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

Respect for Communities Act November 21st, 2013

Mr. Speaker, it is also surprising that very few Conservatives are taking the time to express their opinions and defend their bill in this debate. I am not quite sure what that means. I have the impression that they feel they have made up their minds, no matter what arguments we, the MPs, and Canadians might put forward. This negates the democratic process and our parliamentary structures.

Can my colleague tell us how important it is to debate such issues?

People who use heroine must first dilute it. Homeless people living on the street may not have any water with them and have to find some. They might resort to using the water from a puddle that could contain oil, or urine or who knows what else. This is a public health hazard; these people can become infected. Others might get infected by using dirty needles. This translates into economic costs for our society, which I find deplorable.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act November 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, since the Conservatives were elected, we have noticed a pattern involving environmental deregulation and a tendency to transfer those powers to businesses. It is a bit like having the fox guard the chicken coop. Businesses are self-regulating when it comes to environmental impacts. We saw this regarding infrastructures that cross waterways and in almost all areas that require environmental assessments.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks of this pattern on the part of the Conservatives.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act November 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the St. Lawrence is part of our heritage. It was at the heart of our communities' development. People settled all along the St. Lawrence and the rivers.

Even today, the St. Lawrence is a large part of the economy of the various counties along it. Back home, fishing is an important industry, but there is also the tourist attraction of mountain landscapes, the river's estuary and its tributaries. Tourists come to see the whales in Tadoussac and the internationally renowned Les Escoumins region. It is a huge tourist draw.

This tourist industry would crumble if an oil spill occurred. An oil spill would also have a significant impact on the environment. The mouth of the Saguenay River and the St. Lawrence River is the larder for large marine mammals. The flora there is exceptional. If an oil spill occurred in the St. Lawrence gulf or estuary, every region would be affected. Therefore, we really need good regulations to protect both this economy and the land.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act November 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the riding of Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord runs along the estuary of the St. Lawrence over a distance of 350 km. This measure therefore concerns and affects a large percentage of the people in my constituency.

I am thinking of the people of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, which, at the time, was one way for the government to reduce the cost of the Coast Guard for Fisheries and Oceans. The government transferred that role to a Coast Guard auxiliary in the various regions.

This is a good idea because it ensures that there are people all over Quebec, and no doubt in the rest of Canada, who can respond to emergency calls. However, there are some particular issues. There are places where they can go only at high tide because they have no docks providing deep sea access at low tide.

There are needs everywhere. People tell me about them and about their concerns. There are a lot of pleasure boats, and several particularly turbulent rivers flow into the St. Lawrence. Consequently, a lot of calls may come from tourists visiting Quebec who are unfamiliar with the region. They need someone who knows the area and who speaks French well because every second counts in an emergency.

Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act November 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether I understood correctly or not, but I think my colleague is saying that the Conservative government is concerned about the cost to businesses of certain regulations, but not about environmental, social or other safety related costs, including the safety of francophones, of the land, Fisheries and Oceans, the Coast Guard and all that. It is a little disconcerting to hear this discourse.

I am also here to speak to Bill C-3, An Act to enact the Aviation Industry Indemnity Act, to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Marine Liability Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. Admittedly the proposed legislation provides for modest improvements to marine safety. During the first session of this Parliament, the NDP suggested that the government broaden the scope of this bill. Our party is prepared to make real changes with a view to protecting our coastlines. The Conservatives, however, rejected our suggestion. That is unfortunate, but it seems the opposition’s opinion matters little to the Conservatives.

Sadly the only legislators who are responsible and concerned about the safety of Canadians are sitting on this side of the House. They are not seated on the government benches, and if there are any such individuals, they are generally muzzled, and by whom? By the Conservative Party financiers.

I want to focus primarily on Part 5 of the bill which has five main components. Part 5 amends the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. It enacts new requirements respecting oil handling facilities, including the requirement on the part of the operator of such a facility to notify and submit plans of the proposed operations to the minister.

The NDP is committed to putting an end to oil spills along our coastlines. We are prepared to make that commitment, unlike the Conservatives who fail to enforce the necessary regulations to prevent spills of this nature. Judging from the Conservatives’ record, it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that they take Canadians’ concerns seriously. They have no credibility whatsoever when it comes to marine and aviation safety. Furthermore, their policies are contradictory.

On the one hand, they are shutting down the Coast Guard station in Kitsilano and cutting environmental emergency response programs, while on the other hand, they are demanding more of the marine transportation system. It is all well and good for them to expand requirements, but they also need to assume their responsibilities.

I would like to remind this House that the Conservatives closed the St. John’s maritime centre and they still want to shut down the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre, the one and only bilingual centre in all of Canada. We must not forget the closing of the maritime radio stations across the country. I am thinking of the maritime radio station in Rivière-au-Renard, which is an excellent example.

Bill C-3 is a barely concealed attempt to offset past inaction and the Conservatives’ cuts to maritime safety. The measures set out in Bill C-3 to improve safety are relatively feeble considering the risks that exist because of all these closures. With all its tributaries, the St. Lawrence estuary is one of the most dangerous in the world and furthermore much of the marine traffic is French-speaking. Right now, traffic on the St. Lawrence is increasing, but services are decreasing. Before now, a number of different call centres knew the territory, and they are gradually being closed down. The government is even threatening to close the Quebec City centre. If that ever happened, there would certainly be deaths. The government that made that decision would be accountable.

The U.S. Coast Guard is studying the effects of the higher number of oil tankers on the west coast and their larger size, given the fact that the increased traffic increases the risk of an oil spill. The United States is taking these risks seriously, while the Minister of Natural Resources is taking the opposite tack, saying that everything is safe, despite the expected increases in oil tanker traffic.

