pose a threat to safety and the environment sooner or later.

I have already mentioned the wreck of the Kathryn Spirit, which is a real-life example of why this bill is needed. This ship was built in 1967. In 2011 it was decided that the ship would be scrapped and that it would be dismantled in the Beauharnois region. The mayor of Beauharnois opposed the idea of dismantling the ship in Beauharnois, and the city managed to block the work. However, the wreck remained where it was from 2012 to the end of 2014. It was discovered that the ship had leaked oil into the waterway, and the mayor of Beauharnois, Mr. Haineault, wanted the federal government to intervene. He was the mayor of a municipality and this issue did not fall under his jurisdiction since the ship was in federal waters. The federal government did not take action.

We are choosing to take action this evening by way of this bill.

This bill would give the Canadian Coast Guard the regulatory power it needs to take action before a derelict vessel becomes a problem. If this bill had been around in 2012, the people of Vaudreuil—Soulanges and Beauharnois—Salaberry would not have been frustrated by the federal government's inaction. This bill would have given them some tools.

This is what the mayor of Beauharnois had to say:

Quebec's most precious resource is the beauty of the St. Lawrence. We have to protect that. Allowing this type of activity makes no sense.

We will not create a better future by working in isolation; we have to work together. The time to act is now. Municipalities, port authorities, regional authorities and provincial governments want to help the federal government develop a more robust regime that includes fines and removal costs. A regime like that cannot come from a private member's bill.

It is time that the government acted in the interest of citizens living in coastal regions. What the Conservatives have done and have in place right now simply is not working.

The Kathryn Spirit in Beauharnois is proof of the system not working. Years and years have passed while the Kathryn Spirit has menaced the environment. The wreck has been floating for more than three years in the waters of Lake Saint-Louis and its deterioration poses a threat to the environment, biodiversity of the watershed and the health of local residents. The boat's owner delayed work to get the ship back afloat and continued to delay the process. Meanwhile, the federal government did nothing. The Conservatives abdicated their responsibilities.

The member from the government side referenced the Canada Shipping Act. Well, in this case, the federal government did not use that authority to have the owner remove the boat that was clearly posing a risk to the environment and the health of the people of Vaudreuil—Soulanges, Beauharnois—Salaberry, Lac-Saint-Louis and all of the communities downstream along the St. Lawrence River.

The Conservatives need to take action. It is disappointing to see that they do not intend to support this bill from the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

I am proud to have lived in the member's riding for a short time, in 1989 and 1990. I also worked in the riding of the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca at the repair and disposal facility at the naval base in 1992 when I was a summer student. I know the people of their ridings are looking for solutions to deal with derelict vessels.

The Kathryn Spirit is one example of a wreck in my riding where the federal government did not act to have it removed, and it was posing a threat. There are many other examples of derelict vessels across the country.

In the riding of the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, there was the sinking of the SS Beaver in Cowichan Bay. As reported in an article, pollution from the ship leaked into the bay and the Coast Guard was called to the scene. The article mentions support for Bill C-231, which is now Bill C-638, to eliminate the jurisdictional confusion related to the responsibility for derelict vessels.

There needs to be a bit of clarity here in the regime that we have in place, obviously. Just in listening to the members across the way explain in their speeches that the regime is clear and efficient, I was confused about it. I could not really make sense of it. If it is difficult for a member who is very familiar with legal terms and jurisdictions to try to figure out the regime that is in place, think of what it would be like for a mayor of a small or medium-sized town to try to navigate the labyrinth that is the current regime which is in place.

The member for Nanaimo—Cowichan has developed an excellent, clear proposal, which I think would give the tools to municipalities and regional governing bodies to deal with wrecks. We would like to see a derelict vessel regime similar to that of Washington State, which I think has been mentioned a few times in the debate tonight, to deal with this growing problem of abandoned boats in our waterways.

Our waterways are a legacy that we pass down to our children. We have to keep them clean. We have to keep them healthy. We would like to see the biodiversity in them continue. This private member's bill is just the first step of a new regime that is needed.

I am sure that in October we will flesh this out once we become government after the next election. We will have a regime in place that will provide a clear authority for who should deal with derelict vessels.

