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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

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

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

Bill C-4, the budget implementation bill, was introduced on Tuesday. That same evening, the government provided a briefing on the bill in English only. Since it was in English only, which is against the rules, the Conservatives had to start over last night, after the debate had already started. When the second presentation on Bill C-4 was given—this time in both languages—the Conservatives themselves admitted that they had not consulted everyone affected by the bill. The Conservatives are not doing their job. Their measures are flawed, haphazard, amateurish and disrespectful.

What is more, the Conservatives are once again imposing a time allocation motion. They are allocating only five days of debate to a third, botched omnibus bill that is 300 pages long and amends dozens of laws, many of which have nothing to do with the budget.

This shows just how little respect the Conservatives have for our democracy and our parliamentary structures. This lack of respect clearly demonstrates that the Conservative government is old and worn out and has no vision for the future of Canada and our various regions.

Once again, parliamentarians must debate and examine important changes, including some meant to correct errors made by the Conservatives themselves. This government is attacking Canadians' quality of life by gutting environmental protections, raising the price of consumer goods and doing nothing to protect consumers. Furthermore, the Conservatives have failed to kick-start the economy and create high-quality jobs.

With this bill, the Prime Minister is once again undermining the government's ability to help and protect Canadians. Workers are the ones who will suffer the consequences.

The most substantial and most reprehensible changes in the latest budget implementation bill will affect Canada's labour environment. This bill fundamentally changes Canadians' right to a healthy and safe working environment.

When workers' health and safety is being attacked, there is a problem. Yet that is exactly what this bill does. Indeed, it removes the powers granted to health and safety officers by the Canada Labour Code and gives those powers to the minister. Do the members opposite really believe that taking basic protections away from workers will go unnoticed?

In addition, it will be harder for employees to refuse to work in dangerous conditions. The NDP firmly believes that no worker should ever be forced to work in dangerous conditions. Why place nearly all powers related to health and safety in the hands of the minister? It is likely in order to be able to place employees and send them wherever the minister wants to send them.

We definitely see a pattern in the government's decisions in recent years. Employment insurance is an excellent example. The bill eliminates the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board and gives the Minister of Finance the power to manipulate rates. Having an independent and accountable body to oversee EI financing was in fact a Conservative promise. Now that promise has been broken. This is just one more broken promise.

People from Charlevoix, the upper north shore, many regions in Quebec and the Maritimes remember the back-to-back Liberal and Conservative governments that shamelessly pillaged $57 billion from the employment insurance fund, that artificially pushed premiums too high to surreptitiously tax people, or that artificially dropped premiums too low to prove that the program did not work and needed to be cut. Workers deserve better.

The bill also extends the $1,000 hiring tax credit for small business. The NDP proposed a $2,000 hiring tax credit that would not come out of the employment insurance fund and that would help businesses hire and train young workers.

The Quebec economy is built on small and medium-sized businesses. They create jobs in the regions. Côte-de-Beaupré, Île d'Orléans, Charlevoix, the upper north shore and Quebec City are no exception. There is also the fact that so many of our industries are seasonal. However, this government does not seem to care about our communities.

This bill also affects National Research Council Canada. Once again, the government is gutting a Canadian institution, just as it gutted some of our most respected scientific research institutions, just as it fired some of Canada's best scientists and researchers without consulting the scientific community and without evaluating the potential consequences on Canada's scientific capability and its international reputation. Myriad experts, scientists and civil servants were muzzled or fired for not toeing the Conservative line.

The budget implementation bill has the National Research Council in the crosshairs. The Conservatives are cutting nearly half the jobs, but are giving the president, whom they appoint, more authority. Wow, bravo.

The Conservatives made a mistake when they increased taxes on credit unions. This bill proposes changes to fix that mistake, which was made when they rammed the omnibus budget bill through the House.

As result of this mistake, credit unions were facing a tax hike of 28% rather than 15%. On this side of the House, we are very disappointed to see that the Conservatives have not learned from their mistakes and that they are once again using an omnibus bill. It was a bad decision to raise credit unions' taxes, but the Conservatives like raising taxes secretly or on the sly.

The NDP has been fighting tax evasion since the party was created. We support the various technical amendments in this budget implementation bill that seek to reduce tax evasion.

However, we find it troubling that the Conservatives are not taking the issue of tax havens seriously and are not cracking down on individuals and companies that do not pay their fair share of taxes. Let us not forget that, even as this government claims to want to do more to fight tax evasion, it is making cuts to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Another area that is affected is the public service, which is clearly being attacked in this bill. The changes being made to the Public Service Staff Relations Act do away with binding arbitration as a method of settling disputes. Why would a government make such a change if not to instigate labour disputes among public servants?

My colleague, the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, gave a very good speech about venture capital funds. The Conservatives are going ahead with their $350 million tax hike on venture capital funds, despite the strong opposition of that sector and the fact that a lack of venture capital has a negative impact on the ability to start and grow businesses. The Conservatives are going after one of our country's most important economic drivers, and it does not make any sense.

