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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

Canada-Honduras Economic Growth and Prosperity Act June 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague from Alfred-Pellan on her excellent speech.

She outlined the social and environmental factors that must be respected when entering into free trade agreements with countries across the globe. Established democracies must be respected when agreements are entered into, and human rights and workers’ rights must be upheld. The countries involved must benefit and evolve into free societies, and in return Canada, too, must benefit.

Can my colleague please elaborate on the importance of humanitarian and social conditions in countries with which Canada negotiates free trade agreements?

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the government has moved another time allocation motion. This is the 67th time. I do not think it is out of concern that the government has imposed 67 time allocation motions in two or three years. I would like to talk about this some more, rather than just about the bill.

Veterans want guidance that will help them during their reintegration, while they are looking for a place to work and trying to become part of society again. Guidance is what they want. Opening the door to the public service is fine, but if the necessary guidance is not there, absolutely nothing is going to be accomplished. There is nothing in the bill about that, so I will stop there.

Sixty-seven time allocation motions. That goes to show that the government is incapable of working with Canadians. When a government is elected with 39% of the vote, that means that 61% of Canadians voted against it. They want to be able to talk to the government. Every time Canadians talk to their government, or try to, the Conservatives take off in the other direction. It is completely ridiculous. It is unacceptable that the government has imposed sixty-seven time allocation motions.

Agricultural Growth Act May 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Alfred-Pellan, who also does a fantastic job.

There are environmental measures, such as removing phosphorus from fertilizers. This extremely important measure has been a big help to Quebec and other areas of Canada.

We also need to adapt to climate change, particularly by buying local and modernizing transportation and equipment. This also requires dedicated people, such as my colleagues from Alfred-Pellan and Drummond, who are prepared to do anything to save agriculture in Quebec and Canada.

Agricultural Growth Act May 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Drummond, who does remarkable work for his riding and our party.

Family farms are the backbone of so many regions, which is why they are so important. Our ancestors left us fertile land all over Quebec and Canada that they began working over 100 years ago. Generations have worked this land. Now, young people are saying that family farms are not an ideal environment for their personal and professional development.

What is more, family farms mean the organic market, traditional agriculture and the diversity and survival of our regions. In my riding, there are areas where 60% of the economic spinoffs come from agriculture and family farms. Those farmers are proud of that.

For example, in the Coaticook region, over half of the economic spinoffs come from the agricultural sector. The family farms there survive because they banded together. These people still believe in their land and assets, and they want to protect them.

We need to have a little more debate on all the ins and outs of Bill C-18, and above all, we need to inject new funds into our family farms to help them survive.

Agricultural Growth Act May 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, after a long wait, I am rising to speak. I was prepared to speak at 3:15 p.m. It is now 5:30 p.m. I apologize for my nervousness and confusion. I have been thinking about this constantly, and I still have many questions about Bill C-18.

Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts relating to agriculture and agri-food is yet another one of these omnibus bills. The Conservatives have practically admitted that it is intended to dazzle us while straying from the real objectives that should have been the focus of an overhaul of the agriculture and agri-food sector.

Of course, our legislation needs to be modernized and updated, but we also need to look at the resources we have and consider the environment and the economy. I will talk about the environment and climate change a bit later.

This bill is proposing changes to nine different laws, seven of which fall under the responsibility of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The other two are under the purview of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. We are talking about nine different laws in a sector that is absolutely vital to our economy. It was once the pride of our economy from coast to coast. It is a critical part of the mix of prosperous activities that feed millions of people, not just in Canada, but also around the world.

This is a complex sector that generates hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits. It is the lifeblood of regions across Canada. Even the most knowledgeable are confounded by this bill. All the issues addressed in Bill C-18, from plant breeders' rights to the consolidation of border security mechanisms, as well as increased access to the advance payments program—the famous APP—certainly deserve debate and a very thorough analysis. We shall see what twists and turns the bill will take. It does deserve special attention.

With respect to plant breeders' rights, the NDP believes that a more orderly and balanced approach is required. We all want to protect our Canadian farmers and public researchers. This sector of activity generates what is known in economic jargon as value-added, as well as hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars.

Although we understand the vital role of intellectual property rights in encouraging innovation—and Canada has always been a leader in innovation—we want to ensure that Canadians have access to their extremely important agricultural heritage and that they can benefit from it. Various stakeholders across the country will be affected by the proposed changes in Bill C-18. For that reason it is important to consider its repercussions and to follow the normal process for studying this bill.

We must not let our farmers and researchers become ensnared in a bureaucratic maze that is already too cumbersome for them.

