House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Pontiac (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 23% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Government Spending February 13th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, that is unbelievable. Obviously, this is a “do as I say, not as I do” government. On the one hand, the Conservatives say that they want to cut travel spending, but on the other hand, no expense is spared for Conservative ministers and the Privy Council. Yet again, a double standard.

Will this government explain to families why it is asking them to tighten their belts while its ministers have carte blanche to waste public funds?

Government Spending February 13th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, while the government was here telling us that it wanted to cut spending, the Privy Council was paying for very expensive flights for top bureaucrats. When ministers use planes and helicopters as their own personal taxis, it is easy to see where money is being wasted.

The Conservatives are asking families to tighten their belts and forcing workers to delay retirement while they themselves live in the lap of luxury. This very government is about to cut billions of dollars in public services to Canadians, yet it wastes money left and right. How can we trust this government?

Canadian Forces Superannuation Act February 10th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here in the House today to take part in the debate on Bill C-215.

I wish to congratulate my hon. colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore on his excellent work on this bill. I commend him for always caring so much about the interests of our heroes, our soldiers and our RCMP officers. I share his opinion that we need to do more for our veterans. They have given so much to our country, and we need to recognize this, not only with kind words and nice ceremonies, but also with concrete gestures that will improve their lives and make a difference.

That is why I wholeheartedly support this bill. It represents a real, important gesture to help veterans and their families. I am sure most Canadians will be shocked to learn, as I was when I was elected to this House, that many veterans of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP are living in poverty. I was also shocked to learn that many of them suffer from chronic illnesses and mental health problems and have no access to the medical services they need.

Now I know, because I have had the privilege of meeting a number of these heroes in my office or at the legions in my riding. They are usually stoic and not in the habit of complaining. Consider what it must have taken for a courageous veteran to end up in a constituency office to complain about his financial situation. The situation for veterans 65 and over is getting worse. Our government should be ashamed of the economic situation of so many veterans. We have to do more; it is the honourable thing to do.

It is unacceptable that the pensions of Canadian Forces and RCMP retirees are considerably reduced when the retirees begin to draw benefits from the Canada pension plan at age 65 or when they draw Canada pension plan disability benefits. They already have so little, and taking away some of their pension makes absolutely no sense. Even more unfair is that when this decision was made, the members of these forces had no say in how they wanted to make their mandatory contributions. It is unbelievable.

Yes. The unilateral decision was made, once again without consultation, to integrate the CFSA and CPP contributions, rather than stack the plan or increase their CFSA contributions. At the time, members did not realize that their retirement pensions would be reduced when they began collecting their CPP benefits, just when they needed them. It is possible to remedy this situation today. Eliminating the clawback provision with respect to members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP, as proposed by this bill, would be a way to straighten things out and to recognize the special and important contribution that these individuals make to our country. Members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP have roles and a lifestyle distinct from the general community. During their working years, they face dangerous conditions.

My belief in this bill is so strong that, even if it were going to cost money, I would support it. The reality is that it will cost nothing. The lack of cost is yet another good reason to support this bill. All that is left for me to do is to invite and encourage the members of all parties to do something concrete for all our heroes and support this bill with the same enthusiasm as the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.

Human Rights February 10th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it seems that the Prime Minister has far more to say about foreign radicals than he has anything to say about human rights in China. In fact, I commend his speech writers. It must have been a challenge to make sure that he avoided saying anything meaningful at all on the subject last night.

Canadians expect better. Why has the government walked away from human rights in China?

International Trade February 10th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, once again, we see that the government is unable to protect the trade interests of Canadians. This week, the Prime Minister was in China to sign trade agreements and thus establish the legal framework for trade with that country. However, we do not know whether Chinese companies, if they see fit to do so, will be able to sue the Canadian government. This happened with AbitibiBowater. If it happens with the Chinese, Canadians will be stuck with the bill again.

Will the government put its cards on the table and confirm whether or not, under these agreements, Chinese companies will be able to sue the Government of Canada?

Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act February 7th, 2012

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my esteemed colleague for her very interesting speech. She discussed something important. The NDP has suggested what I consider to be completely reasonable changes to the registry. What does my colleague think of those changes?