Even though I have heard members across the way say that they oppose the bill, we hope that they will listen to the voices from the coastal areas in Canada. These are people who are asking for action on the problem of aging fleets, the lack of recycling facilities for fibreglass, and a desire to protect waterways from potential environmental or safety concerns so that we can pass on this legacy to our children.

Pipeline Safety Act May 6th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, there is a federally regulated pipeline in my riding that my constituents are very concerned about. In fact, the 23 municipalities of Vaudreuil—Soulanges have asked, through resolutions, for hydrostatic testing on this 40-year-old Enbridge pipeline. Whitby—Oshawa is also one of the regions this pipeline goes through.

It is true that pipeline standards for newly built pipelines are world-class, but what about grandfathered ones, such as this Enbridge line? Why has there been so much discretionary authority given to the NEB in cases such as this? To gain social licence in my region, there is a lot more work to do. How does the member intend to address these issues?

Citizen Voting Act May 1st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you will the consent of the House to see the clock as 1:30 p.m.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I was impressed by my colleague's speech. He mentioned an institution that I am sure does good work, but I was alarmed it is anchored in the values of the Sisters of Good Shepherd. If we look at history, in Ireland this order ran four Magdalene laundries. If we look at the history of faith based orders taking care of these problems, we can see that in Canada we had forced adoptions at many of these maternity homes, although not this one in particular.

I know the member for Winnipeg North is a man of faith. He voted for Motion No. 312. Is it the Liberal plan to increase funding to faith based agencies to deal with the problems of child sexual abuse?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I can honestly say that that is what bothers me the most. These bills come into play after the abuse has already taken place. A child has already been abused. For once, could we work on preventing the abuse from happening? Could we put an end to these offences altogether?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, there certainly is a cycle of abuse. I knew people in my childhood who were abused and I knew that their parents were abused as well. Therefore, the parent was both abused and the abuser. It is tragic.

The thing about the crime and punishment agenda is that yes, it is necessary to protect our society from these predators, but at the same time, sometimes the crime and punishment agenda takes away from the frank discussions that we should be having about the cycle of abuse and the effect it is having on us as a society.

It takes resources away from what we could perhaps do in preventing abuse from happening in the first place and treating this as a serious matter in families.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my speech already, New Democrats are supporting the legislation. I also said that imposing jail sentences does stop the further abuse. I do not think I said anything in my speech that contradicted the fact that we need to stop further abuse.

The crux of my speech was that we have to actually stop abuse before it happens. This bill addresses elements after the abuse has happened. I would like to see legislation put before the House that would actually reduce the prevalence of abuse, get to the root of it, and stop people from abusing, rather than addressing it after the fact and being reactionary after the abuse has already happened.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that I am splitting my time with the member for Laval—Les Îles.

The stats are troubling. One out of three girls and one out of six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. These statistics mean that right now in Canada there are five million girls who have been sexually abused and 2.8 million boys. That number is too high. That is a statistic that should trouble everyone in Canada.

That is part of the reason why we are supporting Bill C-26 going forward, but we do not believe that the bill goes far enough and I will explain why. Some 95% of child sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way, a statistic from the Badgley commission in the eighties, and 68% are abused by a family member, someone within their family: stepfather, father or an uncle. When we think of these statistics, the problem becomes much more complex.

I am the father of a 10-year-old girl. I have another daughter on the way. She is due to be born in June. These statistics are troubling to me as a father. It is something that is always on my mind. It is always a worry that one day something might happen to my daughter.

New Democrats have zero tolerance for child sexual abuse. I would like to think that zero tolerance for child sexual abuse does not mean that we only get the predator after the perpetrator has abused the child, because that, in effect, is what the bill is addressing. For everything that is addressed in the bill, the sexual abuse has already happened. My hope as a father is that we could get rid of child sexual abuse before it happens, before any child in this country is abused.

There is nothing in Bill C-26 that will stop a child from being abused. I will explain why. The reason is that once the police put a predator in jail, the predator has abused a child. Once a perpetrator's name is in a database, the perpetrator has abused a child already. The abuse has already happened.