What is the purpose of the bill? It would amend the Plant Breeders’ Rights Act in order to change various aspects of the plant breeders' rights granted under the act, including the duration and scope of those rights and conditions for the protection of those rights.

In many countries, such as the United States, and even in Europe, the term of the grant of rights may be up to 25 or 30 years. This bill proposes to make it 18 to 20 years. We shall see what impact that will have.

Let us move on to the Feeds Act, the Fertilizers Act, the Seeds Act, the Health of Animals Act and the Plant Protection Act.

The bill would amend the Feeds Act to authorize inspectors to order that certain unlawful imports be removed from Canada or destroyed, authorize the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food to take into account information available from a review conducted by the government of a foreign state when he or she considers certain applications, and authorize the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to issue certificates setting out any information that he or she considers necessary to facilitate certain exports.

Farmers just want to prosper and develop in a healthy environment.

I talked about climate change. In some regions of Canada and elsewhere in the world, but particularly in Canada, these changes are making livestock and crop production more and more difficult. We might have to start importing livestock and wheat and canola, which we have had in Canada for decades. I have not even mentioned floods or drought.

I also talked about the economic environment. At the beginning of the tough winter that Quebec went through, when the temperature started to drop, the price of propane, which is essential to the pork industry and for quick backup heating, went from 39¢ a litre to 72¢ a litre. Up to a certain point, propane was inexpensive. Overnight, heating costs doubled on hog farms throughout Quebec and Ontario. The pork industry is already very fragile. Producers need a prosperous, healthy and economical environment. They need new money.

There is talk of advance payment programs. That is nice. It is certainly useful, but the pork producers in my riding are deep in debt. Their parents and grandparents earned their living raising pigs on ancestral lands. Their families have been there for 100 or 150 years. Now, they no longer have this healthy environment in which to prosper and adequately support their family. They are so deep in debt that they can pay only the interest. They cannot pay down the principal. What are they going to do? They need new money. Bill C-18 makes no mention of new money.

The government says it wants to facilitate free trade. That is nice, but pork producers still need to be able to successfully bring their pigs to market. The same goes for cattle farmers.

For farmers, the cornerstone of the food system is earning a decent living by producing quality food. Above all though, they have to own the means of production.

Seeds are now infertile and sterile. Genetically modified organisms are a serious problem. For large-scale production, that might be a solution. In Quebec, particularly in the Eastern Townships, hundreds of farmers are now farming organically. That segment has seen the strongest growth and has the greatest export potential. However, the government is not doing anything to help them or make their lives easier. There is plenty of demand but not enough supply.

In conclusion, I would say that the bill is not good enough and needs our attention. It is a step in the right direction, but there are serious problems, such as the Monsantos of this world. We absolutely have to take the time to protect our food supply. It used to be 100% Canadian. Today, our farmers own only about 15% of it. That is unacceptable. We have to save our agriculture.

Montreal Canadiens May 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, while the Liberals and the Conservatives—the two establishment parties that re-struck their age-old alliance, the one where Ignatieff gave his full support to Conservative budgets—invented stories and leaked confidential information, Montreal and the entire staff of the official opposition leader's Montreal office were glued to their televisions.

Whether in their living rooms, at bars or in the Bell Centre, they gathered to support their team, the only Canadian team left in the series.

Like the NDP in 2011, the Canadiens were considered the underdogs. Despite everything, they won the hearts of Quebeckers. Like the NDP in 2011, they overcame adversity and the cheap shots, and were more agile, quicker and hungrier than their opponents. Above all, they worked as a team.

If there were only Liberals or Conservatives, there would be only one hockey team in Canada: the Ottawa Senators. We believe that Canadians deserve better: they also deserve the Canucks, Flames, Oilers, Jets, even the Leafs and, who knows, the return of the Quebec Nordiques.

But today, we say: Go Habs Go!

Regional Economic Development May 1st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the residents of Lac-Mégantic, who saw their town reduced to ashes last summer, are about to receive their final employment insurance cheques. A number of those receiving benefits come from Haut-Saint-François, in my riding.

However, the businesses where they used to work are only just starting to be rebuilt. Given those circumstances, the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable himself promised, some weeks ago, that he would be looking for a solution to their problem.

Can the hon. member tell us what solution he has found for those who worked in those SMEs in Lac-Mégantic?

Petitions April 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by hundreds if not thousands of people. The petition was initiated by the Canadian Council for Democracy and calls for the electoral reform to include the recommendations proposed by Elections Canada so that every vote counts and everyone can participate in Canada's democracy.

Employees' Voting Rights Act April 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of all the members who have risen in the House to speak to this bill, whether they are in favour of it or not. It is another show of democracy.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-525, which would amend the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Service Labour Relations Act, specifically with regard to the certification and decertification of the bargaining agent or, more simply put, the union.