“A supertanker oil spill near our shores would threaten [the] coastal economy and thousands of jobs,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.

The NDP members hope that Bill C-3 would really increase safety in oil tanker traffic. The Conservative government should have taken the opportunity to cancel the cuts in the most recent budgets—we remember them—as well as the marine security program closures.

Some of the measures that the NDP wants to see in a bill that aims at protecting Canada’s waters include the following.

First, the government must cancel the closures and cuts to Coast Guard services, including the Kitsilano Coast Guard station.

Second, the government must cancel the cuts to marine communications and traffic services, including the maritime traffic control communications terminals in Vancouver and St. John’s.

Third, the government must cancel the closure of the British Columbia regional office for oil spill emergencies.

Fourth, the government must cancel the cuts to the Centre for Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research.

Fifth, the government must cancel cuts to the principal environmental emergency programs, including in the event of oil spills in Newfoundland and British Columbia.

Sixth, we must strengthen the capacity—which is currently non-existent—of petroleum boards to deal with oil spills, as recommended by the Commissioner of the Environment. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board needs to acquire the internal expertise to manage a major spill with an independent safety regulator.

Seventh, the Canadian Coast Guard must be required to work with its American counterparts. Studies have already been conducted in the United States. We could work with the Americans to see what must be done, what regulations are required and how to make the structure of our supertankers as secure as possible. The Coast Guard therefore needs to conduct a parallel study with its American counterparts to examine the risks associated with additional oil tanker traffic through Canadian waters.

Rather than implementing half measures when it comes to responding to and monitoring oil spills as proposed in this bill, an assessment must be done of the national ship-source oil pollution fund, which has not been used in a long time.

For 40 years, oil tankers were prohibited from travelling along the coast of British Columbia. This moratorium was imposed as a result of a verbal agreement with British Columbia. Nothing was put in writing. The NDP's call for a ban on oil tanker traffic through this corridor has the support of first nations communities; local and regional elected officials; the tourism, leisure and fishing industries; other industries that may be affected; and over 75% of British Columbians.

I would like to add one thing about all of our demands. The first nations are concerned about all this deregulation and the cuts to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Coast Guard. Tourism industries, particularly Quebec's Gaspé and North Shore regions and all of the maritime provinces that make a living from this industry, are concerned about the impact that an oil spill in the St. Lawrence gulf and estuary would have. Given all the currents and the unique nature of this gulf and estuary, an oil spill would be a major catastrophe. It would quickly spread to all the gulf's ecosystems, which would harm the fishing and tourism industries, as well as the entire economy of these regions.

It is therefore important to carefully think this through. Before going down this road, the Conservatives should think about what could happen in order to prevent deaths and a great deal of environmental damage in my region.

Respect for Communities Act November 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier gave a very nice speech on what the Conservatives are trying to hide from us. She talked about the Conservatives’ economy. We know the Conservatives’ economy is only on paper. We are not talking about an economy that would bring in any money.

Earlier, a Conservative MP told us that he had been attacked by someone who was on drugs. In all likelihood, if this person had been in a centre, he would not have attacked him. I therefore think that the proposed legislation is contrary to public safety. Could my colleague discuss this in a little more detail?

Respect for Communities Act November 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative member may have worked with youth, but he is not the only one. I, too, have done work with youth shelters and street outreach workers, who often meet people involved in the drug scene to try and get them to leave it.

There is broad consensus in Quebec: the best way to do that is to offer people places where they can meet with someone who is there to help them get out of that hell.

If they do not have an appropriate spot, there will still be the parks, the barns and all of those other places where we do not want to see those people. That is my comment. I find the member's attitude appalling.

The Environment October 28th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, my colleagues questioned the government about the gradual disappearance of beluga whales.

After the foolish response from the Minister of the Environment, who obviously did not know what she was talking about, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans told us not to worry. She said that research is continuing. The problem is that the cuts to the Maurice Lamontagne Institute will result in lower-quality research. The ecotoxicology laboratory is closed and the research position has been eliminated.

Who in the department is going to do the research?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2 October 24th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, Liberals and Conservatives alike have figured out how to take advantage of the EI fund. They can take money directly out of the fund to eliminate deficits elsewhere, or, once that scheme is uncovered and it becomes politically difficult to keep up, they reduce the premium rate to make it appear as though the program is not working and is running a deficit, especially if they have taken from it.

That leads people to believe that the program is not working. This justifies the cuts and the content of the latest employment insurance bills, which particularly affects the people of my riding and all of eastern Quebec and Canada.

By leaving the premium rate in the hands of the minister, the Conservatives can increase or reduce it at their whim, depending on whether or not they want to take money out of the EI fund.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 2 October 24th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I think they know how to funnel money to their friends and to Conservative Party campaign contributors. They know how to manipulate the laws to do that.

As for venture capital funds, yesterday, the presidents of the FTQ and the CSN came to meet with people in Ottawa to suggest an agreement that would prevent the pillaging of millions of dollars from venture capital funds. They were open to investing more money in Canada and Quebec—outside Quebec too—and suggested investing $2 for every dollar of tax credit. However, this suggestion was turned down.

I hope that the Conservatives will wake up one day. The CSN and the FTQ said that they would continue to negotiate because this made no sense, since our economy sees a direct return on the money invested in these funds. It is good for the Canadian economy as a whole. They said they would continue to negotiate to find some common ground. I hope that the Conservatives will not keep their blinders on and that they will be open to maintaining this investment.