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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 18% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply May 31st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal Party colleague for his question.

The fact is that there are many specialized jobs in certain fields. There is a risk that these people will leave their regions because of the serious economic downturn. There will be job losses. It will become a vicious cycle.

Entrepreneurs who have skilled employees will have to replace them with people who do not have the necessary skills. They will have to train them. This will represent costs for companies. It will destroy the seasonal industries because they are genuine industries. These are not people taking advantage of a situation.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the economic reality in the Upper North Shore is that the major industry was forest related. The people of the Upper North Shore are now developing economic activities in tourism, ecotourism and biomass. Many projects are underway.

At the moment, however, people are leaving the Upper North Shore and surrounding areas. They were already experiencing problems in accessing employment insurance because the government had put an end to the transitional measures. What is happening now is worse still. It will become even more difficult for people to collect employment insurance and their income will drop in winter. The fact is that they need this social safety net, and they need time for their economy to be restructured.

What is happening at the moment is the destruction of the economy in these regions.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, that is not the reality for many regions. That demonstrates ignorance about a lot of regions. In many places, you need to travel more than 100 km to find a job. From one end to the other of the Upper North Shore is at least 100 km. The same goes for the whole territory. People who live in Sacré-Coeur cannot move to Forestville because there is no work in Forestville. They have to travel even farther, to Baie-Comeau or Sept-Îles. The same goes for Saguenay. So it is simply false.

If the objective is to force people to go somewhere to work, under the pretext that some of them just want to sit back and take advantage of EI, we are not going to help them by destroying employment insurance. We know the carrot and stick approach, but we are not going to encourage people to go to work by using a sledgehammer instead of a stick; we have to use the carrot instead.

Business of Supply May 31st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst for drawing our attention to seasonal industry. What we are talking about is the economy. This is an industry. It is a fact of life in our regions. This far-reaching change to employment insurance is going to destroy that industry. The harm has already begun.

This is a fact of life in our regions. There are people who are starting to leave because they know they will not be able to stay there; their plans for the future for their regions will simply be dead in the water. They want to make a go of it.

Since being elected as the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, I have tried repeatedly, as have many people in my riding, to communicate with the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development so we could meet with her and explain how things are in our region. Things on the upper north shore and in Charlevoix are not the same as they are in Quebec City or Montreal or Toronto or Calgary. Things are different. We wanted to talk to her about our concerns about employment insurance well before this plan to destroy it.

We tried to contact the minister by mail, by email and by telephone. We planned a meeting with her assistant. The result was a telephone meeting that was quite simply quickly forgotten and gave the impression that it was simply to stall for time.

I am more concerned than ever for the people of my riding, for the families who live on the upper north shore and in Charlevoix. Does the government realize it is causing an exodus from those regions?

I was talking with someone from Les Escoumins. She told me that when she went to get a coffee at the convenience store, the cashier told her that six people that day had let her know they were leaving the region to go and work in Sept-Îles, a city more than 100 km from Forestville or Les Escoumins.

Is this how the Conservatives deal with all the issues before them? Do they always go it alone? Do they always run the country as they like, with no consultation, without meeting with the people who are directly affected by this measure? Has the minister ever once set foot in Charlevoix? Has she ever gone to the upper north shore? Yes, Charlevoix and the upper north shore look nice on a postcard, but the people who live there see the landscape in a whole different way.

The government has to stop playing with numbers, because at this point its calculations are pitiful. It is not taking into consideration the regional economy, the reality of the lives of these people who are developing economies after the losses in the forestry industry and a declining tourism industry. The people are making plans and developing an economy so they can make a go of it.

I have a list of people I have met with on this issue. A lot of them would like to meet with the minister to explain the situation to her. We are prepared to cover her costs. We want her to meet with people. That is one of the duties of a minister and a member. We want the minister to come to us, but perhaps not in an F-35.

The Conservatives have completely lost touch with their human side. All that matters is their cronies and big business. That is all that counts.

