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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was rcmp.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Montarville (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 36% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Salaries Act December 7th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I was under the impression that simply being male made me an expert in males. I respect the profession of gender equality expert, but the mere fact of raising a question as to how gender equality should be assessed underscores the need to make the distinction.

In the end, we are all equal human beings. We work in the same institution, Parliament. Let us start making the distinction between gender and experience, then. Experience can be assessed, but a person who obtains a position for which he or she is qualified should be treated equally.

Salaries Act December 7th, 2017

Madam Speaker, when we re-elected the Quebec caucus, the first step we took was to ensure we achieved gender balance.

This simple act, as small and modest as it is, plainly showed that this culture of gender equality and fairness is fundamental and right.

I still wonder today why we have to debate such obvious things at great length. Clearly, the problem is so serious that the debate is still relevant. However, it is sad that we are forced to make arguments to defend what the general public would like to take for granted. In fact, the public would like this to be seen as the norm.

However, this equal representation does not exist everywhere. It is obvious that in 2017, we have a lot of work to do to find that balance. Unfortunately, if the public does not see any concrete initiatives or receive a clear message, that probably means that we are not doing our job.

It is funny repeating something so annoyingly obvious. We are being forced to put forward major arguments to say that the very least we can do is ensure that men and women are treated equally and fairly, and that every voice carries the same weight and is treated in the same way.

This debate has been going on for a long time. People who do not follow the debates all that closely, and sometimes I can see why, do not realize just how beneficial it would have been to settle this debate from the outset, when the bill was introduced. We are still debating it a year later. Still, regardless of what side of the House you are on, this is the type of issue where there should be no partisanship, because it is a question of gender equity.

When we are talking about pay equity and when both men and women have the same jobs and the same responsibilities, regardless of which government is in power, the Prime Minister’s Office is a unit where all members’ voices carry the same weight.

The Prime Minister’s Office is an organization where, regardless of origin, culture, gender, or experience, a voice is a voice. Of course, experience in one area or another has a certain value. Experience is probably the only element with added value when it comes to the content and thorough study of the topics under discussion.

Bills like the one before us now are extremely simple. Clearly, the general public supports this bill.

Many of us had careers in the private sector at one time, and this question comes up constantly. Every day, we see inequality and find that women are treated differently. This situation is always mentioned, because there is no justification for it. That is why, from day one, despite the system in place, we have treated all ministers the same way. Our intent was that everyone receive the same treatment and that everyone’s voice in the Prime Minister’s office carry the same weight. There was no reason for it to be otherwise.

This debate is in itself unjustified. There is no reason why we should have been debating this subject for so long. I am looking at the number of hours we have spent on this, the number of debates we have held, and the number of witnesses who have spoken in committee on a subject everyone in the House knows about. Everyone is already aware of these types of situations and of the inequity, and the problem goes well beyond government. In fact, it is relatively widespread. I think that, if there is somewhere where we should start cleaning up and putting the house in order, it is here in this institution.

Our responsibility to correct wage inequality is a non-issue. It should be a done deal by now, since everyone agrees on this. The bill gives everyone an equal voice, despite what hon. members across the aisle would have us believe. It is easy to say that you know what will happen, to fearmonger about this or that, to say that certain ministers will lose certain powers. Let us talk about ministerial powers. Wherever they sit, every member of caucus expresses themselves clearly and without limitation, never holding back from voicing regional issues.

In caucus, whatever group you are from, whatever your stripes, every member has a voice. Every member can talk about their problems, their concerns and issues that should be brought to a minister’s attention. Rationalizing our approach by grouping together certain organizations really comes down to saving money and simplifying processes. Throwing out appointments right and left could result in a cabinet of unreasonable proportions.

I will it leave it to those involved to determine whether cabinet should have 30, 32, 35, 38 or 40 ministers. I will even be a good sport and refrain from arguing for or against having a large cabinet. As we heard at the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, the official opposition, which is questioning certain basic expenditures, is wondering whether it is appropriate for the committee to spend a reasonable amount of money to travel across Canada to find out what Canadians need. All of a sudden, saving tax dollars became so crucial that we had to restrict the bulk of the committee's travels. How odd, given the attempt to normalize the fact that there were 40 or so ministers at one time.