My question to my colleague, who may or may not be listening to me speaking about this, is that we have to find the solution to stopping sexual abuse before it happens. We have to reduce this problem that is in our country.

That said, we do support measures to remove child sexual predators from general society to protect the children they may further abuse. We even went to the point during the debates on Bill C-10 to approach the House leader and the minister responsible to say that we would take all the measures for child sexual predators out of the omnibus legislation and fast-track them through the House right away, make them into law right away. Unfortunately, the other side did not accept that. We thought that the need to pass them was pressing and that is why we proposed that. We would agree with putting these predators away so that the abuse stops.

However, we have to start talking about real action and we have to back up this action with actual funding, because tough words will not solve the problem. We also have to keep an open mind when we discuss this, because child sexual abuse is a wicked problem. It does not have simple solutions.

The statistics I cited at the top of my speech should make members think. Often when abuse happens in a family, the child is unwilling to speak because it may be a father or a stepfather. In the children's minds, they are trying to protect their family in one way, and yet they are trying to protect themselves. It is a very confusing experience for a child.

The Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute in the U.S. says:

Professionals - physicians and therapists - can never put an end to sexual abuse; neither can the police or the courts. Why? Because they come on the scene too late. By the time they get there, the children have already been molested.

Therefore, the question we should be asking is, how do we prevent child abuse? We need to have frank discussions. The member across mentioned education, but part of the education piece that needs to happen is how to talk within families about abuse. It should not just be talking about the predator being a stranger outside of the family who is somehow going to infiltrate the family to abuse the children. Often the abuser is within the family already. Therefore, we need the tools to have these frank discussions about issues of abuse and issues of consent. As I said, 95% of the people are known to the children and 68% are often a family member.

At the core, sending molesters to jail as a solution to child molestation will always fail our children because in order for a molester to be jailed children will be abused. This is again from the institute. It is the same with treatment. When people who perpetrate child sexual abuse are identified for treatment, they have often already abused the child.

The member across the way also said that what we think of child sexual predators is not always the case. It is not one ethnic group and not one social class. There was actually a study done. It was called the Abel and Harlow child molestation prevention study. It looked at 4,000 admitted child molesters, men from the ages of 18 to 20. They found the following statistics: 77% were married; 93% were religious, men of faith; 46% had college educations; and 65% had normal steady work. After stating that, what does a child sexual predator look like? Physically, it could look like many of the men in this chamber. It is not what we imagine it to be on the outside.

They look like normal men on the outside, but on the inside they have a disorder that has been identified under the DSM as pedophilia. Pedophilia is an awful mental disorder. We do not discuss attacking this disorder enough. Often pedophilia is identified in the teenage years in men. There are signs that appear that can be signals. If we flag them soon enough, we might be able to prevent sexual abuse from occurring. If we could identify in the teenage years the signs of this disorder, then we could actually attack it right at the root.

This is where we have to attack it because then we could actually prevent these men, and sometimes women, from actually committing the sexual abuse. We have to focus on the cause. We have to develop a prevention plan to prevent sexual abuse from ever happening.

Bill C-26 does a wonderful job of looking at what to do after someone has abused a child. We would put them in jail and put them in a database. However, we really need to take action on finding a way to prevent child abuse from ever happening in the first place.

The way we are going to do that is to have a frank discussion. We have to stop portraying this as a stranger that is going to perpetrate sexual abuse on a child. We know the statistics. There have been many studies done. We have to really put the resources toward the root of the problem and start having frank discussions within our families and with our neighbours about the roots of sexual abuse.

We need to start to put our energy into this, so that those seven million children in our country, that I cited as the next generation, will have even less abuse and eventually, hopefully, we can eradicate this problem from our society entirely.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I asked my colleague this question earlier.

Even though these measures have been taken, the incidence of abuse has gone up by 6% over the past five years. I believe that is the figure. Could my hon. colleague explain why the measures taken so far have not worked?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned that the number of cases of abuse has grown in recent years.

Can she go into more detail about why that number has gone up despite the fact that the Conservatives like to talk about how they are dealing with the issue?