House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Compton—Stanstead (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 27% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that my colleague brought up the topic of children, which is something I wanted to talk about in the rest of my speech. They are our most important assets. We often hear in stories about sex offenders that they were victims themselves as children.

However, as I was saying, these are young disadvantaged children. How can we ensure that these children are properly clothed and fed? We need to ensure that our economy is flourishing and that every citizen can be a contributing member of society. We need to give everyone a chance. That is not the case right now, unfortunately.

Why do we need to focus on our children? Could my colleague from Pontiac tell us more about that?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in many places, volunteers run rehabilitation, awareness and crime prevention programs.

With help from underpaid professionals when possible, these volunteers provide awareness and support programs, for example, food banks, for people living in poor areas.

It has come to that because previous governments have failed in their duty. They abandoned the middle class and that is where we are today. We have to crack the whip and impose law and order, when we should be acting methodically to ensure that everyone feels like a contributing member of a modern society such as Canada.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

The government even had the audacity to cut funding for Correctional Service Canada programs that reintegrate and rehabilitate offenders. That is an insult to Canadians' intelligence. The government does not walk the talk.

In labour relations, you work with the victim and the offending party. Both parties are dealt with separately. However, special attention is paid to the causes of the problem.

Earlier I was saying that Canada's social fabric is weakening. The Liberals began this process before the Conservatives, especially with respect to employment insurance, old age security and social housing.

When dealing with individuals, we always have to consider their background and find a way to reintegrate them, when possible, into a healthy and productive environment so that they can continue to live in our society. Today, we need every person in our society.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the esteemed member for Pontiac.

For a first speech on a bill this fall, there are some subjects that are particularly sensitive and affect us as individuals, regardless of political affiliation. We often work in a collegial manner, but just now, a few hours or barely a few minutes ago, I heard some unfortunate comments. That primarily shows that we are dealing with sensitive subjects and that it is easy to misinterpret such comments. I have friends in every party and we are able to discuss and accept our differences and our opinions. That is how things should always be in the House.

First of all, I am going to look at some technical aspects and also talk about some associated aspects and social implications of the bill. Unlike some of my colleagues, I am not qualified to speak to speak in detail about the legal aspects of the bill, and I would not be so presumptuous as to give the kind of speeches that they do. However, I would like to primarily address the social aspects and the repercussions of such issues as delinquency, especially assaults against minors. I will also talk about the technical aspect.

The bill before us will amend the Criminal Code in order to increase mandatory minimum penalties and maximum penalties for certain sexual offences against children. It will increase maximum penalties for violations of prohibition orders, probation orders and peace bonds. It will clarify and codify the rules regarding the imposition of consecutive and concurrent sentences. It will require courts to impose, in certain cases, consecutive sentences on offenders who commit sexual offences against children. It will ensure that a court that imposes a sentence must take into consideration evidence that the offence in question was committed while the offender was subject to a conditional sentence order or released on parole.

The bill will also amend the Canada Evidence Act to ensure that spouses of the accused are competent and compellable witnesses for the prosecution in child pornography cases. I would like to point out that it is difficult to get family members to testify in some areas. The necessary consent is rarely given. I am therefore wondering how a mechanism can be put in place to implement that amendment.

The bill will also amend the Sex Offender Information Registration Act to increase offenders' responsibilities when they travel abroad. The bill enacts the high risk child sex offender database act, which would create a publicly accessible database. This database would contain information, previously made available to the public by police departments or any other public authority, on individuals who were convicted of sex crimes involving children and who pose a high risk of committing sex crimes.

In the past, we have heard stories of neighbours banding together to serve their own brand of justice. That is rather disturbing, but it is sometimes the result of a lack of resources or a lack of solutions to certain problems. We will see how this will be enforced.

Of course, this bill will make consequential amendments to other acts. We see this all the time from the Conservatives—all we see are quasi-omnibus bills.

As I was saying, the short title of this bill, the tougher penalties for child predators act, does nothing to simplify such a sensitive topic and especially not the process this bill is going through.

Recently, the Conservatives have been enacting bills and implementing various provisions, but not allocating any resources. As a result, the provinces and territories are left to cope with the collateral damage and the financial consequences. The Conservatives introduce measures but they are not supported by budgets. That is despicable. As I said, measures like these have significant social repercussions if there is no budget for the reintegration of offenders and especially for victims. I am no expert, but I would say that some offenders can be rehabilitated, while others cannot. However, as I said, I am no expert on the subject.

This bill would implement nine important measures. It would require offenders who are convicted of sexual offences and who receive separate sentences to serve them consecutively, and it would require offenders who are convicted of child pornography offences and sexual offences to serve their sentences consecutively.

The government is also increasing minimum and maximum prison sentences for certain sexual offences involving children. We have often heard about people writing in blogs or on social media that so-and-so was convicted of assault, that the sentence was not long enough or that it was unfair. Then the offender is back on the street, in the same neighbourhood. I hope that the provisions in this bill will ensure that these unfortunate situations are not repeated. There is a ripple effect when a bill is implemented. There are consequences that impact society and the communities.