There is another resident in my riding who works for an extermination company. There are very few bugs from January to March. There are not many insects. With three children at home, this resident needs money. What should he do? Go and work for a competitor? The competitors have no more jobs to offer than anyone else. Going to work for a competitor will mean that he will have to leave his employer. If an employee wants to climb the ladder in the business, he has to be able to trust his employer, and this trust has to be reciprocated by the employer.

Clearly, many sectors of our economy in the regions are seasonal, and there is not enough work in the winter to cover this period of the year where people are on employment insurance.

The Conservative government has climbed into bed with management and the rich and is abandoning workers. The government lacks an overall vision when it comes to the regions. It should trust the elected representatives who represent that segment of the population. I thought that that was something that the current Prime Minister wanted to achieve at one point, by giving more power to members.

Actions speak louder than words. Are we to conclude that the Conservative government is trying to divide the regions, to divide east and west? In eastern Canada, the sectors of economic activity in many municipalities are seasonal. The government is attacking the resource regions, which inevitably have to contend with work cycles. I would really like to know what regions the Conservatives were referring to when they said that they wanted to give the regions power.

To give you a better idea, here is what is really happening in Charlevoix. I have before me a regional overview prepared by the Charlevoix Mouvement Action-Chômage. For several years, the Charlevoix economy has been in bad shape. The population is not well educated, over 40% of the residents have no high school diploma; the employment rate is anemic, unemployment is verging on 15%; and the average person's income barely exceeds $21,000.

Charlevoix’s economy is based mainly on tourism. Unemployment of varying duration is a fact of life for many households in the region. Wages are low. A benefit rate of 55% of gross earnings leaves seasonal workers in an unstable financial position. Being dependent on weather and tourism, the economy is vulnerable and people are increasingly concerned. The number of hours required to qualify for employment insurance has increased from 420 to 560. That is troubling, particularly when you know that work lasts 12 to 14 weeks for some people. When they do manage to qualify, benefits are not paid long enough for them to make ends meet for the year. There is a black hole. Some people cannot find work in winter because there is not enough for everyone. The economy they want to create there is not established. They need an economic safety net, a social safety net, to proceed with their projects. Some people in the region may go 14 weeks without any income, even if they have children, a house to pay for and grocery bills.

Transitional measures were introduced in 2000. Why were they introduced? Because the map drawn for the purpose of calculating rates did not reflect the actual situation in all the regions. The map has not been redrawn. Since then, pilot projects of all kinds have been introduced across the region. Is that not an indication that the act is ineffective?

Action-Chômage also briefed me, but I am going to go to my conclusion, since I only have a minute of speaking time left.

The following appears on the Service Canada website concerning employment insurance: "The plan is financed by premiums collected from workers and employers. The accumulated funds cover both the benefits paid to unemployed persons and the costs of administration."

Why do budget cuts have to be made to a program that is self-funded? Someone explain that to me. It seems to me, and to many others, that this bank should be highly effective in meeting workers' needs.

Is the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development familiar with the difficulties caused by a tight family budget? I may not be an eminent lawyer or a learned political scientist, but I have personally experienced that situation.

Once I was told at the employment insurance office that if I had been there a week earlier, I would have been eligible for benefits but that, as it was, I was short nine hours. I spent three months without any income, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I believe the minister should listen to the members in this House, who can teach her a great deal and explain the realities of our regions.

Canadian Heritage May 28th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is the minister who is pitting one city against another. When you play with the rules to help your friends, it smacks of bad faith and favouritism.

After spending several years putting together their applications, Tadoussac and Rouyn-Noranda are going to have to look elsewhere in order to fund their projects. The mayors of these two Quebec cities were told that their bids were not good and that they did not meet the criteria. Yet, officials said that the two towns qualified, and even recommended them.

Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages tell us why he decided that these two cities’ bids were not good enough?

Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act May 17th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party seems to want to create two classes of refugees. My colleague spoke brilliantly about this. They may not believe in science, but perhaps the Conservatives believe in astrology. Perhaps they think we can predict the future of potential conflicts and all the rest.

The NDP has a different approach. Perhaps my colleague could talk more about it. Do we need to be flexible, for example, to create a good bill and develop a good process?

Copyright Modernization Act May 15th, 2012

Madam Speaker, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster enabled Canadians to express their views in this House, which is something that the government has not done. This government lacks transparency, refuses to listen to anyone and conceals information. It only listens to big business.

This bill will hurt small and medium-sized businesses in the cultural sector.

Will the government agree to the NDP's amendments to protect small and medium-sized businesses?

Copyright Modernization Act May 15th, 2012

Madam Speaker, my colleague just spoke of a downward spiral, and I get the impression that that has certainly been the case of late.

In my opinion, we need experts to tell us what the problems and solutions are, and what steps to take to avoid these slippery slopes.

Does my colleague think that that is what the Conservative Party is doing?

Copyright Modernization Act May 15th, 2012

Madam Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for Louis-Hébert for the different angle he brought to this debate.

During his speech, particularly at the end, he began talking about the government listening. Did the government listen to us? Did it listen to the people and the experts? I see that, in the House, the majority of the young people, who were born into technology, are on our side, both as members and as assistants. So we have a lot of experts with us and we recommend them. It is a different angle that I wanted to bring. The youth know a lot about this issue, and perhaps we should listen a little more to them.

I am quite sure my colleague can say more about technology, and about youth and this bill.

Privilege May 1st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to respond to the question of privilege raised yesterday by my hon. colleague from Westmount—Ville-Marie.

To begin with, I thank my colleague, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, the House leader of the official opposition, for having risen yesterday, as well as the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska, who, despite being unfamiliar with the facts, also spoke.

Without further ado, I want to offer my sincerest apologies to the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie for the loss of the items that were intended for him. The mistake was entirely mine and I unequivocally acknowledge this now. I wish to make amends to the member as soon as possible. I also want to say that despite the comments made by the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, it was an honest mistake, made in good faith.

The incident occurred more than two months ago now. I learned about it last Thursday, when my assistant informed me of an email received from a member of the staff of the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie who had contacted my office to inquire about a lost parcel.

After personally conducting all the checks—I even went back to my riding office in Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord to inquire about the entire incident—I can confirm that it was indeed an honest mistake, made without malice or any intent to harm or cause prejudice to another person. I repeat: it was an unfortunate mistake for which I accept full responsibility.

The facts are as follows: the parcel in question, which was addressed to my colleague but mistakenly delivered to my office, was opened by a member of my staff who failed to notice that the parcel was not addressed to me and did not take the trouble to verify the addressee. As my colleagues know, we all receive many letters and parcels, and as everyone will understand, not every piece of mail is necessarily examined carefully. However, that is no excuse.

I also note that the email referred to by my hon. colleague may have added to the confusion. It read, and I quote, "We received the parcel on the member's behalf." The member in question was me. A member of my staff still believed, until yesterday, that the parcel had been addressed to me.

The objects in the package were mistaken for promotional items, such as we all receive at our offices and do not always know what to do with. I usually distribute those kinds of items to the people of Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord. Unfortunately, that is what happened to the items addressed to the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie.

I note in passing that the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie never tried to contact me directly to clarify the matter. The first time he addressed me was in the House on a matter of privilege. I believe this misunderstanding could have been resolved more quickly if he had reached me directly at the earliest opportunity.

Whatever the case may be, I admit that I am entirely at fault in this matter, but I deny any suggestion that this was a wilful act committed out of pettiness or spite. I formally apologize to the member and to the charity affected by this misunderstanding.

To show my willingness to make amends, I formally undertake before this House to pay all costs incurred to rectify the situation. I also promise to make a personal donation to the charity those items were supposed to benefit.