House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was volunteers.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as Forces et Démocratie MP for Repentigny (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 0% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, being ex-military myself, there is a concept I have some difficulty understanding in the government's position, which is basically about cluster munitions being a dirty war. We have a tendency to go toward something that is clean, that is based on intel and drones, to make things clean and make sure that there are no civilian victims. We do not want wars. We want peace. Yet here we are making a loophole so that when we go into a country and intervene, we leave crap behind that kills civilians and children.

I do not understand the attitude of saying that we want to defend our troops. There are about a million tools we could use. The tendency is that when we go into someone's backyard, we try to leave in peace, where people are in harmony and believe in a future of peace. It is not where children are running around and being blown up because we were cowards with no backbone and left something behind.

Could my colleague tell us why clause 11 is unacceptable?

Victims Bill of Rights June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was a correctional officer and I saw many victims and met many people who victimized others. I am not sure that people want to constantly revisit and relive this situation. However, they do need a lot of support.

Does my hon. colleague have any further comments about the victim assistance program?

The Budget June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, massive cuts and Conservative inaction have had a devastating impact on my riding.

Because of their botched, half-baked approach to fighting homelessness, La Hutte, a homeless shelter in my riding, lost 25% of its funding. The Conservatives also cut the federal contribution to the Christmas fair, which represents millions in economic spinoffs. As well, they did absolutely nothing about the closure of Electrolux, which resulted in the loss of 2,000 jobs.

Why are the Conservatives shirking their responsibility to support economic development and social protection in Repentigny?

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 June 5th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his excellent presentation.

The government is doing nothing about the closure of Electrolux in my riding; it is cutting the $40,000 that used to go to the Marché de Noël every year, a Christmas market with economic spinoffs to the tune of millions of dollars; it is raising the price of stamps to $1, even though it is already difficult to deliver the mail; and it is reducing services once again.

What does my colleague think about the government's logic?

The Economy June 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives claim that they are helping the economy grow, promoting the common good and standing up for Canadians. However, they are favouring their rich friends while the majority of people are suffering and getting poorer.

In my riding, the Conservatives did nothing to address the closure of Electrolux. More than 2,000 jobs were lost. They stopped giving financial support to the Christmas market, which created millions of dollars in economic spinoffs. They have stripped the homeless shelter, La Hutte, of 25% of its budget. All of those cuts amount to direct attacks on my region's social and economic development.

We deserve better than a mediocre government that does not seem to understand anything about basic economics. We deserve a secure future. In 2015, let us make sure that we get rid of the Conservative pandemic once and for all.

National Volunteer Week April 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, this week is National Volunteer Week, so I want to pay tribute to the work done by all volunteers. They are the heart and soul of our society. They are excellent examples of what it means to help one another and show empathy and compassion.

We all understand how they contribute to society, but I want to remind the House how they contribute to the economy. More than 13 million volunteers donate 2 billion hours of work every year. Their contributions represent $50 billion, which is nearly 3% of the GDP.

I remind members that the non-profit sector to which volunteers contribute makes up 7% of the GDP. This figure represents more than the mining, auto manufacturing and oil extraction industries. Therefore, this is a signification contribution.

Let us take some time this week to thank the volunteers who give of themselves for the well-being of others and our communities. Thank you, volunteers.

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act March 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my question for the government is rather simple.

Historically, Honduras is undemocratic, does not respect human rights and mistreats its citizens. Drug trafficking is rampant and the extent of corruption is extraordinary.

Why does the government not have the will and the strength to use a free trade agreement to impose international laws or Canadian values in order to ensure a better future for Honduran society?

My question is simple. I do not see the government making any effort to head in that direction.

Petitions February 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present two petitions today. The first is from Saint-Paul-l'Ermite parish in Repentigny and the other from Saints-Simon-et-Jude parish in Charlemagne.

Reports show that mining companies are problematic. These petitions call for the creation of a legal ombudsman mechanism for responsible mining.

The Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor is ineffective. We need to create a legal ombudsman mechanism that can receive, investigate and assess information and make its findings public so that remedial action can be taken.

Support for Volunteer Firefighters Act February 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, my hon. colleague introduced an extraordinary bill. It is not very costly, and it addresses a problem that can be fixed in the blink of an eye. Yet again, however, the government is trying to avoid the issue and pretend it is not that important. The government often says that it wants to work together and is waiting for suggestions. Here we have a suggestion that could go through very quickly.

The Conservatives say that because only 5% of federal public service employees are volunteer firefighters, it is not up to the government to fix this problem, but there is no cost associated with this bill. Some provinces have already implemented legislation like this, and it is working very well. The government looks pretty lazy in this case.

When it is a Conservative bill and they want to talk about helping volunteer firefighters, their bill is extraordinary. When anyone tries to bully our volunteer firefighters or prevent them from responding, that is a problem. I do not understand. Following that logic, should there not have been volunteer firefighters in Lac-Mégantic? Did some businesses in neighbouring communities prevent firefighters from responding? If there are volunteer firefighters who collect employment insurance benefits and work from home, will the government tell them that Canadian labour standards do not help them and that it needs them to work in an office instead of respond to help the community when there is an emergency? We would end up with fewer firefighters, or maybe none at all who can respond.

