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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Laurentides—Labelle (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 44% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my hon. colleague across the floor.

I cannot quote Forbes or banks to which this government has given tax breaks, but I can quote myself. I met with forestry workers, manufacturers and mayors in the northern part of my riding, in the Mont-Laurier area. The five biggest employers were sawmills that are now closed. The local economy has been very hard hit by the forestry crisis. In the bill that has been before us for days now and is again here today, I wonder if there is anything to help the forestry industry to restructure. Is there really any plan for that? The people I met with do not see anything like that in this bill. They are trying to find ways to finance themselves and restructure their economy and they have not heard anything from this government.

Bertrand Lafontaine October 17th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank community workers, who are very important to our society at this time.

We live in a world that seems to be increasingly unjust. Wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few while more and more people are being left behind. Fortunately, there are generous people who put aside their own comfort and interest to help the disadvantaged.

Today, I would like to recognize in particular a resident of Saint-Sauveur, Mr. Bertrand Lafontaine. Since 2006, after a brilliant career in business, Mr. Lafontaine has devoted all his time to the Soupe populaire de la vallée de Saint-Sauveur, an organization that provides meals for the lonely and the needy. After five years, Mr. Lafontaine is retiring for the second time in order to enjoy life a bit. I hope his example will inspire those who follow in his footsteps.

Senate Reform Act September 30th, 2011

Madam Speaker, we are trying to find some logic in this whole thing. We have heard from colleagues with constitutional backgrounds on both sides of the House, and yet we still cannot make any sense of it.

I am wondering if this move is not a way for the Conservative Party to prepare for a time when the tide starts to turn against them. By keeping the Senate and stacking it in their favour, they are ensuring that they will be able to pursue their agenda in the future and that Parliament would not be able to go back and change things. Does my colleague get the same impression?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we are mobilizing our troops to go to Libya, to teach the world about democracy and supposedly to bring in better practices. What will we fight in countries with a dictatorship? We will fight everything that is arbitrary, all the random acts of people who grab power.

Are we not heading down a very slippery slope?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, naturally, human beings do have unfortunate tendencies, such as not trusting other groups. We have even heard important people, here in Ottawa, say that there are too many French Canadians in the public service. We must be very careful because if we go down that slippery slope we are going to create mistrust. Of course, imprisoning children does not punish human traffickers. However, the idea of incarcerating our own children and sending them to adult prison is going a bit far.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives seem to think that everything happens in a perfect world. Bureaucracy is working well and there are regular channels that refugees can go through. However, I have before me a letter from one of my constituents who wrote to me from West Sussex, in the UK. He said he wants to sponsor his two daughters and bring them to Canada, but his efforts have been unsuccessful since 2010. He tried calling the immigration department office in Sydney, but the only response he got was on a broken answering machine and no one returned his call. He also wrote several letters, but received no response.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Madam Speaker, how can we attempt to work on Bill C-4 without first understanding the problem?

The bill is based on false premises. For instance, we cannot compare ourselves to countries like Italy, where the African coast is 350 kilometres from the island of Lampedusa. Some tens of thousands of refugees arrive there every year. The island has become overpopulated, with people there living practically elbow to elbow.

It is a serious problem. The European Union has worked on finding humanitarian solutions to this problem. Here, we are not at all in the same situation. We have the Arctic Ocean on one side and no one will enter the country through there. Our context is not remotely similar and we are not dealing with the arrival of a large number of boats full of refugees. Even if we were dealing with that kind of situation, we would have to respond to it in a humane way. Putting everyone in prison will not change anything. It will only require more prisons.

I would call this bill the “restricting access to refugee status act“. We cannot expect Sri Lankan refugees to arrive in business class on Japan Airlines with their lawyers. For the most part, they are farmers or small business owners who have left a war zone, who were caught in the crossfire of the conflict. They left their country with whatever means they had. They pooled their money together, bought a rusty old boat and set sail to try to seek refuge somewhere. If they were a group of Saudi millionaires, they would have bought a brand new Airbus and arrived at Pearson airport or Trudeau airport with their passports and cash.

Let us be reasonable. The worst thing about this bill is the social tension it creates; it fuels the animosity of one part of the population towards a targeted group. Then, as soon as the public begins to demand action, measures are taken. That is not a vision; it is a refusal to see the facts.

It is important to look at our history. In the past, Canada has made some unfortunate decisions. Remember what happened to Japanese Canadians during the last war; remember the Chinese head tax. We have had to apologize for those decisions. Before we make another unfortunate decision, we need to reflect and not do something that we will need to apologize for later.

We have also done good things in the past. We welcomed those fleeing the Bolshevik revolution in eastern Europe.

We saw how critical people were of these refugees when they arrived. Many people said that there were too many Ukrainians, Germans, and so on. But we have had Ukrainian premiers and there are people from all backgrounds who have become some of the most productive members of our society. If we had pointed fingers, lumped them together and set up barriers in their path, we would not be where we are today. And what a shame that would be.

We now have a chance to make a dignified and generous choice, and I believe we have the means to do just that. It costs less to send a young person to university than to prison. We cannot be swayed by xenophobia and poor instincts. People having a morning chat in a restaurant are allowed to make extreme comments and pass judgment without much thought, but not those of us paid $160,000 a year to be here. We are supposed to think and act intelligently.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I believe that some parts of Canada are very right-leaning.

I advise my friends opposite to monitor the situation. Perhaps one day their party may be called the Wildrose Alliance of Conservatives, or something like that.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, we should not reintroduce globalization into this matter.

What is happening is that the government is taking rather radical action that will have very serious repercussions. It must be doing this for a reason, but obviously it will not tell us why. However, it will make excuses. Excuses are made to justify one's actions, whereas reasons are kept hidden until the end. That is the difference.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

There is unanimity in this place about the seriousness of the interruption in postal services. We are all suffering because of it. We are waiting for important mail from our constituents, personal bills, and so forth. Some people are waiting for cheques that they need to survive. Everyone agrees that we must find a solution. However, we must agree to reflect on and listen to viewpoints that are different from our own. It is in this way that we will move forward and find solutions.