The number is justifiable in the eyes of the person in charge. I think that we have responded and that we have followed up on the comments of those who are able to voice direct opinions on specific files. More than anything, we acted on a general consensus among the public that it should be a given that everyone at the big table should have an equal voice and an equal amount of power. Every minister should then get the same salary as their colleagues in the same organization whose responsibilities are similar.

Under the circumstances, I think we ought to stop fearmongering and making predictions. We may not be the skilled clairvoyants some hon. members are, but we rely on hard facts and sound evidence. We have been saying this from the start, but we believe, just like Canadians in general believe, that we should be past debating this type of issue. It should be obvious that treating everyone equally, in the same manner, and giving them equal powers and an equal voice is simply a reflection of the will of the people.

Canada 150 Awards Gala December 4th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, Canada's 150th anniversary is an opportunity for us to celebrate the achievements of great Canadians in our ridings. Yesterday, I was honoured to host the Canada 150 awards gala for the riding of Montarville.

I invite my colleagues to join me in congratulating Léa Rose Brouillard, Marie Fragasso, Laury-Ann Beaulieu Lemay, Benjamin Bernatchez, Jeremy Tremblay, Samuel Di Pasquale, Toussaint Riendeau, the St-Bruno Players theatre company, Chantal de Serres, le Centre de bénévolat de St-Basile-le-Grand, L'Envolée, Les p'tits bonheurs de St-Bruno, Minta, Réal Dubois, Jean-Pierre Reinesch, Richard Pelletier, Jean-Luc Dalpé, Richard Greaves, Marc Savard, and Marcel Babeu.

Congratulations to you all. I sincerely appreciate the work you do every day in our community.

Cannabis Act November 24th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I think that the time allocation motion is being misconstrued.

Everyone was well aware of our intentions even before we took office. As soon as we were elected, we put all of our cards on the table and everyone knew that we were going to legalize marijuana.

We held consultations, and since we are talking about my province, I will mention that I even had the pleasure of discussing the timeframe with the provincial minister, who confirmed that the Quebec health department was in touch with Health Canada on a weekly basis.

I know that other provinces are already ready and that licences have already been issued. When we took office, people made the necessary preparations, as we have; we will be ready.

Cannabis Act November 24th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising this important question. Unfortunately, his reasoning is faulty. The fact that legal distribution centres will be open does not necessarily mean that people will consume more marijuana. They already consume more than anywhere else in the world.

The bill clearly makes it illegal to sell cannabis to young people, to use young people to purchase cannabis, and to sell cannabis through young people. What was illegal will remain illegal. It is false to state that young people have greater access to a product once it becomes legal. They cannot purchase alcohol or cigarettes, even though there is no shortage of distribution points. Reality shows that we are on the right track.

Cannabis Act November 24th, 2017

Madam Speaker, the expressions “hit a wall“ and “hit bottom” best describe the current situation with cannabis and its status as an illegal substance. Nothing, including the status quo, will improve the situation.

Firstly, we are not condoning the use of this product. Personally, I am against using cannabis. However, I have the privilege of leading consultations in Quebec on legalizing a product that does not concern me in the least, since I do not use it, but that causes problems for me. This may be an extremely difficult decision, but it is necessary. We have to show the public that we take this issue seriously and ensure through our colleagues' efforts that the way in which marijuana is legalized is reassuring to the public, better contains the problem, and better manages the future with regard to cannabis use.

The consultations generally focused on these same problems, and people's concerns were heard loud and clear. In addition to listening to them, we asked people to continue to bring forward their concerns on the issue, because together we can monitor and follow the trend for consumption of the product in order to achieve the intended result. What was illegal for those under 18 before legalization will continue to be illegal afterwards. What was harmful to health will not suddenly become a healthy habit after the product is legalized. Fortunately, the file is in the hands of the Minister of Health, who will ensure that this product is controlled to avoid problems we currently experience when people use products purchased on the black market. They have no idea of what they are consuming.

In view of the current problems with public health and organized crime stemming from the sale of cannabis, a government's failure to act would be tantamount to an offence, a reflection of its lack of responsibility. Maintaining the status quo will only ensure the worst results, the worst consequences, and a loss of control, which we must mitigate as much as possible.

