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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is chair.

NDP MP for Beloeil—Chambly (Québec)

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

Statements in the House

Criminal Code May 24th, 2018

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

As the member for Victoria indicated in his speech, we oppose the bill simply because it is far too flawed. Yes, it does contain some measures that have been lacking for a long time, but it also fails to include an extremely important measure, the review of mandatory minimum sentences, even though that was included in the minister's mandate letter. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that because the previous government is the one that established those minimum sentences.

It has been proven that mandatory minimum sentences do not reduce the crime rate in our communities. On the contrary, taking away the discretionary power of judges does nothing to keep the public safe. Republican legislators in the United States came to the same conclusion, even though they, like the previous government, were strong supporters of this policy.

Does the member agree that the minister should deal with this important issue, which is part of her mandate, once and for all?

Natural Resources May 24th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, that is a Liberal’s word: an election promise in 2015 and maybe we will get there in 10 years. More than two-thirds of Canadians want these oil and gas subsidies abolished. The Liberals solemnly promised to do just , as we have heard many times in this place. However, there is no plan to do that. They talk about something perhaps 10 years from now. If only they get re-elected a couple of times, maybe they will manage to get there. It is even worse, considering that they now want to compensate this same industry by giving money to Kinder Morgan.

What is their plan to finally end subsidies?

Public Safety May 9th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, New Brunswick is currently grappling with the worst flooding seen in recent years. Water levels are starting to go down, but the situation remains urgent, and normalcy is still far off.

Many roads are still closed, and residents are still waiting to find out when they can go home. We know the damage will be significant, and a lot of cleanup and decontamination will be required.

What is the government going to do to help the province and flood victims get back on their feet quickly?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship May 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, that is a far cry from “all kinds of things”, because we have been talking about this since January 2017.

The government can send officials to the U.S. and to Nigeria. It can talk about all of the things that are happening, but the problem persists. What we are seeing is people who, in one case, are trying to flee death, torture, and poor living conditions, and in another case, fleeing anti-refugee sentiment that exists even in places like the White House.

If the government wants to be welcoming to refugees and it wants it to happen in the proper way at official border crossings, why does it not do the easy thing and suspend the safe third country agreement?

Record Suspension Program May 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, first let me say that we support the motion by the member for Saint John—Rothesay, though we do want to raise a few points. We are disappointed that the Liberal government is dragging its heels on this and would rather do more studies than take action on a file that has already been studied.

I will also address a few of the points raised by my Conservative colleague who just spoke. Today we are talking about record suspension. The first thing I want to point out is that, contrary to what the member just said, record suspension is not permanent. What it does is make it easier for an individual who committed a non-violent crime, such as drug possession or something like that, to reintegrate into society and get a job. Many employers use Canadian police databases to find out if an individual has a criminal record. It can be extremely difficult for anyone with a record to get a job and reintegrate into society.

The statistics speak for themselves. The fact is that since 1970, 96% of rehabilitated offenders successfully reintegrated into society and did not reoffend. When we are looking at achieving the public safety goals the previous Conservative government claimed to want to achieve, there is nothing more important than having a program of record suspensions, or pardons as they used to be called, that works properly. After all, offenders who do not reoffend is the ultimate achievement of our justice and corrections system, and will ensure public safety by not seeing the circle of perpetual crime taking place.

That is one thing. That is without even getting into the fact that, as the member who presented the motion correctly pointed out, all too often the types of crimes we are looking at with regard to this program are being committed by people who are in difficult and desperate situations and who need the kind of support this kind of program could offer. Then, when they have paid their dues, when they have done their time and have gotten out and have been successfully rehabilitated, they can become productive and welcome members of a community once again.

The Liberals acknowledged that some of the Conservatives' changes were in need of fixing. That includes the higher cost, which is a barrier to access. The Conservative member we just heard from said that the financial burden should fall squarely on the person who committed the crime. Because of that approach, just filing an application for a record suspension, also known as a pardon, went up from $50 or $100 to $631. That does not include the cost of getting a pardon, which bears mentioning. A person who is rehabilitated, who wants to reintegrate into society, and who is looking for a job obviously does not have enough income to cover such a huge expense. That person can forget about it. Plus, the $631 fee applies regardless of the outcome of the application, which can easily be rejected.

As all members know, whenever people have dealings with the federal government, whether in the area of public safety or any other, they might tick the wrong box or forget a comma somewhere, and they will be penalized as a result. That is the kind of situation we are talking about here, except that in this case such mistakes are very expensive.

This is something we need to address as a society. By reversing the changes made by the previous government, some of the cost could be absorbed by taxpayers. Once again, this could also help us achieve some important public safety objectives.

These are all things that the Liberals recognized in the last election, which during debates about public safety issues, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness committed to fixing, so much so that the minister has done exactly what the member wants to do, which is to have the public safety committee, which I am vice-chair of, study this very issue. However, the fact is the Minister of Public Safety has already undertaken this very study to see what Canadians think, to see what the different positions are, to understand that there is support in civil society from exactly the groups that were enumerated by the sponsor of the motion earlier in his speech and in response to questions and comments.

