House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was ensure.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Saint-Jean (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2021, with 28% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Defence October 23rd, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for giving me an opportunity to talk about a policy that has been warmly welcomed by Canadian Armed Forces members.

On June 7, the minister announced the government's new defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”. Our new policy offers a new vision and a new approach to defence. It is based on an in-depth analysis of the broadest public consultations of the past 20 years about Canada's defence policy.

Throughout the consultation period, Canadians from all walks of life submitted over 20,000 proposals through the online consultation portal. Departmental officials and parliamentarians held round tables and meetings with defence experts, industry representatives, academics, and first nations leaders. Over 50 parliamentarians organized consultations in their communities. We even consulted beyond our borders to include many of our allies and partners.

The minister and other Department of National Defence officials met with their counterparts from around the world. The minister also engaged in discussions in multilateral forums such as NATO and during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in 2016.

Given that several of our allies had recently completed reviews of their own defence policies, it was crucial for us to connect with them to discuss our insights and lessons learned. Their knowledge, observations, and ideas were carefully considered, and our new policy is the culmination of everything we heard.

I would like to take a moment to thank all of those who held consultations in their ridings and regions to support the defence policy review. I would also like to acknowledge the members of the House and Senate committees for the work they did in studying defence issues.

The depth and breadth of the defence policy review, combined with such a high degree of consultation, undeniably enhanced the results and the credibility of the process. We are proud of the defence policy, which is entitled “Strong, Secure, Engaged”. In a nutshell, this policy seeks to balance priorities in an ever-changing reality, invest in our military, and make sure our soldiers and their families are well supported. It offers clear direction on Canadian defence priorities over a 20-year horizon and comes with the resources required to effectively deliver upon them.

Canada needs an agile and flexible military force that can act decisively and get results across the full spectrum of operations. To that end, the new defence policy entitled, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, establishes eight key missions for the Canadian Armed Forces from assisting civilian authorities in disasters and emergencies, to deterring and defending against military threats.

The Canadian Armed Forces will also work with our allies and partners, including the United Nations, NATO and NORAD, to contribute to global stability. In order to follow through on our commitments, annual military spending will increase over the next 10 years, going from $18.9 billion to $32.7 billion annually. The size of the regular force will grow by 3,500 members, and the reserve force will be increased by 1,500.

We will also invest to grow, maintain, and upgrade Canadian Armed Forces capabilities. We will continue to engage Canadians and parliamentarians as we follow through on our commitments.

Patrice Vincent and Nathan Cirillo October 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, three years ago, the lives of two Canadian Armed Forces members were cut short in the tragic events that took place in Saint-Jean and Ottawa.

Canada remembers Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who died on October 20, 2015, leaving behind his grieving family and colleagues.

Some 48 hours later, another senseless attack took a second brave Canadian from us, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was shot while serving as ceremonial honour guard at Canada's National War Memorial.

The members of the Canadian Armed Forces work hard every day to ensure a peaceful environment, sometimes putting their own lives at risk. We are so grateful to them.

Today our thoughts are with the families, friends, and colleagues of Warrant Officer Vincent and Corporal Cirillo. Their bravery and their dedication to our country will never be forgotten.

National Defence October 19th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin for his question and for his interest in education.

The Canadian Armed Forces recently partnered with the Université de Montréal to offer leadership programs beginning this fall for regular forces and reserve members. This high-level training offered in a challenging environment will give participants the skills they need to become better leaders both within the armed forces and in civil society.

National Defence October 17th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I had the opportunity to meet our troops in other countries and here in Canada. Last night, at the leadership dinner for members of the command staff in the capital, I really noticed the enthusiasm of all the military members, but especially that of the chief of the defence staff, General Vance, for this new policy.

For the first time, members of the military feel like they are at the heart of this policy. We are looking after them, their families, their training, and their equipment. For the first time, we have a budget designed to ensure they have this equipment, that is to say fighter planes and ships. This is a far cry from the Conservatives' plans for just six surface ships.

National Defence October 17th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for bringing us back to a question that was first asked five months ago, for the second evening in a row.

I know he listens carefully to our debates, and yes, he was quite right to point out the mistake I made yesterday when I mentioned Daesh. It must have been in the wake of the victory in Mosul under the mandate of the Minister of National Defence.

I appreciate the opportunity the member is giving me to talk about the defence minister's professionalism and unwavering commitment to our men and women in uniform and our armed forces as a whole. In that regard, as I told the member opposite on May 9, the minister worked very hard on developing a new defence policy following the most extensive consultation process in the past 20 years. That policy was released last June. Our friends opposite have not said a word about it. Our colleagues opposite are not talking about the new policy because it is good news for all members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families.

