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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is colleague.

NDP MP for Beloeil—Chambly (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Public Safety October 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Canadians' overall distrust of our security agencies is a direct consequence of the fact that we have no mechanism to provide real-time oversight and accountability.

The government is currently in court with environmental groups it has accused of spying. Even the watchdog tasked with monitoring CSIS operations failed in its duty by dismissing their complaint and throwing a cloak of total secrecy over the whole case.

Bill C-59 does nothing to fix these problems, but pays lip service to them. When will the minister truly take steps to make real-time oversight, fix these problems, limit the excessive powers of CSIS, and truly protect the rights of Canadians to peaceful protests?

Public Safety October 4th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, a report from the correctional investigator has sounded the alarm on the situation of young adults in federal prisons. They are vulnerable to exploitation, bullying, and abuse. What is more, they are overrepresented in terms of placement in segregation and use of force incidents.

The government promised major reforms emphasizing rehabilitation and protecting vulnerable people. Will the government respect the report's recommendations and abolish the use of solitary confinement on those under age 21, in favour of proper rehabilitation?

Petitions September 27th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by residents of Beloeil—Chambly. They are calling on the Minister of Immigration to grant permanent resident status to my constituent Sophie Thewys and her son Louis Pollack. She had been originally granted that status but then it was rescinded when her partner Nicolas tragically died. We hope that her case is resolved soon and that she can get some good news.

This petition shows the community's solidarity with this person. We have been supporting her since the tragic event occurred and we hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

On a lighter and less serious note, I am pleased to say that this is the 1,000th electronic petition.

Gilles Plante September 27th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, it is with mixed emotions that I rise to recognize the political career of Gilles Plante, mayor of McMasterville and reeve of the Vallée-du-Richelieu RCM. Along with the residents of McMasterville, I learned on Monday that Mr. Plante will not be seeking a new term.

Mr. Plante served his community for 28 years, first as a municipal councillor from 1989 to 1993, and then as mayor from 1993 to 2017. That is incredible. He has also been the reeve of the RCM for 14 years. As a mentor he gave the best of himself, demonstrating discretion, humility, and strength of character. His advice and dedication have helped me become a better MP. His legacy is the vibrant city he helped create, a city beloved by young and old alike. However, there comes a time for every politician to put their family first.

I am sure that Bernadette and their entire family will be happy to have him to themselves. On behalf of the residents of McMasterville and everyone in Vallée-du-Richelieu, thank you, Gilles.

Customs Act September 26th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

What is particularly interesting about all of this is the context. This bill was problematic well before the arrival of Mr. Trump. Since his arrival, however, we have every reason to be concerned about the privacy breaches and the policy of profiling that seem to be entrenched in the procedures of border services officers, especially those in the U.S.

To reassure us, we are told that only the information appearing on a single page of the passport, such as date of birth, name, and nationality, will be shared. The problem, however, is around nationality. Given the reports of profiling and discrimination occurring at the U.S. border targeting Canadian citizens with dual citizenship who wanted to cross the border to work or visit family, for example, we have every reason to be concerned. When this type of information is shared knowing that this culture of profiling exists, we are on a slippery slope. Even if the information may be simple, the reality is very different.

I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about these concerns and Mr. Trump's other executive order under which American privacy laws no longer apply to non-U.S. citizens. That is another problem that can arise from this information being shared.

Customs Act September 26th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would like to come back to the issue of information.

The government is acting as though this information is trivial since it is just the information on our passports. However, the problem with this agreement is that it takes us down the rabbit hole. I would like to remind members that this is just the first step in a more integrated border with the Americans.

Take for example President Trump's immigration order that prevented certain people from entering the country. That, quite frankly, was a racist measure. Sharing the information from people's passports can be problematic because that includes information on their nationality. We have seen cases of racial profiling at the border that targeted Canadians who wanted to enter the United States.

The NDP and I are concerned about the fact that the government wants to share even more information with the Americans, even though there have already been problems and things will only get worse since that information can be used for harmful purposes.

Does my colleague really think that the planned safeguards are sufficient?