During the minister's study of this issue, an important fact came out. Three-quarters of Canadians support easier access to record suspension in the event that the person applying has paid his or her dues, both in the literal and philosophical sense, and has been properly rehabilitated. Canadians recognize that in order to ensure public safety, we need to achieve the rehabilitation goals that our system sets out to achieve. One of the most important ways to do that and to lead to reintegration is to allow easier access to the labour market, which requires this sort of record suspension.

It is important to note, contrary to some of the fearmongering we just heard by a member bringing up the attack on Parliament Hill in 2014 and other forms of violent crimes and terrorism, that this is not what is before us. What we have before us are non-violent crimes, things like drug possession, and shoplifting has been used as an example, that lead, and rightly so in many cases, others less so, to having a criminal record.

We could have a debate another time over the criminalization of drug possession and the decriminalization of that, and the fact that the government, while legalizing marijuana has sent mixed messages about pardoning those who have criminal records, in particular, those who obtained those criminal records during the debate in this very place about the legalization of marijuana for simple possession.

Putting that aside for a moment, we are not talking about people who have committed terrorist acts. We are talking about people who have committed minor offences, who have done their time, who have paid their dues, who have been properly rehabilitated, and who have waited a period of time that is prescribed by this program to then apply, and even through that application, without any guarantee that they will seek the record suspension.

Let us put that fearmongering aside and look at the very real public safety goals that could be achieved by making a record suspension easier to access. Contrary to what the member who just spoke said, yes, a criminal record is a deterrent, but the folks we are talking about here have already been deterred because they have been rehabilitated and gone through a long and arduous process that has led them to be able to apply.

Those are the facts before us. That being said, I recognize that the minister has studied this issue, a Liberal member is proposing this motion, and this is already something that the Liberals have committed to do. Therefore, I would wonder why, instead of having another study, instead of asking a committee that is tasked with some very heavy files, with legislation, with a calendar that is completely booked for the next several months at the very least, the government would not just act and bring forward the necessary legislative change to make sure that we are achieving the very real public safety goals that can be achieved by making it easier to access this program.

Why not simply do something?

Once again, the government wants to study this situation ad nauseam. Meanwhile, there are citizens who deserve to be pardoned, who have done their time, who have paid their fines, who are rehabilitated and can now reintegrate into our society and begin contributing to our communities. It is well known that they will not reoffend, since the statistics from the past 45 years prove it. A very low rate of recidivism is the ultimate goal of our public safety system.

I therefore congratulate the member and I support his motion. I have to wonder, though, what is actually being done and, even if the committee undertakes such a study, how much longer we have to wait for the Liberal government to fulfill a commitment.

Record Suspension Program May 7th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, everything the member just said in terms of values and principles are things we can agree on, but the fact is that the Minister of Public Safety has undertaken a public consultation already on this very issue. He hired EKOS to do a study of it, as a result of which we saw that three-quarters of Canadians support proper reintegration after rehabilitation. That obviously requires some changes to the program, changes that the Conservatives proposed that increased the cost, for example, of accessing record suspensions that were once called pardons. It ensures public safety of the very people he's talking about, because since 1970, 96% of offenders who have been properly rehabilitated and then accessed these pardons have been reintegrated and did not reoffend.

Clearly, there are a multitude of things that can be achieved by having a proper record suspension or pardon system in place. However, it begs the question: If the minister has already undertaken a consultation, instead of proposing a motion to have the committee study it, with the facts before us, we know that the changes by the previous government were wrong and that the Liberals committed to fixing it, so why does the member not just fix it?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns May 4th, 2018

With regard to addressing irregular border crossings by asylum seekers: (a) what is the protocol that RCMP officers are to follow when individuals irregularly cross the border; (b) how are RCMP officers prepared to be qualified to work at the border, particularly at Roxham Road, broken down by (i) type of training, (ii) training provider, (iii) training content, (iv) date of last training given, (v) cost; (c) since 2016, how many individuals have been sent to the entry points of the border between Quebec and the United States, broken down by (i) agency and department, (ii) quarter, (iii) administrative region; and (d) for 2018, how many individuals are being sent or will be sent to the entry points of the border between Quebec and the United States, broken down by (i) agency and department, (ii) quarter, (iii) administrative region?

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship May 3rd, 2018

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, the NDP asked the Prime Minister whether his government was in talks with the Trump administration to create a de facto invisible wall and send asylum seekers back to the United States. He was at such a loss for words that he accused the NDP of fearmongering. Come on.

Has the Prime Minister been paying attention to what we have been saying since January 2017?

Do the Liberals plan on expanding the safe third country agreement, yes or no?

Foreign Affairs May 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the biggest engagement the government had was using a low burden of proof to extradite Mr. Diab to France, a burden of proof that was so insufficient that it did not hold up in a French court.

A 2006 Supreme Court ruling said that courts have to stop rubber-stamping extradition requests and start weighing the evidence presented by foreign countries. Can the minister explain how the Department of Justice is supposed to deal with this issue when it is investigating itself? When will it fix this broken extradition system that people are paying for with their livelihood?

Foreign Affairs May 1st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, according to a media report, the Department of Justice fought hard to have a Canadian, Hassan Diab, extradited, even though the case would not stand up in court because of insufficient or unreliable evidence. This speaks volumes about the government's commitment to human rights, especially given that he is a Canadian citizen.

What has the government been doing since Mr. Diab returned to Canada to ensure that this nightmare never happens again?