House of Commons photo


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

Senate Reform Act November 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the fact that, ultimately, a bill is being brought forward to keep the Senate and have basically the same thing we have now. As well, it will be more expensive in the short, medium and long terms than it is at present. It is often said that in a democracy, money is never invested badly, but in this case, are the Conservatives being good managers?

Senate Reform Act November 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, my question concerns the attitude of the government toward the fact that one voter out of three voted for the Conservatives. We have to expect that even some of those voters were opposed to this bill.

I would like my colleague to comment on that. What are the Conservatives trying to do by limiting the number of hours of debate on this bill?

Senate Reform Act November 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, the bill definitely would not pass. We do not know what kind of parliamentary system the people want. They deserve to make that decision and they deserve a thorough debate about the future form of our parliamentary system, our House and our Senate.

Senate Reform Act November 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, this is my personal opinion, but the provinces might simply propose names. Instead of investing money, they will give the Prime Minister the names of people they know, or people who have an interest in this election. The last word will go to the same person as today: the Prime Minister. He is the one who will decide who participates in the Senate election. It comes down to trading four quarters for a dollar.

Senate Reform Act November 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, the consequence of this bill will be to create the illusion that something has been settled, but nothing will have changed. Senators would be elected on a partisan basis. Ultimately, nothing will have changed. Before our democracies were established, one segment of the population made the decisions. Now, everyone does. One segment of the population decided how our parliamentary system was going to operate. Today, I think we have got to a point where everyone must express an opinion. In an election, everyone gives an opinion about the relatively near future. The same should be true for something that is so important and that will last a long time. We are going to be living with this parliamentary system until the next reform. There must be a referendum involving all Canadian citizens.

Senate Reform Act November 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, I am not necessarily pleased to take part in the debate on this legislation, because the government is trying to force it down our throat. We, on this side, simply want a real indepth debate on this issue, but the other side wants to very quietly pass a bill dealing with the future of our country and of our parliamentary system. Our parliamentary system exists to discuss bills that will change our country, settle issues and bring solutions. Today, and in recent weeks, we have been presented with what seem primarily to be partisan tools for the party in office, while we on this side want to deal with issues.

Bill C-7 is about the Senate, the chamber of sober second thought. This makes me laugh because, historically, the Senate has never played that role. It has never done its job. Right now, they are trying to trade four quarters for a dollar. They want to change a Senate that does not do its job and whose members are appointed on a partisan basis. Under the new process, senators will still be appointed in a partisan fashion. An election will take place, but the candidates will have been selected in a partisan fashion.

Today's debate on the Senate gets me thinking more seriously about our democracy, our division of powers, our parliamentary system, our form of representation, our electoral practices, our media—which are part of our democracy—and about the Conservative government's attitude towards democracy.

I agree that we can choose the type of democracy that we want in Canada. Everyone agrees. This is a healthy debate and it is about our future. However, whose decision is it to make? Getting back to democracy, about one person in three voted for the current government. Do they all agree with the whole agenda proposed by the Conservative Party? For example, do they all support abolishing the firearms registry? Do they all support Senate reform? Do they all support the justice bill and all the other bills that were introduced recently with very short debates and closure?

What we are asking for regarding our democracy is that people be able to take part in this debate and express their concerns. This must be done through a referendum. Other countries have held referendums on important national issues. We should do the same.

As I was saying earlier, our Senate is there essentially to ensure there is some sort of division of powers, to ensure some representation of the regions and minorities in Parliament. Nonetheless, this has never been the case and now the government does not want to do anything about it.

I want to come back to the division of powers. As far as our electoral practices are concerned, in addition to the related costs, if we ask our provinces to choose candidates for the Senate elections, we are simply transferring the partisan decision to the provinces instead of to the federal government, but it remains a partisan decision nonetheless. What is more, the Prime Minister in power when the elections are held and the nominees are chosen has the last word. In the end, nothing changes.

If we look at what happens in other countries where there are two chambers, we see that in the United States, it is a source of division that borders on chaos.

In the event that the two chambers do not agree, there will be constant obstruction and a host of strategies to defeat what the government is proposing in the other chamber, and even sometimes, for partisan reasons, to oppose certain bills, despite how much they matter to the entire country, simply because it was the other institution that introduced them.

In my opinion, this could happen here if the government goes ahead with this reform. We have to avoid that situation, especially considering there is going to be an election in the House of Commons every four or five years and in the Senate every nine years. The elections will therefore not be held at the same time and people will not necessarily vote for governments that are able to work together.

