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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 December 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, CSIS has backtracked on its promise to reveal to a Senate committee whether journalists were under surveillance. The government will only say that no journalists are currently under surveillance.

Why, then, is CSIS so reluctant to share any information about this? This implies that surveillance of journalists is still ongoing, while the government is doing nothing meaningful to protect freedom of the press.

Will the minister finally take this matter seriously and launch a public inquiry?

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

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

This is a point that was raised by my colleague from Essex. Incidentally, I will take this opportunity to congratulate her for all the excellent work she is doing to express a position as the NDP international trade critic. That position is based on certain principles and on an equitable and intelligent approach to international trade.

She spoke of government policies, that is, the same thing that my colleague was just explaining. The argument we have heard from the government, namely that it is no big deal and optional in nature, is very disappointing.

We have indeed found many problems in this agreement. With only 10 minutes at my disposal, however, I was not able to address the procedural issue.

I note in passing that when the Conservatives announced this agreement, the Liberals supported it without even having read it. But in offering their support, they nonetheless said that it was important for Prime Minister Harper and the Conservatives to take an inclusive approach, to hold consultations and to organize committee meetings. However we saw just the opposite from that government, in spite of its commitment to transparency.

A good example is the fact that the committee cannot even do appropriate study—the problem raised by my colleague. With all the consequences that an agreement has on the lives of citizens, the least one can do is satisfy the expectations that were created for transparency and respect for citizens.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. Correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I know French cheeses are among the most subsidized in the world. We are creating a situation where cheese made in Quebec and Canada will not be able to compete on a level playing field.

As my colleague said so well, we want to encourage people to buy local and reduce greenhouse gases, and food transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gases. There is even talk about food sovereignty and food waste. It is all related. That is the problem with the government's approach. In an agreement like this one, which includes investor-state provisions, has an impact on the price of drugs and betrays our dairy farmers and cheese makers, the government once again makes all kinds of fine promises, but as it has shown since it arrived in power last year, it does not walk the talk. That is what we have a problem with.

It is good to encourage people to buy local, but the government also has to give people the tools to do that. The government is telling people that international products are on an equal footing with our own, local products, even that they present some advantages. That is not good for our local economies or for our local producers. It is yet another broken promise.

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, this may well be my last speech before the House adjourns for the holidays, so I would like to take this opportunity to wish my constituents a very happy holiday and to thank my team members: Francine, Sébastien, Nesrine, and Catherine. They have been very patient with me during the especially long five weeks of House sittings coming to a close this week. While some might say, “Finally”, those of us on this side of the aisle have just begun. We would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday.

I am pleased to rise today. I like saying that I am pleased to rise, and people seem to say that all the time. Still, I am not exactly ecstatic here because there are lot of problems with this Canada-European Union free trade agreement. When we oppose Bill C-30 and the agreement as written, it is very important to emphasize that we did the same during the previous Parliament. What really bothers me is having to make the same arguments that we used with the Conservatives in debates on international trade issues. Our stance on free trade keeps coming up. We are in favour of free trade, but it has to be fair and not at just any cost.

Unfortunately, that is what is missing from the approaches taken by successive Liberal and Conservative governments. It is clearly missing from this agreement, as well as other agreements, such as the trans-Pacific partnership, which is also before the House, in a way, considering the conversations that have taken place with various civil society groups.

There are several aspects that are of concern, and I would like to begin with the most troubling one, the one that has been raised most often in this debate, namely the investor-state provisions. This is fundamental. If you were to go door to door, something every MP has done, and you asked everyone if it seems appropriate that a private company could sue its government for making a decision after it was elected, and the government has to defend itself, or even compensate the company using taxpayers' money, I think virtually everyone would unanimously agree, and no one in Quebec or Canada would think that was acceptable. However, that is exactly what this agreement allows.

The problem with those provisions is that they undermine two pillars that the NDP sees as the most important pillars of free trade and free trade agreements, namely regulations on environmental protection and the protection of workers.

