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

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the big reward for us all is my colleague, who is such a fine member. She is a reward for the entire House and for all Canadians. I find all of her speeches very relevant.

The question I have for her has to do with victims of crime and the related costs to society, which are in the billions of dollars.

Does my colleague think that the government's response to the cost is enough to meet the needs?

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, victims incur billions of dollars in expenses. We often hear the Conservatives say that they support victims' rights. They always accuse us of supporting criminals' rights.

However, I saw a contract for cable television in Canadian prisons worth about $2 billion a year. The Conservatives are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Could my colleague talk about the financial resources allocated to victims?

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, what is the vision of an NDP government? Can my colleague explain our vision with respect to victims' rights?

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would love to wax eloquent on this, but I believe that the problem of the past 30 years in terms of getting actual robust, concrete, detailed policy has been the centralization of power in the Prime Minister's office. That is a problem generally. Until we deal with that issue, we will not get the policy solutions we need, simply because cabinet cannot act independently enough of the Prime Minister's office to come up with policy that makes sense, that is based on research, and that looks at best practices internationally. Until we take the power out of that office, we will continue to have politically motivated legislation that is not backed up by the proper follow-through.

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would agree with my colleague that there has to be greater dialogue between the federal government and the provinces. One of the current government's weaknesses is that it does not have enough collaboration with the provinces.

I would like to have spoken about restorative justice at greater length. I do not think 10 minutes would have done it justice when I had to address the bill as well.

It is true that the Canadian model is not really a universal model. That is why I pointed to places like Norway, where it is incorporated into the actual process of justice rather than being an add-on in a largely retributive system. There have been great successes toward healing in aboriginal communities with the use of the restorative justice model.

I would love to work with my hon. colleague in the future and discuss the opportunities we have as a country to look at this model of justice.

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague said, it is a first step, and we have to start somewhere when we want to change things in this country. All political parties in this place develop visions and ideas for how to change things. The Liberals, the NDP, the Greens, and Forces et Démocratie all have their ideas about how they want to change things. We develop political policy proposals, usually in the run-up to election campaigns.

In all honesty, I looked at every political party in my youth and growing up. I studied platforms and whatnot, and a lot of times promises are made to Canadians that are not quite fleshed out. All parties do it. They promise things and do not quite flesh out all the details, but they give a vision and a promise and a hope to Canadians, and I think that was the intention of the government when it came up with this bill. It had the hope of making things better for victims. It promised to make things better for victims eight years ago, and it ran on that promise.

Canadians hope that when they support a vision or a promise, there will be follow-through on it. Most of my colleagues today have said, as I will now, that the follow-through has been inadequate. When something is promised to somebody, it has to be followed through on and delivered. It is all well and good to develop nice visions and give hope to people, but follow-through has to take place, details have to be fleshed out, and it has to be backed up with real, concrete goals and objectives and actions. As my other colleague said, New Democrats will support this bill, but we believe there needs to be a more robust policy than what is on offer. There has to be more follow-though.

Earlier in the debate, my colleague from Sudbury mentioned the concept of restorative justice. CSC has a program called the restorative opportunities program. I should explain for members of the House and Canadians who do not quite know what restorative justice is that it is a system of justice that emphasizes healing, hears victims' stories in detail, and incorporates victims into the whole process of justice. It also incorporates people who have committed crimes. The end result, hopefully, is the healing of all parties involved.

As I said, Canada has a program called the restorative opportunities program, but it is a post-sentencing program. It is not fully integrated into our justice system. There are places in the world that offer restorative justice systems that are integrated into every level of their justice systems. Norway is an example. Restorative justice is incorporated into the judicial process itself. Victims' testimonies are not necessarily counted as evidence, but this system allows victims a forum to express themselves and share their experiences as victims as a way of getting to a point of healing.

Society participates in this process, so the process ends up being more inclusive of victims and society at large. Lack of inclusiveness is a complaint about our current retributive system of justice that commonly comes forward from victims. If we look at validators of the idea of better incorporating victims into the justice system, we see that the first victims ombudsman said, “I see nothing here”—meaning this legislation—“that will make the process go speedier and part of that is because the trial process is really not about the victim. It is about the accused.” That was said by the first victims ombudsman.