Does she not think that we should slow things down a bit and ask ourselves just how much information we are prepared to share to supposedly speed things up at the border?

Customs Act September 26th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

It is interesting, because one of the things he emphasized was the idea of combining this with other information to help intercept someone who is known to authorities. That would be just another piece of the puzzle. However, there is a problem with that. When we look at some of the human rights violations created by the Government of Canada, for example, in cases such as that of Maher Arar, the sharing of information was often one of the problems. In fact, sharing information, in certain situations where profiling occurs, can insinuate something about an individual and lead to horrible and tragic situations like the one that Mr. Arar went through.

When we look at the proposed system, to allow more information to be shared, I wonder whether the hon. member realizes how little we can trust the process, especially in light of the current administration. Simply increasing the sharing of information without really putting in place adequate accountability procedures, is a problem.

For example, the Canada Border Services Agency is one of the only agencies responsible for dealing with national security, and before Bill C-22 was passed, it did not have a review mechanism, let alone any oversight, because no real-time monitoring was being conducted. Obviously, we have complete confidence in the men and women working on the Canadian side of the border, but what is happening on the American side is a different story, considering the racial profiling that is going on there.

Is the member not worried about this exchange of information? Before he tells me that the Privacy Commissioner was involved in this work, let us remember that, in the speech the minister gave about this bill, he said that the Privacy Commissioner should conduct further assessments after the bill was passed. That hardly inspires confidence.

Does the member not agree that the most important thing is protecting human rights? The government does not have a great track record in that regard when it comes to information sharing.

Customs Act September 26th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. Since he knows a lot about how Parliament and the legislative process work, I would like to ask him a question. There have been a number of bills on important issues such as national security. Most recently, we examined Bill C-23 on preclearance at the border. Like Bill C-23, Bill C-21 contains provisions that give the minister a lot of discretionary power over regulatory changes that will be made after the bill is passed. Looking back, when Bill C-23 was being examined in committee, public officials were asked for a list of regulatory changes that would be made to implement the provisions of an agreement with the United States. However, they were unable to provide us with a comprehensive or even a definitive list.

Does my colleague agree that the legislative process requires accountability and transparency, and that this is an unacceptable way of doing things? We understand the need for regulations, but when they are used to circumvent the legislative process, that can cause problems.

Customs Act September 26th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would like to come back to the matter of the information that will be shared.

A problem that we are seeing more and more of, and not just with this bill, is that the Liberal government has a tendency to legislate using regulations. For example, in the bill currently before us, the government gives the minister a certain amount of discretion through regulation. That allows the minister to change not only the type of information that is collected but also the manner in which that information is obtained, the parties from whom it is obtained, and the circumstances under which is it obtained. That is a serious problem.

In committee, we asked Public Safety officials about Bill C-23, which is essentially a companion to the bill in question. They said that they were unable to tell us what type of regulations would be changed because of this bill.

Is the member not worried that the government is making legislative changes, while leaving a big asterisk next to some parts saying that it will make more changes later, at the minister's discretion, through regulation? Is that what accountability and transparency are all about?

Customs Act September 26th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister first met with President Trump after the U.S. election, there was a lot of talk in the press release about further integration at the border. One of the things that was even floated was housing American and Canadian border agents in the same building and having common systems.

When the public safety committee went to Washington in May, we had an opportunity to hear some of the long-term plans of this entry-exit program. If the member and members of the Liberal caucus are not concerned, something is seriously wrong. We are in a situation now where accountability is at its lowest when it comes to national security agencies. Unfortunately, that includes CBSA, which as of now, until the creation of this committee of parliamentarians, is one of the only agencies that has no proper review, much less real time oversight. That is a whole other matter.

I want to understand from the member why, in that context, he would feel comfortable with this sharing of information. President Trump is signing executive orders saying that privacy protection laws no longer apply to people who are not American citizens. We see a situation that almost condones, implicitly and explicitly, potentially the use of torture, with a new ministerial directive that does nothing to alleviate that issue. Therefore, I want to understand why the member could feel comfortable with sharing more information and this further integration, given there is a president who has no respect for the rule of law of his own constitution, much less the constitutions of other countries.