These investor-state clauses would allow a company to sue the Government of Canada if the federal government or a provincial government introduced regulations or legislation that the company felt hurt its bottom line and its ability to make money. This is completely unacceptable. A perfect example of this problem is the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Mexico. Quebec passed laws to ban fracking in certain areas of the St. Lawrence River. In 2011, if I am not mistaken, a company took the federal government to court because Quebec passed environmental legislation. This completely compromised environmental protection and violated one of the pillars that the New Democrats consider essential in order to support a free trade agreement, which is to be able to trade with a partner with environmental legislation similar to ours.

I am choosing my words carefully because the answer we will probably hear from the other side of the House is that this is what makes the European Union an ideal trading partner. Certainly, we share values with the European Union as a political unit, but the problem arises when a private sector company can begin pitting its interests against regulations made by elected governments here in Canada. There we have a serious problem.

The same applies to worker protection. Even the most responsible of companies require a certain degree of government oversight with legislation to ensure some minimum protections for workers.

That is the purpose of the Canada Labour Code and the Quebec Labour Code. They ensure that workers have a minimum of rights. In a society such as ours it would be unacceptable for a company to take legal action against the government on the basis that such rights are detrimental to its business.

The government has told us not to worry because these provisions will not affect workers' rights, environmental protection, or any other area. However, as the member from Outrement so clearly pointed out earlier today, there will be two sides to the debate. The investors will take legal action against the state, who will argue about the importance of environmental protection. The company will only have to justify its position by saying that it does not harm the environment and that they can proceed. That is the problem.

As the member for Outremont said so well, to date, Canada has done nothing to demonstrate that it can win in these circumstances, in these secret tribunals, and protect the people we are here to protect and that this agreement does not protect.

The other problematic aspect is that the government has not come up with a concrete solution for Brexit. The majority of our EU trade is with the United Kingdom, which is now preparing to leave the European Union. The government does not seem to have taken this fact into account. When, unlike the past few days, government members decided to participate in the debate, they were asked that question, but their answer was not convincing.

There is also the issue of higher prescription drug costs, which will affect the daily lives of Canadians. The members opposite are good talkers, but they still do not have a plan to reduce drug costs like the one the NDP proposed during the last election campaign. The government should acknowledge this problem.

In the 2012 dissenting report of the Standing Committee on International Trade, the Liberals specifically requested a sectoral study to explain the costs associated with the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, and especially its impact on the cost of prescription drugs.

I do not understand why the Liberals were calling for such a study when they were in the opposition, and today everyone acts as if it never existed. I will not even speak of the debate on health transfers, where the same reduced transfers proposed by the Conservative government have been maintained.

Since time is passing, I will close by addressing the final point, which is the most important one for the people in my riding. I am of course referring to the way that the dairy producers have been swindled. Despite the real change promised in the last election campaign for Quebec’s dairy producers and craft cheese makers, the Liberal government is doing worse than the Conservative government that preceded it.

In the last Parliament, a motion by my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé was passed unanimously. Every party in the House, including the Liberal Party, voted in favour of this motion, which called for the producers to be compensated. That is the least that can be done after putting supply management on the table, something Stephen Harper’s Conservative government had promised not to do.

The Conservatives had promised to compensate producers in the amount of $4.3 billion. That was a very fine commitment on their part. Today, however, the Liberals have dropped that to a mere $300 million. That is staggering. It is a betrayal of dairy producers, one of the many betrayals they have suffered at the government’s hands.

Take for example the diafiltered milk issue, which is still not resolved. This is the sort of issue that demonstrates that the Liberals are acting just as the Conservatives did, if not worse.

It is for these reasons that we are opposed to Bill C-30 and that we are demanding that the government reflect upon and renegotiate these important matters. It is not too late to make these fundamental changes which will allow us to exercise our duties as parliamentarians, that is, to protect the citizens we are representing here, the citizens whom this sort of agreement will not be protecting, the citizens it will be betraying.

Public Safety December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, when the Federal Court deems something illegal, it seems pretty easy to answer if one is going to continue doing that or not, yes or no.