We absolutely understand that without them, without their dedication and conviction, and without the support of their families, Canada cannot achieve its defence objectives. That is why we have put them at the heart of our new defence policy. Today, the minister, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defence are focusing all their attention on implementing our policy. This policy lays out a bold vision for ensuring the protection of our fellow citizens, guaranteeing security in North America, and promoting Canada's engagement with the world.

Our plan is an ambitious one, containing no fewer than 128 separate initiatives. However, it is above all a realistic, fully costed, and fully funded plan to help Canada meet the defence challenges of today and tomorrow. I have said this more than once in the House, but the Minister of National Defence has one priority, which is to ensure that our soldiers get the support, training, and resources they need in order to do what we ask them to do. The Minister of National Defence has been a particularly effective spokesperson, given that defence spending will increase by close to 70% over 10 years under the new policy.

Thanks to that stable, predictable funding, we have undertaken one of the biggest modernization efforts in decades. We will replace our surface ship fleet by investing in 15 Canadian surface combatants and two joint support ships. We will replace our existing CF-18 fleet with 88 fighter jets to strengthen our sovereignty and fulfill our NORAD and NATO commitments. We will acquire new joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms. We will stimulate cutting-edge research and innovation in key defence sectors, which will enable our military forces to adapt to rapidly changing technology and maintain interoperability with our allies.

We will take better care of our military personnel and their families. We will invest in recruitment, retention, and training. Those are just some of the steps the Minister of National Defence has taken to better support our troops. The minister is determined to do what needs to be done to ensure the success of our armed forces and defend Canadians' interests, and we see outstanding proof of that every day.

National Defence October 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Defence. I see him as a model to us all.

His missions as a reservist in Bosnia and his three tours in Afghanistan make him an example to us all. We all know he helped fight Daesh. We have seen the praise he received.

The most important thing to keep in mind about the minister is that he has drawn on his experience and held cross-Canada consultations to find out what our soldiers need. Canadians asked us to look after these men and their families during and after their service. They want us to make sure our troops are well trained and have the equipment they need. That is what we are doing.

We have announced new equipment purchases. We will have 88 new fighters and 15 new frigates. Contrary to what the Conservative government did, this equipment will be funded. We will be able to carry out our missions at home and abroad.

National Defence October 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for the question he asked more than five months ago.

As the parliamentary secretary, I have the privilege of working with the Minister of National Defence every day. I can attest to his honesty, integrity, and determination in carrying out his mandate. The minister has the support of the military, his colleagues, and the Prime Minister.

The primary responsibility of the minister and the government is to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces have the training and equipment they need. That is the goal towards which the Minister of National Defence has been striving with singular determination for almost two years now. He is working to discharge his mandate with the greatest respect for our men and women in uniform.

The minister is a proud Canadian with 26 years' experience in the Canadian Army Reserve, during which time he served his country with honour and distinction in four overseas missions. He served on an extraordinary team of Canadian, American, and Afghani soldiers who made Operation Medusa a success.

His commanding officer in Afghanistan, General Fraser, considered him to be one of the best intelligence officers he had ever worked with. He said:

He was the best single Canadian intelligence asset in theatre, and his hard work, personal bravery, and dogged determination undoubtedly saved a multitude of Coalition lives. Through his courage and dedication, [the minister] has single-handedly changed the face of intelligence gathering and analysis in Afghanistan.

Retired British Army colonel, Chris Vernon, said:

[W]ithout [the defence minister's] input as a critical player, major player, a pivotal player I’d say, Medusa wouldn’t have happened. We wouldn’t have the intelligence and the tribal picture to put the thing together.

The Minister of National Defence made a major contribution in his deployments as a reservist and he is making an even greater contribution within our government. He oversaw the most ambitious defence policy review of the past 20 years. He is now overseeing the implementation of more than a hundred initiatives that will ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces are fully able to meet current and future challenges.

He has established solid and effective contacts with all of our allies, including within NATO, and especially with our American neighbours, our most important military and economic partner. With the help of his cabinet colleagues, he has made major improvements to the procurement process.

I am proud of what he has accomplished. I am happy to work by his side, and I am convinced that, thanks to his vision, leadership, and hard work, our government will continue to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces have the tools they need to serve Canada for many years to come.

Committees of the House October 16th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 109, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's official response to the sixth report of the Standing Committee on National Defence entitled, “The Readiness of Canada's Naval Forces", tabled in the House of Commons on June 15, 2017.

Committees of the House October 6th, 2017

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, the government's official response to the 30th report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts entitled, “Report 5—Canadian Armed Forces Recruitment and Retention—National Defence”, of the 2016 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada, tabled in the House of Commons on June 8, 2017.

Committees of the House October 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I have two documents to table.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, the government's official response to the 29th report of the Standing Committee on National Defence entitled, “Report 7—Operating and Maintenance Support for Military Equipment—National Defence”, of the 2016 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada, tabled in the House of Commons on June 8, 2017.