House of Commons photo

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

Red Tape Reduction Act September 15th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I do not see how this in any way relates to the bill we are discussing.

Victims Bill of Rights Act June 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, what struck me is just how certain my colleagues on the other side are of always being right. What victims need is to feel that Parliament debated a bill and the opposition’s suggestions were considered. That is when victims will be certain of having the best bill.

What is happening here is that perhaps 24 hours from the end of the session, they have brought forward something half-baked that will most certainly end up like so many other pieces of legislation declared unconstitutional by the courts. How we do our work and how we serve the public are matters of professionalism. Everyone here was elected to do this work, and everyone should have a say. Muzzling us does not serve democracy.

Canadians will not forgive them for their arrogance. They will end up sitting on the other side, forced to follow the small Liberal opposition there will be.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, in times of war, such as the war in Afghanistan, we should be able to tell our allies that we do not want these types of weapons on the battlefield because they will kill our soldiers and they will continue to kill civilians for years afterward.

In any case, we should at least have the courage to speak out against the use of these weapons.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to use the word that starts with “hyp” because apparently that is not parliamentary.

In my opinion, someone is crossing his fingers behind his back when he is talking, unless those who are better informed than we are have a hidden agenda or have discussed the matter with people who are more influential than us. That is really appalling. We should have more of a say in the investments that the government makes in our army, and we should have a say when the government does business with our allies.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I think Canada is a big country with a well-equipped army. We play an important role. Our allies, like the Americans, need our involvement. We should still set our conditions. Although I see my colleague laughing on the other side, I would say we should be able to impose certain conditions to secure our presence, unless we are so insignificant that we have absolutely nothing to say and nothing to decide. That would be rather a shame.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, perhaps some people who are watching do not know what this is about. These are bombs the size of a household water heater that may contain as many as 2,000 small explosive capsules. The bomb is set to explode just before it touches the ground, and its effect is spread over a 100-metre radius. This weapon was invented to kill civilians. In a real combat theatre, it is useless, because soldiers are protected since they are in bunkers or armoured vehicles. This is a genocidal weapon.

When you get to that point, it is because there is a moral problem. We have to ask whether, by accommodating allies who use these weapons, we are not simply becoming accomplices. All of the little provisions in this bill to accommodate the users of these monstrosities mean that we share the blame with murderous countries like Russia and, in certain situations, the United States and China.

All of the countries that refuse to sign want to reserve the right to use them. There is absolutely no justification for using weapons of this kind. Starving children find pretty little coloured canisters and think they contain food. They try to open them and they are disfigured or killed.

The only way to protect our soldiers from being accused of something because these weapons were used is not to engage with allies who use them. We must place conditions on our engagement. I think we are no longer in that position, because we have virtually no diplomatic presence left. We have lost much of our lustre.

The first few times I went to Europe, a lot of Europeans told me what an example our country set and how much Canada had done for peace, in humanitarian terms. Canada is admired for helping to put an end to apartheid.

Every time we make compromises in situations like this, our popularity rating goes down, and we get nowhere. All the legal loopholes are dangerous and pointless, in addition to undermining the spirit of the treaty. If we had some dignity and some leadership, we would be ensuring that Canada’s humanitarian reputation is not tarnished by actions like these.

We have to have some dignity and a right to criticize regimes that violate human rights. These days, for example, the Syrian army is dropping fuel barrels packed with explosives and shrapnel on civilians. That bears a strange resemblance to a cluster bomb, since civilians die when they explode. If we want to be in a position to criticize actions like those, we have to set an example and we have to demonstrate leadership. If we continue in this way, then instead of sewing Canadian flags on their backpacks, the Americans are going to be sewing Norwegian flags.

It is all very well to want to protect our troops from prosecution, but that should not prevent us from asking ourselves moral questions about the legitimacy of using weapons of this kind. If we accommodate those who use them, we become their accomplices and we must then bear that shame.

It would be very simple to remove clause 11. I prefer to deal with the difficulty of finding legal language rather than deal with the moral difficulty of indirectly endorsing the use of this kind of weapon.

It is important that Canadians know that the reason we want to debate this is that we have some very serious questions and we want them to know what the government is dragging them into. As soon as the bill has been passed and this is ratified, critical international voices are going to discover that we have the weakest law of all the signatory countries. We are going to make a reputation for ourselves like the one we had with the arms trade treaty and in all the other situations where we have a weak position and make compromises without assessing the consequences.

I am not a moralizer, but I think that ultimately, we reach a point where we really have to look at our decisions head-on and see whether we are not on the wrong track and violating all our principles and the principles of the Canadians we represent.

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is more important for Canadians to be informed of what is going on in the House than to be informed about how the debate happens. Everyone agrees that cluster munitions are horrible devices. We know that because 113 countries have signed the convention and 84 countries have ratified it.

Canadians would be interested in hearing that some provisions of the bill allow our armed forces to ask our allies in combat to use cluster munitions. There are a lot of little loopholes, so this bill will not permanently ban the use of cluster munitions. On the contrary, it will offer many more opportunities to use them or for our allies to use them in theatres of battle where we are working together.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation June 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I represent a rural riding. Many people in Laurentides—Labelle do not have access to a wide range of media options.

We rely on our public broadcaster for news, entertainment and culture. CBC/Radio-Canada is a major part of our cultural fabric. It is an institution that serves us well. In such a large country, access to national media is key. Our public broadcaster plays a vital role in the exchange of knowledge and information.

Cuts to CBC/Radio-Canada are hitting my riding and the rest of the country hard. The Conservatives have demonstrated that they see no future for CBC/Radio-Canada or for public broadcasting in Canada. That is shameful.

I join with my constituents in saying that I too support CBC/Radio-Canada.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the minister just talked about people who renounce their citizenship and the possibility to do so. He talked about Google. I have been wondering for some time about the case of a Canadian citizen who committed fraud, was sentenced and spent years in a U.S. prison. He gave up his citizenship to get a British title. My question is very short: what is happening with Conrad Black?

What can the minister tell us about his case?

Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the government should perhaps do what any law-abiding Canadian citizen would do. When we must comply with a court ruling, we only have to do what we have been ordered to do. Every time the government is faced with this situation, that is, every time it introduces a bill, it twists itself into a pretzel to push its original idea through and try a second time to get around the court's orders. People are beginning to understand this strategy.

If it is truly urgent, I wonder why the bill is being introduced at the last minute, when we are about to adjourn for the summer. It may be because the government wants the debate to be held in the media only, in an emotional and somewhat irrational manner, so that it becomes impossible to have a debate, as is the case with the gun registry and abortion. There are many subjects that have become impossible to debate in our society.

The government is in large part responsible because it has allowed the debate to deteriorate and aired it in the media, instead of calmly discussing the issue in the House. It is becoming a sort of hysterical delusion that will last all summer. The government will certainly have time to think about it and perhaps will shred the bill during the summer. I hope it will be wise enough to do so.