We know that torture is immoral, but the words of president-elect Trump are quite worrisome. He is suggesting a return to using horrifying methods such as water boarding. At a time when our security agencies are sharing more and more information with our neighbours to the south, the ministerial directive that allows the use of information obtained by torture is still in place.

Will the minister repeal this directive, yes or no?

Grand Richelois Gala December 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, on November 24, I had the pleasure of attending the Grand Richelois gala organized by the Vallée-du-Richelieu chamber of commerce and industry, or the CCIVR.

I want to congratulate all the organizations, businesses, and individuals who won an award. Congratulations go out to Agence MOBUX, Ce que femme veut, Chocolats Campagna, the Manoir Rouville-Campbell, Brasseurs du moulin, Création NC5, SociéThé et Café, Intégration Compétences, and Maison Victor-Gadbois.

I also want to commend Gilles Plante, mayor of McMasterville and reeve of the Vallée-du-Richelieu RCM on his tribute award, as well as the two personalities of the year, Anik Armand, from Desjardins, and Éric Saint-Pierre, founder of MIRA Foundation.

Thanks to all the winners and finalists, we have one of the most dynamic regions in Quebec. I especially want to thank the CCIVR and its entire team for doing such a fine job showcasing our entrepreneurs.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 6th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech. He has very clearly explained our positions on a number of issues.

I would like to return to one point he raised, namely the contrast between the way the Conservatives managed infrastructure and the way the Liberals are doing it. As has been said many times, the privatization plan, this privatization bank, goes even further than what the Conservatives themselves did.

My colleague from Spadina—Fort York has called those who oppose the plan stupid. Yesterday he tried in vain to qualify his words by saying that it is not individuals who are stupid but the opposition. I do believe he failed in his attempt.

I raise this point so that it is clear that a body already exists, called PPP Canada. When the government came to power, it made a good decision in agreeing to the municipalities’ request that they no longer be obliged to do business with PPP Canada when seeking financial support. Not all municipalities need it. Instead of that, the Liberals took this idea even further by creating a situation where different investment companies will now have control and will make taxpayers pay twice instead of once: once through their taxes and again through tolls and user fees.

I would like to hear my colleague’s comments about this contrast in the government’s approach. In the end, we can say that real change has really not happened.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 5th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I would like to ask him a question about an issue concerning his riding. In the last Parliament, we asked questions about the Quebec Bridge and the Conservatives showed no interest. Now all of a sudden, they are interested. I imagine it is because they got some seats back. We know how this wishful thinking works when in government. When you have a riding, you help; when you do not, you ignore it. At least that was how things were during the past four years.

The issue is still unresolved, even though it attracted some attention in the Quebec City area during the last election campaign, as I understand it. With respect to the infrastructure bank, is the member at all concerned that privatization will be one of the proposed solutions along with the negative effects that this would have on the Quebec City area and its residents?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2 December 5th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I think the parliamentary secretary may have failed to grasp the criticism, since he mentioned PPPs only in a general sense, when we are talking specifically about the plan the government presented with regard to the infrastructure bank.

Let us look at a firm like Crédit Suisse, for example, which has built its reputation on privatizing airports. That is the kind of thing that worries us. It is also a foreign investment. All of these issues put taxpayers in a very precarious position.

We understand that some private investment is necessary to get certain projects done. The problem here is that the government's proposal is going to create a situation in which people who work for Chinese firms, for example, will be the ones to be invited to Liberal Party fundraising galas, and those firms will purchase that infrastructure. I want my colleague to understand this nuance and to answer my question.

If I take the Champlain Bridge in my home province, for instance, are the Liberals going to bring in a toll if it is sold to a private firm?

Public Safety December 5th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the problem is the Prime Minister's arrogance toward protesters.

Let us talk about that arrogance. Last week, the Minister of Natural Resources suggested that the government would call in the armed forces and the police to deal with people protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline. What a thing to say.

This statement is clearly a threat against the right to peaceful protest guaranteed by the charter, and specifically against first nations activists. This comes after we have learned that the RCMP has previously spied on indigenous activists.

Will the minister apologize and reassure this House that the government will protect the right to peaceful protest?