The idea behind that is that the trial process focuses on the accused and leaves victims out of the process, often as passive observers, when they want to be included in the justice process.

In terms of involving greater society, the l'Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes validates that position. This is what it said about the CSC and this legislation.

They must concern themselves with the fate of all victims and not just those who are already implicated in the justice system.

That points to involving greater society in the process as victims. Sure, people who have crimes committed against them are direct victims, but there are also indirect victims of crime. Those people also deserve to be heard. They have a right to be heard. People who have actually been touched by crime have validated wanting to be more included in the justice system. They are people like Sharlene Lange, the mother of a victim of crime. She said:

Beyond the sentencing stage of the process, the victims basically fall off the face of the earth.

Rights need to go beyond the criminal process for this bill to even be a bill of rights.

What she is pointing to is that unless we include victims in the process from start to finish, and they feel that they are active participants, they will feel that they do not have rights under this system.

The current model we have, the CSC restorative opportunities program, needs work and development. It needs to be better incorporated into the justice system to take victims' rights into consideration. It is a post-sentencing program. It is voluntary, which is understandable, because it is not integrated into the justice system. Victims might not want to participate in a voluntary post-sentencing program that does not have the resources to back up its goals.

The second thing I want to get to is the financial cost to victims in our society. We have seen that the cost to victims is as high as, I believe, $99 billion a year. I am not sure. Perhaps my colleagues would be able to confirm that.

Unfortunately, in our country, when we measure things like economic growth, we use GDP as an economic indicator. Over 400 U.S. economists, including Alan Greenspan, have said that the major weakness of GDP is that it cannot measure social welfare in a society. What they mean by that is that when a bad thing happens, such as a crime, and it is costly to a victim, and a victim has to spend a lot of money because of being a victim of a crime, that registers as positive economic growth. That is problematic.

I hope members and Canadians listening to this debate will start to question that. When we look at indicators of economic growth using an indicator such as GDP, it registers these negative costs to our society. It does not register social welfare. There have been alternative tools proposed, such as the genuine progress indicator.

This is a good first step. It speaks to the hopes and aspirations our party has for increasing victims' rights and including victims in the justice process, but as we have said, it does not quite go far enough. There is not enough follow-up and there is a lot of work to be done.

White Ribbon Campaign November 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, since 1981, the white ribbon campaign has given us an opportunity to stand together to end violence in our society. The campaign reminds us that men must stand with women to condemn violence against them.

People have approached me in the past few weeks wondering why victims of sexual harassment do not share their identities or stories with the general public. I tell them that women still continue to be blamed for their actions; slut shaming and victim shaming are still prevalent in our culture, and this must stop. We need an open dialogue to heal. Sharing our stories anonymously or not allows us this healing.

I hope that in 2015, we will continue to work together to build a future marked by greater gender equality, a future in which women are free to make their own choices.

It is a woman's decision to choose. It is her decision.

The best tool we have to end the violence is to reassert our commitment to human rights.

Let us use this as an inspiration for the coming year. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act toward one another in a spirit of togetherness.

Citizenship and Immigration November 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Canada's and Ontario's official languages commissioners say that francophone minority communities are not reaping the benefits of francophone immigration. Barely 2% of francophone newcomers settle outside of Quebec.

Will the minister implement the commissioners' recommendations to ensure that our francophone minority communities reap the benefits of welcoming francophone newcomers?

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, if the government put energy into implementation and administration, and backed it up with people and firm numbers that actually made sense for the protection of these areas, then perhaps we could entertain the idea that this would be done responsibly. The government has not even put anything from the budget into the administration of these areas, which renders the whole planning process meaningless.

The government has ignored the people who have made boundary decisions. There is not a huge population up in the Arctic, so a figure like 1,600 people is significant and a figure of 65 people expressing a boundary interest is significant, and should be taken into account.

Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Act November 6th, 2014

As I mentioned before in my speech, Mr. Speaker, the government obviously entered into the planning process in bad faith. At the beginning of the process, it already had in mind that it would maximize mining interests in the park and it held on to that idea in the face of scientific analysis and in the face of public consultation.

The government used the planning and public consultation process as a way to legitimize its bad decision of maximizing mining interests for the sole goal of short-term growth against long-term ecological planning for future generations.