Let us be realistic. In my previous life, I had the opportunity to work on cases involving organized crime. We are not deluding ourselves. We know that organized crime also deals in legal substances, substances that can legally be sold, and that it will not completely disappear when this bill is passed. Getting around the law is what organized crime does, and it is the job of our police forces, intelligence agencies, and government bodies to ensure that the activities of these criminal organizations are thwarted as much as possible.

Fortunately, the legalization of such a substance will ensure that law enforcement can focus its efforts on what matters most, for example, the unacceptable presence of organized crime in schoolyards. All a person has to do is ask a child under the age of 18 for some cannabis to understand that this is real problem. During the consultations, young people told us that it would only take them about 15 minutes to get some. That is scary. This drug is so accessible that we need to focus our efforts where they will count the most.

Naturally, legalizing cannabis does not just mean making the product accessible and legal. Although it is true that this will improve the situation, relieving some of the pressure on the justice system remains a secondary objective. It is very clear that the primary objective has to do with health. People are putting their lives at risk by taking a product whose ingredients they know nothing about. This is a situation that needs to be fixed.

The approach to organized crime is also clear. Organized crime is making significant profits that fuel money laundering and are also used to fund other types of criminal activity.

We need tools to curb this type of activity as much as possible and clean up the culture associated with this product. It is true that we have heard that taking illegal drugs is cool and gives the user a certain status and cachet among peers. We must discourage this kind of misinformed thought process. Changing the culture will require clear and unequivocal government involvement in education, training, and prevention.

It is too bad that some members of the party opposite say that we are doing nothing about prevention until after marijuana is legalized. The consultations that I attended and had the pleasure of leading tell a different story. Community intervention groups have already been clearly identified and are doing tremendous work.

Unfortunately, Canada has the highest percentage of cannabis users in the world, simply because the product is illegal. Furthermore, it is estimated that 30% of Canadians aged 18 to 25 use cannabis. In some regions, including the northern suburbs of Montreal, Quebec's health department puts that figure at over 40%. We are the champions of using an illegal product. There are many competitions that I want to win, but this is not one of them.

The supposed deterrent messages about prison sentences have failed, and maintaining the status quo would be inconceivable. The government is therefore seeking both to legalize the product and to allocate the necessary funds and resources for training and prevention.

Prevention is already happening, and we will step up our efforts because that is what we, as a reasonable government making an admittedly extremely difficult decision, committed to doing. This is a monumental challenge related to an extremely sensitive issue, but this decision had to be made. There will never be a perfect time when we can say that all of the elements are in place and we can go ahead with legalization. In fact, we are way behind.

The government's decision will have serious consequences, but it will truly be good for our communities. The government will oversee the process and will be able to anticipate outcomes. Unlike the members opposite, I will make no predictions based on speculation or clairvoyance, but I will say that based on our objectives, we can expect results similar to the experiences and best practices of other countries that have gone down this path and succeeded in reducing marijuana consumption.

Hamelin Brothers November 24th, 2017

Madam Speaker, Charles Hamelin won the gold medal in the men's 1500-metre at the short track speed skating World Cup event in Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday.

In Montarville, speed skating is in our blood. In fact, the town of Sainte Julie has named a third skating rink in honour of the short track royal family, Charles, François, and Yves. Through their example, discipline, and determination, the Hamelin family is a role model to an entire generation of Quebeckers, especially the young athletes and trainers at the Les Fines Lames speed skating club.

Next February, the Hamelin brothers will head to PyeongChang for the 23rd Winter Olympic Games. I hope they will bring some medals home to Sainte Julie.

Go Team Canada.

Cannabis Act November 24th, 2017

Madam Speaker, my position is very simple. I believe that, if members vote against something, then they are voting in favour of the opposite thing.

Cannabis Act November 24th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague for taking the initiative, speaking on behalf of his Quebec colleagues, and sharing their position with the House.

I would like to ask him to elaborate on that position and explain why they decided to vote against taking control of this substance and thus vote in favour of organized crime, money laundering, and jeopardizing people's lives .

National Security Act, 2017 November 20th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I will do more than share my own thoughts. I will convey the thoughts of the Canadians we talked to in our consultations. They were clear on their concerns about their safety and security. No one is oblivious to the events of the past few years. The Canadians we consulted were clear on the extraordinary value of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canadians themselves are divided on where the balance lies between maximizing our safety and preserving our rights and freedoms. This was a key concern to the Canadians we consulted, and it is taken into account in the proposed Bill C-59.