I have some examples. A constituent in my riding told me he voted for the Conservative Party in 2011 for one reason only and that was because he wanted to get rid of the firearms registry. The New Democratic Party wants to keep the registry. He then said that once that was done, since he is not in favour of any of the Conservative Party's other plans, he would vote for an intelligent government. He did not come right out and say it was our party, but he was not referring to the Conservative Party he voted for in 2011.

There are always going to be attitudes like that and we must not judge people for it. But if people vote for a party for one reason only and that creates situations where the parties cannot agree, it will always be a source of conflict and chaos in our parliamentary system.

On the question of the costs associated with this reform, we see that the plan is to transfer the costs of selecting nominees to the provinces. It talks about our democracy, our federal parliamentary system, but the plan is to transfer the costs to the provinces. To me, that is illogical and almost absurd. If we are not prepared to make changes to our parliamentary system and at the same time assume responsibility for the repercussions in terms of the cost, then let us find other solutions or let us not do it.

As well, a second chamber, which I think is pointless for the reasons I have stated, would also cost even more, because over a long period of time, more senators will have spent time in that chamber and more senators will be entitled to retire with a pension paid for by that chamber. Those are all costs associated with this reform.

The problem right now is that we have a government that is proposing something that it wants to slip past us. As I have often said, we are talking about the future. I would like the government to consider that we are talking about something quite important right now and that we have to do more than this; we have to ask the public whether they support it. There may be other methods, but there is one obvious one: a referendum. Every citizen could say what they think. Every citizen could say whether it is a good idea or not and there would be a thorough debate before the referendum on Senate reform was held.

In Canada, a majority of provinces have stated a position and agree with the NDP that this bill is absurd. For example, Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, and Darrell Dexter, Premier of Nova Scotia, have publicly called for the Senate to be abolished. The premier of British Columbia has said that the Senate plays no useful role in our Confederation. Manitoba has also maintained its position on abolishing the Senate, stating that it had a plan if it happened, but obviously, if it happens, there will be no choice but to live with that decision. So decisions about this have to be made.

Quebec has already called this bill unconstitutional. All Quebec actually wants is separation of powers. That is a debate we should have by holding a referendum.

Senate Reform Act November 22nd, 2011

Madam Speaker, we are talking about the future of and major plans for our democracy, such as the number of seats in this House, for instance.

Altogether, we will have debated this bill for a few weeks. I would like to know what my colleague thinks of the practice of reducing the number of people giving their opinions, both within Parliament and outside these walls. I wonder if my colleague could elaborate on this.

Business of Supply November 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we have seen where their priorities lie. Perhaps there was one bill that did not pass because of the election, but the government began by focusing on omnibus bills, such as the one on crime, for example, instead of presenting concrete measures to fix aboriginal issues.

I have a specific question. This morning, I heard that the government supported the Liberal motion. Will the government still support it, even with the amendment? And will the government commit to taking tangible action and putting its heart and soul into fixing the problem, and not just for the photo ops or for scoring political points at the expense of aboriginal peoples?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act November 15th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, in debating Bill C-13, we can talk about how little the Conservative Party is proposing. We can also talk about what the Conservative Party is not doing. We can also talk about the promises the Conservative Party has broken during this Parliament and previous Parliaments. I will focus on only one aspect.

We have to remember the date of May 7, 2007. Hon. members might not remember that date. Although I am new, I certainly remember it. Following a promise in the previous budget to fight tax evasion, the current Minister of Finance made an about-face at the time and said that he was not able to fight tax evasion after all.

Where do the Conservative government's interests lie? Do they lie in defending all Canadians or the interests of Conservative taxpayers?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act November 15th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague. To begin, I heard a comment earlier that I did not think was very fair. I am also new in the House and I was fortunate enough not to be caught up in corruption. I think that is something that works in our favour.

In the Haute-Côte-Nord region, in my riding, the unemployment rate is over 10%. Measures were cut, but there was nothing to make up for the cuts. What is being done for the silviculture, forestry and fishery industries? What is being done to take into account the realities in the regions? Not much.

If the government wants to give power to the regions, it will have to work with them, because right now, that is not one of its strengths. There is also talk of the oil pipeline right now. There were refinery closures in Quebec. It would be nice to keep jobs here. I have to wonder where the Conservative Party's interests are. I get the impression that they are in the pockets of their party supporters.