In conclusion, we are currently dealing with a Conservative government that makes purely ideological decisions and that is hijacking the government process—both Parliament and responsibilities of the state—for its own partisan purposes. The government is sabotaging programs to make it easier to eliminate them. It is sabotaging our parliamentary structures and it is circumventing our election laws.

Because of a lack of time, I mentioned only a few aspects of this bill. I spoke about them in a fairly general way and there were some that I did not have time to talk about. We should have the time to debate every aspect of the bill. That is what happens when a government has contempt for democracy and our parliamentary structures.

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

Mr. Speaker, this is a budget implementation bill, not a bill on the way Parliament operates.

I asked one of the hon. member's colleagues a question earlier. I asked him what he thought about the fact that, when the bill was introduced yesterday evening, some government members admitted that the people affected by this bill were not consulted.

Perhaps the hon. member did not hear that, but whether he heard it or not, does he think that this is a good attitude and a good practice?

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

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday evening a presentation was made on this bill, but in English only. The presentation was made again last night in English and French, after the debate started.

The people making the presentation admitted that they did not consult everyone affected by the measures in this bill.

What does the hon. member think about that?

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's speech was very eloquent. He clearly demonstrated that we already have all the figures to show that these forms of investment are good for our economy and our SMEs. They also generate income for the government and diversify our economy.

It is impossible to understand the reasoning behind this decision, considering all those figures, which are clear and publicly available. Yesterday the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Fondaction CSN met with the government to propose a way to increase investments, both in Quebec and elsewhere. However, the government again refused to reconsider its decision.

What could possibly have made this Conservative government, which has all the figures at its disposal, decide to eliminate this tax credit?

Business of Supply October 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I was just now listening to the Prime Minister's parliamentary secretary saying, at the end of his speech, that the Conservatives could not support this motion because it did not contain any concrete measures.

And yet the motion does include concrete measures: to put an end to partisan work carried out at the expense of taxpayers—such as participating in the caucus meetings of parties in the House of Commons, fundraising, working as political organizers and promoting political parties—and to travel that is not directly related to legislative duties.

Can my colleague clarify matters for the Conservative government's parliamentary secretary's colleagues and explain to them why these constitute concrete measures?

Business of Supply October 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know whether my colleague agrees with me on the following.

We often hear both the Liberals and the Conservatives making the argument that we should talk about the economy and that we are silly to want to talk about anything else. Does this mean that we will no longer talk about aboriginal woman, democratic reform of the Senate or employment insurance? We will no longer talk about anything that is not directly related to the economy. On the contrary, I think that we should talk about all these things that affect certain regions of Canada. Canada is a big country and the situation is not the same everywhere.

Does the member agree that we should talk about all of these issues in order to improve our country and our parliamentary structures, or should we only talk about the issues that interest the Conservatives and the Liberals?

Business of Supply October 22nd, 2013

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I have to point out that the member had his facts wrong.

The NDP was the first to post the expenses of its members online. My colleague failed to mention this. This is the first thing he addressed, but contrary to what he claims, we do this. The NDP started doing it even before the Liberals made an attempt to do so.

In addition, this motion has to do with the Senate. If anyone in the House wishes to move a motion on how the government or anyone else uses the House of Commons, they may also bring forward a motion on that. However, today's motion refers to the Senate. There is no need to confuse the issue, when there is no argument. This is my reading of the situation. The Liberals have no argument with respect to the Senate. They still want to maintain the status quo on this issue.

Let us stop confusing the issue and talk about what is on the table right now, namely the motion on the Senate. Should any members in the House wish to move a motion dealing with the House of Commons, they can do so, and that motion can then be debated and voted on.

I just wanted to comment on the Liberal member's misleading claims.

Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act June 18th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, before getting to the meat of this subject, I would like to mark a sad anniversary today. Earlier in the day, we had the 50th time allocation motion imposed on us, the 50th gag order. In this 41st parliament, Tuesday, June 18 is a sad anniversary.

I recall bills on which I would have liked to have the opportunity to make my contribution and to present a different perspective on the debate, one that came from the constituents in my riding. But I could not do that because, unfortunately, a time allocation motion was imposed and curtailed the debate.

I am sure that as many members on the Conservative side as on the opposition side have found themselves in that situation in various debates.

In terms of the present bill, I would first like to say that it has changed for the better as it moved through the various stages of the legislative process. That is why I am going to vote in favour of this bill. It is not perfect. We wanted to make amendments that were rejected, but we have still been promised that this bill would be reviewed in five years to see whether it is working, as we hope it will.

Public safety and the attention that victims of crime receive are issues that had to be dealt with. We succeeded in addressing issues relating to the real consequences of the proposed changes and were careful to listen to experts and victims.

Public safety has to be considered. I agree that it is essential to keep our communities safe. However, we need to make sure that we abide by the rule of law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We had to be sure that the way we manage the cases of accused persons with mental illnesses is effective in treating mental disorders. I would therefore like to congratulate the legislators who wrote this bill, but mostly those who amended it, on the job they have done.