Purple Day Act February 3rd, 2012

Madam Speaker, first, I would like to commend the hon. member for Halifax West for introducing this very important bill and, particularly the founder of Purple Day, Cassidy Megan, and her family for their excellent work. This is a great example of involvement and commitment that can bring about change.

I am pleased to participate in a debate on an issue as important as a condition that has such a major impact on Canadians and their families. Unfortunately, I must apologize to those who suffer from epilepsy because our government and we politicians have not done enough.

Let us look at the situation. Today, in 2012, 30% of patients do not respond to the treatments that are currently available. This figure shows how necessary it is to produce new anti-epileptic drugs, improve access to global epilepsy assessment and treatment programs and increase funding for research in this area.

One in four people has seizures that cannot be controlled with anti-epileptic drugs. Surgery is an option for nearly half of these people. Dr. Valiente noted that, in Ontario, 10,000 people with epilepsy could benefit from brain surgery but only 2% have the operation.

According to a briefing note about anti-epileptic drug shortages by the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance, drug manufacturers are not in any rush to address the current shortages, which largely affect lower-cost generic drugs with small profit margins. That is shameful. The shortage of drugs used to treat epilepsy can have serious consequences that can reduce the quality of life of those with the condition and even put their lives at risk.

I sympathize with the people who have this illness because this situation is unacceptable and even deplorable. We must take action and that is why I support this bill. Even though this bill does not necessarily focus on access to medication, I support it because it will make Canadians more aware of epilepsy. However, my party is still calling upon the government to deliver concrete results for Canadians in matters of health. Canadians deserve more than empty words. The government can and must do more to help Canadians with epilepsy and their loved ones. The NDP is advocating and asking for this.

Indeed, members opposite and all members of this Parliament are speaking eloquently about the challenges people with epilepsy face, but previous governments had no plan to help these people. I wonder if all members are going to pressure this government to implement measures such as help for caregivers and employment assistance measures for people in difficult situations. We know that a number of people with epilepsy are also under-employed.

Is this government going to take the drug shortage seriously? This shortage has devastating effects on people with epilepsy. Previous Liberal governments were no better. The Liberals were in power for 13 years and had a majority government for 11 of those years. They did not increase public awareness about epilepsy and did not help those with epilepsy fight discrimination, which is still far too common. Purple Day was created in 2008, when the Liberals no longer formed the government.

We know that this condition affects many Canadians and has serious repercussions on their lives and their families' lives. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases in the world and affects almost 300,000 people in Canada and 50 million people worldwide. Epilepsy can also have profound physical, psychological and social repercussions and its impact on quality of life is sometimes worse than other chronic diseases. It is believed that certain factors can contribute to this situation, including the unpredictability of the episodes and the social stigma associated with epilepsy.

People with epilepsy are more likely to have low self-esteem, to be depressed and even to commit suicide. This illness can also have repercussions on a person's education, job opportunities, independence, and the ability to drive or get a driver's licence. These very difficult conditions have to be taken into account by this government and future governments.

More than 30% of patients do not respond to current treatments and suffer unpredictable seizures. This highlights the need to manufacture new anti-epileptic drugs, improve access to comprehensive programs to fight this condition and increase funding for research. We cannot eradicate this illness without research. That is what we on this side of the House and the experts who agree with us are asking for.

Together with the experts, I fully support Purple Day to raise public awareness of epilepsy. The Canadian Epilepsy Alliance and its 25 member organizations are strong supporters of Bill C-278. Dr. Lionel Carmant, director of the epilepsy clinic and the epilepsy research group at Sainte-Justine Hospital and a professor in the pediatrics department at Université de Montreal, fully supports Purple Day. He does not see any other errors in the bill. He also believes that there other opportunities: obtain media coverage for the bill and tackle discrimination against people with epilepsy in the workplace and in other areas of society.

I completely agree with that. The Epilepsy Support Centre in London, Ontario, said that it is critical to build public awareness of epilepsy because people with the illness can face social stigmatization. Information is still the best way to raise public awareness.

