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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is colleague.

Liberal MP for Honoré-Mercier (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 57% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Madam Speaker, my colleague asked an excellent question.

The first thing that we need to do when we want to move forward with infrastructure programs is to open a dialogue. It was very difficult for the previous government to sit down with the Government of Quebec, the cities, and the municipalities to discuss priorities, which is something that we have done.

The other thing that is going to help speed up the distribution of infrastructure funding is that we have broadened the eligibility criteria. We have created a larger number of funding categories. We have also eliminated some of the red tape, which means that the tax dollars we are going to invest in infrastructure will be spent more quickly and more responsibly. That will help boost the economy and create jobs and will provide us with modern infrastructure for the new century.

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Madam Speaker, it is interesting to hear my colleague speak about the economic action plan of the Conservatives. They spent $750 million on advertising, money thrown out the window for partisan purposes.

We have been clear. We explained that there was no minister dedicated exclusively to infrastructure. As a result, we needed to set up an office for the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, as well as an office for a new deputy minister dedicated exclusively to infrastructure and a full team. This was necessary because we are implementing the largest and most ambitious infrastructure plan in Canadian history.

These are the resources we need and we will use to move forward with this plan.

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I would first like to mention that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Saint-Maurice—Champlain.

I am very pleased to rise today in the House to speak about the important work done by Infrastructure Canada to support the government's priorities and help it keep its commitments to Canadians.

Everyone here today is well aware of the importance of building strong infrastructure in order to create sustainable communities that are great places to live. In many ways, infrastructure is what links Canadians to their communities.

To support Canadian communities, the Government of Canada is committed to delivering a historic plan that will invest more than $120 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years. Phase one will invest more than $10 billion over the next two years toward the infrastructure projects that Canadians need most: public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure.

In phase 1, we will accelerate delivery of funding for Infrastructure Canada's existing programs and extend project categories to meet the needs of communities because that is what we want to do: meet communities' needs.

New infrastructure projects will continue to be eligible under current infrastructure programs, such as the 2014 new building Canada fund and the gas tax fund.

It is also important to note that we have been working to strengthen our relationship with the provinces, territories, and municipalities and fund their priorities and our shared priorities.

For example, in the past month in Quebec alone, Infrastructure Canada has announced over $55 million from a fund that was set up in 2007. That fund has been around since 2007 and lay idle for years. Thanks to our efforts and the minister's efforts to deliver that funding so it can benefit communities, we have funded projects that the Government of Quebec identified as urgent and top priority. Among these is the Place des Canotiers, the Le Diamant performing arts centre in Quebec City, the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, and Saint Joseph's oratory. Other projects are coming on stream just as quickly.

How was this possible? It was thanks to a desire to establish a solid partnership with the provinces in order to advance our common interests to build strong, inclusive, sustainable communities.

In Quebec and elsewhere, the investments target large communities as much as small ones. We have invested in the major projects I just mentioned, but also in small communities such as Trois-Pistoles and Saint-Fortunat, which I had the opportunity to mention earlier. The money invested in Saint-Fortunat, Trois-Pistoles, and other small communities will be used to improve the water supply networks and wastewater treatment.

My counterparts in Quebec told me that our many efforts and our collaborative approach are making our relationships stronger. These relationships and partnerships in turn are making our communities stronger.

Allow me to cite a few examples of support we have received from officials in Quebec. Marc Demers, the mayor of Laval, said:

We appreciate the significant investments in affordable housing that have been announced. These announcements mean a lot to us considering how much money is earmarked for the Val-Martin housing project. The fact that the Government of Canada considers cities to be major partners and reserves funding specifically for them should help them meet their priorities better.

Sandra Desmeules, a member of the executive committee and a municipal councillor in Concorde-Bois-de-Boulogne, had this to say: “As a member of the board of directors of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, I can only applaud the Government of Canada's decision to make major investments in the sustainable development of cities.”

There is also Denis Coderre, a former colleague, who is a well-known and highly regarded mayor.

He said, “I had a feeling like it was like a new deal. This is exactly what we were looking for ...”. This comes from somebody neutral, Denis Coderre, the mayor of Montreal.

Then there is Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, the mayor of Gatineau, who spoke on behalf of the Union des municipalités du Québec. He said, “When 50% of the cost of projects is covered, that is a big deal for me.”

I would like to read a short quote from the official press release issued by the Union des municipalités du Québec after the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference:

The partnership between the federal government and municipal leaders was front and centre during the conference, as [the] Prime Minister [of Canada], representatives from federal parties, and several Cabinet Ministers outlined their commitments to working with municipal leaders to build a strong country. Municipal leaders confirmed their ability to move quickly with the first phase of the federal government's infrastructure plans, which includes $11.9 billion in short-term investments in key priorities for Canadians such as public transit, housing and clean water.