The bill would also ensure that committing an offence while subject to a conditional sentence order, or while on parole, on statutory release or on an unescorted temporary absence is also considered an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

The government also says that it is important to render a spouse compellable. I said earlier that it is often quite difficult to do that, whether in cases of child pornography or other offences that the spouse, children, parents or friends witnessed. It all depends on the context and their particular lives.

The Conservative government has been destroying our social fabric for years now. We were talking about food banks recently. Some regions are left to fend for themselves. When the social fabric is destroyed and we leave people to their own devices, without hope, all sorts of things can happen in our society. Serious things can happen and people do not know how to react.

Let us look at the principle of sentencing in section 718 of Part XXIII of the Criminal Code. The objectives are to denounce unlawful conduct, deter the offender from committing offences, separate offenders from society where necessary by increasing sentences, but most of all—and I want to emphasize this point—assist in rehabilitating offenders. We talked about this before. Some members have made speeches on this. We have to assist in reintegrating offenders. When we make tougher laws in a country like ours, or in any other industrialized, modern country—earlier, members cited examples from elsewhere in the world—it is important to think about the consequences. We must focus not on the type but rather on the root of the problem. What is the root of the problem? It is isolation, drugs, alcohol, child pornography—which has become quite easy to access with today's social media—and family breakdowns, because the deterioration of the social fabric means that both parents have to work. Sometimes they have to take on two jobs. The children are left at home where they can access whatever they want on the Internet.

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, clearly, subjects such as crime and sexual assault against minors get us really fired up. People get very passionate about this, but there can also be a degree of misunderstanding. The Conservative government just cannot seem to walk the walk.

One of the issues we have raised most frequently since the Conservative government started calling itself the law-and-order government is the need to walk the walk and put up the money, the human and financial resources, for both victims and offenders. Both categories are in the same boat. If there is no rehabilitation, either for the victim or for the offender, regardless of the crime that was committed, and if no money is allocated, no human resources, no means or infrastructure to enable this system to work, then this whole process is pointless. Why does the government have to walk the walk? Why does it always offload the work onto community groups and the provinces? I would like my colleague to comment on that.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 October 30th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague. He raised some important points about wealth indicators in Canada.

For example, in my riding, Sherbrooke is one of the big cities with the highest quality of life in Canada. Even so, there are food banks that can no longer meet the demand. There are homeless people and single-parent families looking for affordable housing.

That means we also have to consider the social fabric of a big country like ours. We have to come up with economic measures that will enable everyone to participate in Canada's economic growth. However, in this budget, the Conservative government seems to have forgotten about a large segment of the Canadian population.

Petitions October 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have here a petition signed by hundreds of people who are imploring the government and Transport Canada to give the Sherbrooke airport the necessary security screening services to operate an air service by adding this airport to the list.

This would allow the City of Sherbrooke to continue using this airport and especially to develop the region, which is badly in need of air service. The petitioners are asking for Transport Canada's support with regard to the review of this decision.

Municipality of Stoke October 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share some good news about my riding.

However, first, I would like to recognize a great Canadian. Germain Nault, a veteran who took part in the Normandy landing, was introduced in the House in June. He passed away on Tuesday, September 23, several days after receiving the prestigious French Legion of Honour. I remember him as a man who said, “let there never be another war”. We will remember him.

Meanwhile, the small municipality of Stoke is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Stoke is one of those places where it is good to live. It has beautiful mountains that can be seen for miles around. It is home to the Canadian cross-country ski and biathlon training centre. The agricultural industry in the area is booming, with companies such as Mario Côté, Ferme Lieutenant, Miellerie Lune de miel, Boulangerie Bertrand and Charcuteries et Salaison Aurèle Théberge, just to name a few. Tomorrow, on Saturday, I will be sampling local products at Oktoberfest.

For 150 years, generations of people have been rolling up their sleeves to build a region that is proud, united in tough times, courageous, prosperous, fertile and faithful to the traditions of hard work, equality and justice. Congratulations to the people of Stoke.

Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act October 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague and acknowledge her contribution to this debate.

Why did the government not split the bill in two as the NDP asked in committee? That would have made it easier to meet the growing needs regarding cyberbullying and the protection of personal information. Those are two very different things. As my colleague said earlier, this bill will allow for the invasion of privacy and we do not know how far it will go. The bill does not set any limits in that regard.

Business of Supply October 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, i would like to ask my colleague whether he believes that a spill or an accident would be a blow, not only to the St. Lawrence River ecosystem, but also to the entire tourism industry and to the economic benefits flowing from the sustainable development on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

This is one of the world's jewels in terms of its ecosystems and navigable waterways. We are on our way to ignoring all the studies that have been done on the port of Gros-Cacouna and to letting the oil companies do what they want once more. We are going to let them determine what the law is in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.