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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleague.

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

Committees of the House November 17th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about summer jobs for students. The first thing I did in my official capacity as an MP, practically the day after I was elected in 2011, was to sign the list of summer jobs. Looking at that list, I knew right away that there were not enough resources and that all of the decisions had been made in advance by government employees who had reviewed the applications. I could have made a few minor changes to the list, but all of the choices to be made were tough ones.

This program helps young people go back to their region and gain initial work experience in forestry, the environment and all sorts of specialties. It provides a great deal of assistance to community organizations and small municipalities. As I reviewed the list of organizations and municipalities that had real needs, I was disappointed to see that things looked the same year after year. The young people who did not make the cut could have met those needs and acquired essential work experience. A few times, I was able to achieve a remarkable feat and make tough choices to give jobs to groups that I felt were more essential than others.

Will there ever be an end to this? Will the government decide to invest the necessary resources? That is what I would like to ask my colleague.

Energy Safety and Security November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague two or three questions.

Assuming there is no limit to how much an oil company can get out of the ground, if an oil deposit contains $20 billion worth of oil, the oil company will take that $20 billion worth of oil. Since the resource potential is unlimited, why should the company's liability be limited? What are we supposed to tell people if a company causes damage in excess of $1 billion?

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question.

I do not believe that these agreements are an obligation. It is a bad habit that some governments have developed. If we sign agreements with countries that do not have robust legal systems, where corruption is a problem and where the impartiality of the courts is in question, it is wise to include these kinds of provisions in agreements.

However, when we are doing business with reputable countries with legal systems similar to ours and where corruption is not a problem, there is no need to worry. It is not like in the case of Mexico in the 1980s, when NAFTA was being signed. There was good reason to question Mexico's legal system at the time. In fact, that might still be a concern today. However, when we are doing business with large, modern, democratic countries like South Korea, there is no need to worry about that.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the government is spending most of its time explaining to us that resources are limited and that we have to tighten our belts and do more with less. In these circumstances, I imagine that the resources dedicated to international trade are not really a matter of choice. We need to have priorities. I think that the agreement with South Korea is considerably more important than other agreements signed with countries like Nicaragua, for example. It is simply a question of priorities.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question, one that is nearly impossible to answer.

I think common sense dictates that when we want to achieve a certain outcome or goal, we need to focus on one task. When we spread our resources too thin and try to do too many things at once, we invariably fail or miss out on projects that are more serious or more important.

This probably happens simply because there is no plan and no industrial strategy or international trade strategy.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Although it seems almost as difficult to agree with the government as to disagree with it, I am still pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea.

As I mentioned in my speech at second reading, I am proud to support the implementation of this agreement because it is very important for our agricultural producers and our exporters.

The discussions regarding a free trade agreement between Canada and South Korea began in 2004, and negotiations officially began in 2009. It took nine years to conclude the treaty.

During that time, Korea signed agreements with the United States and Australia. Canada's delay cost our producers and exporters dearly. Canada has been losing significant market share. We need to step up our efforts in order to recover those losses. Canada's delay in signing an agreement with Korea shows just how important it is to have an international trade strategy. Signing agreements right and left without a coherent plan is certainly not in the best interests of Canadians.

What is more, in its haste to pass this agreement as quickly as possible, the Standing Committee on International Trade conducted a rapid study. We had a limited number of study sessions, and we were only able to hear from a limited number of witnesses.

The NDP meticulously studies free trade agreements that are presented to us. We know that once they are ratified, it is difficult, if not impossible, to turn back the clock and fix any errors. We apply three criteria in our assessment. First, is the proposed partner one that respects democracy, human rights, adequate environmental and labour standards, and Canadian values? If there are any issues, is the partner on the path to meeting those objectives? Second, is the proposed partner's economy of strategic value to Canada? Third, are the terms of the proposed deal satisfactory?

The agreement with Korea meets those three basic criteria. Korea is an established democracy that enforces high labour, human rights and environmental protection standards. It is a developed country that is ranked 15th on the human development index, the highest ranking of all East Asian countries. In addition to introducing social programs and the rule of law, South Korea has low levels of corruption and provides high access to quality education. With respect to the environment, Korea has emerged as a world leader in renewable energy and green technology.