I have a stack of quotes that I could read to my colleagues, but will stop here and continue my speech.

As solid progress continues to be made on phase 1, I would like to take the time to speak about a commitment for the phase 2 of our long-term plan. I have been working closely with members of Parliament from all parties to ensure that voices from the community are heard in the development of this long-term plan.

We have consulted different stakeholders such as citizens, municipal councillors, mayors, leaders of indigenous communities, and our provincial counterparts, which has allowed us to hear different perspectives on the issues and the pressing day-to-day needs of communities.

From coast to coast to coast, we are learning about the areas of investment that matter the most to our communities and our constituents. We are getting feedback on the type of programs that should be developed in order to help build strong, sustainable and inclusive communities. This is not only about identifying projects, it is about identifying the fundamental and real needs of Canadians and our communities.

This information will help us develop phase two of our infrastructure plan. I recently met with colleagues on both sides of the House to discuss our plan. I thank them for their co-operation and availability, and I would like to tell them that their feedback is important. We will continue to hold extensive public consultations over the summer to ensure that all communities in Canada, whether they are big or small, urban or rural, and all Canadians can have their say.

Communities know, more than anybody else, their pressures and opportunities. We are listening to them and identifying the types of investments that make a difference. It is time to invest in people and in our communities.

Sustainable public infrastructure is key to ensuring that communities prosper, and the Government of Canada's ambitious plan requires ongoing targeted efforts. This is exactly what we are doing.

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, in his poorly documented speech, said that we include everything in infrastructure. This may disappoint him, but we will not include gazebos, fake lakes with fake docks on them, and sidewalks leading nowhere.

I would like to ask my colleague a question. Since the Conservatives had so many years to distribute funding for infrastructure programs, why is it that there is still so much unspent money and why is it up to us to implement the program and ensure that the money is distributed responsibly?

We lost at least two years of construction under the Conservative regime. We will never do that again.

Why did the Conservatives waste so much time when they should have been helping Canadians?

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows full well that before we can get to a call for tenders or construction sites, projects need to be approved and announcements need to be made. That is what we have done.

These announcements translate into construction sites, job creation, and economic development, which my dear Conservative friends did not do in all those years because most of their famous $60 billion was never spent.

That is what we are doing right now by accelerating the projects and expanding the criteria to make different types of projects eligible. We are speeding up the process so that the money is available as soon as possible.

If they had the chance to do that in the past, then why did they pass it up?

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the member just said that he has not heard any announcements lately.

My colleague and friend seems to have a very short memory because I was with him in his own riding at Saint-Fortunat to make an announcement about waste water treatment. He was there. We even had a conversation.

Where was he a few days ago when we announced a major investment in Saint Joseph's oratory? Where was my colleague a few days ago when we announced a major investment in Le Diamant, a performing arts centre in Quebec City? This is a very important project for the provincial capital.

What I find deplorable and a bit sad is that the member seems to have a selective memory. He remembers what he wants to remember and forgets the rest.

Main Estimates 2016-17 June 14th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, it is refreshing to hear a definition like the one the Minister of Infrastructure provided. It is refreshing, modern, and open to the world.

I want to congratulate the minister on his excellent speech, but especially on the excellent work that he does. I have the privilege of working with him on a daily basis, and I have seen him in action. The minister toured the country. He went to every province and every region. He met with mayors, councillors, and Canadians across the country.

I would like to know what priorities people talked about when the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities had these meetings across the country.

Infrastructure June 10th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, what a good question from my colleague from Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs.

I am pleased to tell him that investments in Quebec are going very well. In the past month alone, we have announced investments of $55 million in Quebec. This morning, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Families are in Quebec City to announce a $10-million contribution to Théatre Le Diamant, a project by the great artist Robert Lepage.

We are not stopping there. We will continue to work with the Quebec government to strengthen cities and communities.

Rail Transportation June 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, that might take a while.

I said that the government recognizes the importance of ensuring the safety of our rail transportation system and that is why we invested in it significantly; $143 million was allocated to improving rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods.

Obviously we continue to hold consultations and discussions on this, as we did in the case of Lac-Mégantic and elsewhere. Studies are being done. We will make the necessary decisions, while keeping Canadians' safety in mind.

Ministerial Expenses June 3rd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the member's question is also very old.

I will repeat: the minister has been very clear. The minister and the deputy minister needed to be provided with their own offices. Why? We are introducing the biggest infrastructure plan in the history of Canada: $120 billion in green and social infrastructure.

We will be there for young people and seniors, for a greener Canada and for our children's future. That is what it means to invest in infrastructure and our country's future.