Are they trying to privatize firefighting and make it even more costly? We are lucky that some people are prepared to dedicate body and soul to volunteer for the good of a community and its businesses. That is so important when there is a fire. These people take their own time away from their families to train, to be available, to stay connected to people and to help us out of difficult situations.

We cannot yet afford to have full-time, paid firefighters in all of our communities, which is why we have volunteer firefighters. How is it that, although these days the government is saying that essential services are wonderful, the Conservatives do not want to participate in our discussions about the obstruction and blocking of those services? We have introduced a bill. Why not send it to committee? Why not support it so it can be studied? Why not hear from witnesses and prove how problematic this issue is?

I will talk about what I know. I wore a uniform for much of my life. I was part of those essential services. I saw friends who volunteered, who took courses, who put their families aside so that they could help their communities, in the broad sense. Not once did I ever see those people hesitate in any way to be there for their communities or to help others. When I had a chance to share a meal with them and ask them what they thought of being a volunteer firefighter, they said it was amazing, but that their employers sometimes prevented them from being present and sometimes made things difficult. Their employers intimidated them and threatened to dismiss them if they were not available to work. That is a real problem.

It is absolutely crucial that we co-operate and come up with standards to ensure that everyone can work together. Actually, I think my colleague's bill is rather sad, because this kind of obstruction is unacceptable. It should not exist. Congratulating our volunteers and thanking them for their commitment is all well and good, but it is absolutely unacceptable that their employers prevent them from volunteering when they are prepared to save children or to save seniors from a fire—which happened recently—simply because the employers need them to sell a product. This is civic engagement in a global sense. I recognize that some businesses and employers who have volunteer firefighters as employees are also making a sacrifice, as this has repercussions on scheduling or on the operation of their business, in terms of ensuring that they have enough staff available at all times. That is to be expected.

If we need such a bill, it means there is a problem. Unfortunately, in our society, we tend to solve problems through legislation. I am completely open to having a dialogue, but unfortunately, that does not happen in the House of Commons.

We find ourselves in a situation where they absolutely do not want to listen. The Conservatives have it in their heads that their idea is the only good idea. They are not prepared to hear that a problem needs to be fixed as quickly as possible. We are even proposing a very inexpensive solution. The problem could be solved very quickly. Unfortunately, once again there is obstruction. They are not interested because it is not their idea. I just cannot understand that.

We have an opportunity to solve a problem, to educate the community, to listen to society and to make it possible for our volunteer firefighters to do their job in any circumstances. The government must set an example. The bill will not necessarily have repercussions for SMEs, but it does set an example.

The provinces have clearly taken a position by pointing out that volunteer firefighters are essential and that their work should not be hindered. Why does the federal government not do the same and set an example?

The Conservatives want to set an example by establishing a volunteer firefighter tax credit, but they are not willing to set an example with a bill. Tax credits for volunteers is a good idea. I tabled a bill in that regard. I completely agree with it. However, first and foremost, I would like to see volunteer firefighters protecting communities in emergency situations—like the one that recently affected our seniors or the train disasters—instead of being told by their employer that he would rather see them working at the office than saving people's lives by fighting a fire. That is wrong.

Support for Volunteer Firefighters Act February 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour of rising to speak to a vital topic. We need to get to the heart of the issue so that we can help volunteer firefighters, who are so essential to our communities.

We find ourselves in a rather unusual situation where civilian first responders are being kept from performing their duties. We must start with mutual respect and an understanding of what is required if we want society to function and if we want current dynamics to be respected. I was dumbfounded to learn that a bill had to be introduced because the private sector is keeping volunteer firefighters from doing their work.

This is a worthwhile bill that will cost the federal government very little. It can send a clear message to the private sector that all forms of volunteer work and civic engagement—especially in essential sectors—are necessary and should be encouraged. Individuals engaged in such work should not be impeded, intimidated or ignored.

I am my party's philanthropy critic, and this situation does not apply only to volunteer firefighters, but also to everyone involved in the community and volunteer sectors. If we start impeding people from contributing to the well-being of society over the long term, our society will be weaker and poorer as a result. It will be dangerous.

When volunteer firefighters are dealing with a crisis, whether it is a flood or fire, the standards are becoming increasingly restrictive. Services in the municipalities are increasingly professional. Volunteer firefighters are required to be more and more effective and they must all participate, without exception. If 18 firefighters are called to an emergency, they must all participate. How can we accept that one or two people are prevented from being there during an emergency?

That is what is happening now. People who work for private companies and government services are prepared to put their personal lives aside to help others, to support them and save them. They are there for us during a flood or a train explosion, when there are victims and consequences, as we have seen.

If firefighters in every municipality had not come out because of the restrictive standards, what would have happened? Unfortunately, our community does not have the means to hire full-time firefighters.