Épilepsie Montréal Métropolitain also supports the bill wholeheartedly.

Lastly, I would like to remind Canadians of the NDP's position. We support this bill because it would raise awareness among Canadians. We are asking the government to take responsibility for delivering real results for people with epilepsy. The government can and should do more to ensure that medications are available. Let us end the stigmatization of Canadians suffering from this illness.

Financial System Review Act February 3rd, 2012

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my esteemed colleague on his very interesting speech. Like him, I condemn the fact that we have forgotten who was really responsible for this situation, that they have not been punished severely enough, and that workers and taxpayers ended up paying the price. What does my esteemed colleague think we can do to minimize that burden?

Aboriginal Affairs February 3rd, 2012

Madam Speaker, the situation in aboriginal communities under third party management by this government is not improving. Take for example the Barriere Lake reserve, which has been under third party management for far too long. The record is shameful: no new housing since the 1980s, no secondary school on the reserve and no investment in the primary school.

When will the government end third party management, which is not working, and when will this government allow the Algonquins of Barriere Lake to take care of themselves?

Parliament of Canada Act February 1st, 2012

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. members for their enlightened speeches. I want to again congratulate the hon. member for Sackville—Eastern Shore for the work he has done for so many years on this bill.

During the last election, Canadians voted to put an end to the old ways of doing politics in Canada and to change things in Ottawa.

For the past few weeks we have been hearing about politicians who change parties, provincially and federally, as though you can change political values the way you change your shirt.

This bill is reasonable and simply provides that a member’s seat will be vacated and a byelection called for that seat only if the member changes parties or if an independent MP becomes a member of a party, as the case may be. It is a matter of respecting the voice of the people. A member’s seat will not be considered vacated if the member elected as a member of a political party chooses to sit as an independent. This is a simple and reasonable proposal to protect our democracy.

In the recent case of the hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain, who was elected under the NDP banner and then, seven months later, turned around and joined the Liberals, the Liberals should also be ashamed for once again playing old political games. If my bill were to pass, and I truly hope it does, the voters of Mauricie would not feel today that they had been taken for a ride. They would not be so angry with politicians in general. The hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain would have had to run as a Liberal and ask the people to re-elect her.

We know that people are increasingly disenchanted with politics. The three themes that people keep bringing up are members' honesty, their accountability and the waste of public funds. A growing percentage of the population thinks that politicians are lying to them, lack integrity and are wasting their money.

We can indeed talk about the growing political cynicism in Canada over the past 30 years. Since 1982, the honesty and integrity of MPs were considered to be low or very low and 10 years later, the percentage was barely 49%.

According to an article that appeared in La Presse in May 2010, in Quebec, the province where my riding is located:

The results of this survey...indicate that 87% of respondents choose adjectives such as “discouraged” or “disheartened” to describe how they feel about politics. One in five indifferent. Only 9% said they were “optimistic” and 11% were “passionate”.

Whose fault is that? Ours. We wonder why they are so disenchanted. The main reason is politicians' lack of integrity.

This makes me sad because I decided to get into politics and to become more involved in my community in order to help people fight for their causes. And I know very well that the people in the riding of Pontiac voted for me because they have confidence in my party's ideas. It is unfortunate that, in recent years, according to a number of polls on trust in various professions, politicians are always ranked at the bottom, in Quebec and in Canada. The floor crossings in recent months have only fanned the fire.

The results of a poll on the site, show that, in the last two months, 80% support my Bill C-306 on political affiliation.

Therefore, I invite all Canadians to speak out about this and write to their MPs because the more Canadians who express their dissatisfaction, the better the chance that the government will vote for this bill.

We should remember that our ridings do not belong to us. They belong to the voters. The NDP has been clear: if members wish to cross the floor, they should first ask the voters. My bill to respect the voters' choice would make this mandatory.

Voters who have placed their trust in us deserve nothing less. This seat is not just an object: it represents the people of the riding of Pontiac in the House of Commons. It does not belong to us, the MPs, but to the people of the Pontiac and to our voters.

Let us honour our voters and respect our commitments.