Numerous witnesses were consulted during and after the committee’s study. We took the time to listen to victims, families and our communities. We were thus able to have the bill amended to reflect some of the testimony given in committee, and I have to say I am reasonably satisfied with the final result.

It is nonetheless important to recall that the rules in the Criminal Code regarding mental disorders apply to a very small proportion of accused persons. It is always worthwhile to listen to debate in the House and to be able to ask questions afterward, I would note in passing.

A person who is deemed unfit to stand trial or found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder must appear before a provincial or territorial review board, which decides on a plan of action. The person is therefore neither convicted nor acquitted. Once again, this is an extremely limited number of individuals. Some of them have not committed serious crimes.

Concerns had been voiced about the bill at first. We had to make sure that we did not exacerbate the public’s fears for no reason. We also had to be sure not to hinder the reintegration of individuals found to be not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. We undertook a proper examination of the Criminal Code provisions relating to mental disorders, an issue that is important to many Canadians. Some recent cases that received heavy media coverage have also cast doubt on the effectiveness of the current approach, and the bill fixes some of those flaws in terms of victims’ rights.

Bill C-54 also deals with victims’ participation in the process. The ideas put forward are taking us in the right direction. In the NDP, we wanted to know, before anything else, how we could assist victims in this process. One thing the bill provides is for victims to be informed when an accused is released and for the accused to be prohibited from communicating with their victim, and for the safety of victims to be considered when decisions are made about an accused person.

I have no problem with these proposals. However, I have to say that more will need to be done to assist victims. The Conservatives have often applied the same formulas in the past. They complicate the judicial system, but they do not offer assistance for victims.

This bill, at least, is a first step in the right direction.

What else can we do? Catherine Latimer, of the John Howard Society of Canada, asks that more programs and services be offered to the victims of sexual abuse. In her view, the government should invest more in crime prevention. Prevention is something that is often lacking in the Conservative ideology. I totally agree with her.

Every year in Canada, the total cost of crime is at or near $100 billion. This is a huge bill for our society. With regard to individuals declared not criminally responsible on account of mental disorders, it is important to work with key players, such as the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, in order to prevent crimes.

There are costs associated with any amendment. Once again, it is the provinces that will have to pay the bill. It must be said that under the Conservatives we have grown accustomed to seeing the bill passed on to other levels. They really like to pass legislation and then let others pay for it. They also like applying legislation according to their own ideology, without consulting the provinces. I am starting to wonder whether this is not a centralizing government after all. Perhaps the Conservatives are centralizers.

With regard to provincial prisons in Canada, the provincial and territorial governments are already forced to do what they can with the pointless reforms passed by the Conservatives.

I am not saying that any change to the Criminal Code is pointless. It is even necessary to have certain provisions, or at least consider them. In any case, I will be voting in favour of the bill. Nonetheless, certain changes made by the Conservatives have not improved safety in our communities. The only thing they have managed to do is to bog the system down even more.

Can the Conservatives tell us if they now have a financing scheme that will enable the provinces to implement the changes proposed in Bill C-54? I would really like to have an answer to this question.

It is necessary to make sure that the provinces and territories will never again receive a bill that they do not have the resources to pay. The government could thereby learn from its mistakes and at least accompany its reforms with compensation for the provinces. We can all agree that it is very easy to pass legislation when you do not have to pay to implement it. Basically, it is a simple matter of justice.

Over the past few months, the members of the NDP have spoken with experts on mental illness, victims, as well as the provinces to find it out what approach they think would be the best. We did not indulge in political games. We have concentrated on the most important thing, that is, on the study of the merits of this policy, a policy that, we must remember, must come with adequate funding by the federal government.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the fact that public safety must be protected as a priority, with due regard to the rule of law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is also essential to consider the needs of the victims. The bill does respond to these concerns.

With regard to the elements that raise concerns and the amendments put forward by the NDP, including clarification of the term “brutal”, amendments that in any case were not accepted by the government, there is at least a guarantee that we will be able to study the bill again in five years’ time, when we will be able to see the benefits and the positive impact of the change.

The NDP is not unwilling to change. We have done our homework, and we have managed to improve the bill. I recognize how much work we put into studying this bill and this is why I will be voting in favour of it.

Fighting Foreign Corruption Act June 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I have this lasting feeling that the bill is yet another attempt by the government to use current issues to score political points, without really thinking about what should be done to solve this problem.

It takes both human and financial resources to successfully fight corruption. With all the cuts at the CRA and in other federal programs, both at the international and national levels, how can we fix these problems with the bill if there is no additional human and financial resources?

Fighting Foreign Corruption Act June 4th, 2013

Mr. Speaker, I believe that with this bill the government is trying to capitalize on events in the news without really thinking about what should be done to remedy the situation.

Remedying a situation requires human and financial resources. However, the government is making cuts in all areas that deal with corruption.

How can this government achieve excellent outcomes if it is making cuts everywhere? I am thinking of the Canada Revenue Agency, for example.