Furthermore, the agreement with Korea represents a significant and strategic value to Canada. This agreement is viewed positively by a plurality of Canadians and is supported by virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy. South Korea is Canada's seventh most important trading partner.

Even more importantly, this agreement would be Canada's first trade agreement with an Asian country, so it provides a significant opportunity to capitalize on the Pacific region economies and to diversify our export markets.

The agreement with South Korea also passes the test if we look at the terms of the agreement. A very broad coalition of Canadian economic stakeholders believe that this agreement will have a positive impact. I must note, however, that certain terms of the agreement are not what an NDP government would have negotiated.

The manipulation of Korean currency as a form of protectionism as well as the investor state dispute settlement mechanism are two aspects that keep coming up in the discussions. Despite the NDP's demands, no real study has been conducted to examine how these aspects will affect Canadians.

We proposed amendments to improve the agreement at the Standing Committee on International Trade. In total, the NDP proposed six amendments. These amendments aimed to protect the right of Canadian governments to legislate in the public interest and to prohibit the weakening of environmental standards.

Furthermore, two of these amendments directly addressed the auto and steel industries. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals proposed any amendments to improve this agreement. Obviously, as usual, the Conservatives voted against all of our attempts to improve this agreement. It is sad that members choose to do this.

Nevertheless, we believe that, overall, the benefits of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement outweigh the risks. For these reasons, I am pleased to support Bill C-41, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Korea. However, I believe that our work does not end here.

South Korea is a new market for our exporters. It would be magical thinking to believe that simply signing the agreement will automatically enable our exporters to take advantage of the Korean market. Many of our Canadian exporters, especially SMEs, need a little help to benefit from this opportunity. Co-operation among businesses, the Canadian embassy in South Korea, the Trade Commissioner Service, Export Development Canada and other services is essential to implementing the agreement and improving trade.

In my riding, Laurentides—Labelle, the Oviva group, which produces maple water, contacted me for more information about opportunities available to them to get into that market. They do not know where to go for help from the government. Maple water is a niche product. The quality of their product is exceptional. I will personally make sure that these exporters from my region get all the help they need to access the Korean market.

In closing, I believe that this free trade agreement with Korea will create new opportunities for Canadian producers and exporters. I think it is a real shame that all of the amendments my party put forward to improve this agreement were rejected out of hand. I think that this agreement will be good for Canadians, so I support Bill C-41.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my brilliant colleague for his speech.

I would like to draw on his extensive knowledge and ask him if he could talk a bit about the threat that currency manipulation represents for exporters.

Canada-Korea Economic Growth and Prosperity Act October 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, since everyone has such refreshing ideas, I wonder whether my colleague thinks it would have been refreshing a year or so ago to have received a little more information about the agreement with Korea. We would have been able to support it much sooner if we had received the information we had been asking for for some time.

We now find ourselves in an emergency situation that could end up costing our exporters millions of dollars. The reason we are in this position is that everything happened in secret and no information was available. Everything could have happened a lot faster.

What is my colleague's opinion on that?

Military Contribution Against ISIL October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have become extremely wary of hearing the word “allies” every time it comes up, because some of those allies are the very reason these terrorists have become this important and this powerful.

We know that Turkey has served as a major hub for many fighters from western countries who have gone to fight from the other side of the border. We also know that rich gulf countries have funded the purchase of weapons. That is where we are at today.

If our solution does not take those factors into account, we may as well put our heads in the sand. Nothing will be accomplished.

Would my colleague like to comment on that?

Mont-Tremblant October 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I was delighted to learn that new direct flights between Toronto and La Macaza/Mont-Tremblant will be offered this winter. Air Canada will be offering daily flights from Lester B. Pearson airport. These flights will be available during the ski season.

This is excellent news for Mont-Tremblant's visibility and accessibility. These flights will bring in tourists from the eastern United States and the rest of Canada. Mont-Tremblant will be easier to get to than ever before.

I hope that this announcement will prompt the government to finally give the La Macaza/Mont-Tremblant airport appropriate classification with a modified customs system that will eventually allow the airport to accommodate international flights.