This bill would amend the Canada Labour Code and other legislation to provide that the certification and decertification of the union as a bargaining agent under these acts must be achieved by a secret ballot vole-based majority.

However, that already happens. That already happens when the authorities, in other words the Canada Industrial Relations Board, call for it. It seems that is not enough this time. The government does not trust the members of the Canada Industrial Relations Board. Allow me to say a few words as someone who studied at Laval University in Quebec. To sit on the Canada Industrial Relations Board, one has to have certain qualifications, some experience in labour relations, in negotiating collective agreements, and in certification and decertification.

The secret ballot will be mandatory. This is a repudiation of the men and women who have spent most of their working lives maintaining good labour relations and ensuring that there is industrial peace in Canada. Does the government know what it means to have industrial peace in an industrialized country like ours? It means people who go to work, who represent all workers in Canada and ensure that the economy prospers. They co-operate with their employer and with the public service and Parliament. They ensure that we have healthy labour relations and a safe working environment where people are not afraid to get up and go to work in the morning.

I would like to point out that unfortunate actions are often the result of abuse. That is unacceptable in a modern society like ours.

This government seems to be saying that the system that was working before is no longer working. We have been hearing this for some time now. However, the government wants to act undemocratically and violate fundamental human rights and labour rights. As I was saying, a modern society that has respect for the role workers play in its economy must recognize collective bargaining rights and give democracy and protection of labour rights the weight they deserve.

I would remind members that the short title of this bill is the Employees' Voting Rights Act. These rights came out of the evolution of labour law and industrial relations in Canada. Generation after generation of workers fought to give the workforce a greater say and to create a balance of power, in response to employers and working conditions that were often abusive—and sometimes even deadly—as one of our colleagues pointed out recently. I repeat, this is unacceptable in a modern society.

You can bet that my colleagues and I will oppose this bill at report stage and at third reading.

This private member's bill is the sequel to Bill C-377, also a private member's bill. Its purpose is to severely undermine unions by fundamentally changing the certification and decertification process for unions under federal jurisdiction. I want to emphasize that we are talking about unions under federal jurisdiction.

That is where the Canada Labour Code applies. The CLC has been modernized and updated by generations of legislators. This bill goes against that tradition. It attacks a basic human right, the right to freedom of association and expression as embodied by unions. They are the ones who choose it.

This bill will make it harder for workers to unionize and will probably result in more unions being decertified. It will be easier to shut a union down than to start one up. It does not work, it is not fair, it is unacceptable, it is undemocratic, and above all, it is disrespectful.

This Conservative government is in power even though 60% of Canadians voted against it, and the Conservatives govern in what is sometimes a shameful and insolent manner. We can see that today with Bill C-525. It is highly unusual to use a private member's bill to address an issue as important to the exercise of democratic rights as this one.

At present, when a group of employees wants to be represented by a union and decides to form its own union or join an existing union, this union must file an application for certification with the Canada Industrial Relations Board. If the application meets the requirements of the Canada Labour Code, which is rather tedious, complex and demanding, and 50% of the members have signed a card indicating that they want to belong to the union, the union is automatically certified after the cards are checked.

It does not just happen. It takes a lot of hard work and discussions between the group of workers and the bargaining agent, who together decide to create a unit to improve the chances that these workers will have a healthier environment and can enter into agreements with their boss. Collective bargaining allows workers to represent a workforce that contributes to the prosperity of our country. It is a fundamental right in our modern society.

In many workplaces where there is a union, there are lots of projects to improve working conditions, whether in the automotive sector or the textile sector of the past. I say “textile sector of the past” because free trade agreements have unfortunately practically destroyed Canada's textile industry. However, it was because of the economic circumstances, and not because of unions. It is up to the government to put in place laws and infrastructure that allow companies to grow and develop and that encourage economic prosperity.

Thanks to the hard work of the NDP, particularly that of the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie and the member for Newton—North Delta, we managed to get the Conservatives to back down and listen to reason on the most harmful part of this bill. They agreed to amend the worst parts of the bill in committee. At first, the rules put forward by the member for Wetaskiwin stated that anyone who did not participate in the certification vote would be counted as a vote against the creation of the union. However, if it were a question of decertification, anyone absent would be counted as a vote in favour of decertification. That was a brazen and appalling abuse.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1 April 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher for his excellent speech.

He made a good point that this bridge already exists. This is becoming increasingly complicated, and we need to think of new ways to cross the St. Lawrence. We are building a new bridge, if this can be called a new bridge. What are the NDP's suggestions with respect to public transit for this existing crossing?