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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was years.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Sudbury (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 41% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Members Not Seeking Re-election to the 44th Parliament June 15th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, before I leave this chamber for what may be the last time as the MP for Sudbury, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on my time here in the House and the dynamic community of Sudbury that I represent.

As everyone here knows, when you go into politics, you do not do it alone. It is above all a family decision. I have been honoured to serve the people of Sudbury with the support of my wife Lyne and my children Mylène, Henri and Théo. I am proud of them and I love them.

Yesterday was my 24th wedding anniversary. I want to thank Lyne for her continuous support and for sharing this unforgettable experience with me, as we journey through life together.

I also want to thank my team, hard-working supporters and all the voters who live in Sudbury for their ongoing confidence in me. The help I have received along the way, along with the friends I have made and the lessons I have learned, will stay with me forever. I thank all of them. The list is quite long, but I would like to thank Mike and Marie-Eve, who have been there with me since day one, and my team, with Funmibi, Lynn, Sophie and Bernard. I want to thank the Prime Minister for his confidence in appointing me Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources. It was a post I held for nearly three years.

As a member of Parliament, I have seen the amazing work that can be accomplished on various committees when partisanship is put aside. Yes, that does happen in the House. When we are all sitting here in the House on Wednesdays before the doors open, we all get together and sing O Canada. It is unfortunate that Canadians do not witness that most members of Parliament are proud Canadians first and members of political parties second.

I have also seen in this chamber the stark divisions of partisanship and the lasting damage caused by the denial of obvious facts, such as climate change and institutional racism faced by Canadians every day.

We have a duty as members to show all Canadians that we have learned from our own 153-year history and that we must all respect our differences. We must show that fear of our different languages, cultures, religions, races or sexual orientations has no place in our society.

This year has been very difficult for all Canadians, and I know the work of this government has made a very positive difference in Canadians' lives. I know my riding of Sudbury has been very well served by the programs we have put in place, and I am both honoured and humbled to have played a role in that.

To me, the role of the House and members is to listen to Canadians, to work and find the best way to help them. Having listened to Canadians and because of the changes that have been made since 2015, I have a lot of hope for Canada. Let me explain why.

First, I am hopeful because of the ingenuity of Canadians. Our governments must continue to foster the opportunities that this amazing Canadian talent offers us. Let me start with my riding of Sudbury. Our lakes were all polluted 40 years ago. The landscape was black rock and the trees were decimated because of pollution from mining. Ingenuity was building the tallest superstack in the world so that the pollution would go farther. We then planted 14 million trees on that black rock. Now, because of research, ingenuity, regulations and community, we have reduced the sulphur dioxide by 98% and all of our lakes have fish. We can drink the water, and the superstack is coming down in the next years.

We are ground zero for the environment and the economy going hand in hand.

Sudbury has become an international research centre.

In early 2016, Sudbury's SNOLAB, a world-class public-private research consortium located two kilometres underground in Vale’s Creighton mine, and its world-class team of researchers, led by Art McDonald, were awarded the Nobel Prize for physics.

In addition, many of Sudbury's mining supply companies are leading the way in electric underground vehicle technology, and new battery and energy storage tech is being pioneered in Sudbury at an industrial scale.

The mining industry is also leading the way in first nations economic partnerships. The Côté Gold Project, for example, in my neighbouring riding of Nickel Belt, which is well served in this House by my friend, the MP for Nickel Belt, includes two neighbouring first nations communities, the Mattagami First Nation and the Flying Post First Nation, as partners. In Sudbury, Wahnapitae and Atikameksheng first nations are also partners in the mining projects.

We must continue to support this ingenuity, and this gives me reasons for hope for scientific advancements, economic opportunities and jobs in Canada.

I have hope because Canadians want more to be done in the fight against climate change.

In September 2018, a young student named Sophia Mathur reached out to my office in Sudbury and asked me to participate in the first-ever Fridays for Future student strike in Sudbury. From then until now, Sophia and a dynamic group of young friends have organized more than 70 events, including sign waving, singing, Bollywood dancing and lots and lots of advocacy. These inspiring young people are leading by example, and there are so many of them in communities across our beautiful country. Sophia's message to me and to all of us in this chamber is simple: We can lead now on these important issues, or we can get out of the way.

With the price on pollution, an electric vehicle battery plan, a hydrogen plan, a Canadian minerals plan, planting two billion trees, clean fuel standards, clean-tech innovation supports, environmental accountability legislation and many more policies, we are on our way to reach our carbon targets of 2030 and 2050.

Thanks to Canadians like Sophia, I have hope for the future.

I am also hopeful because Canadians realize that now, more than ever, learning the truth and reconciliating with indigenous nations is a priority.

Another memory I have is from early 2016. I was invited to Whitefish River First Nation in northern Ontario to visit with the children of that nation. There I met Chief Shining Turtle, who filled me in on his nation's needs. He told me about his nation's water system, in desperate need of an upgrade to meet growing demand. He told me about health care in his nation, the school in his nation and how some families were being left behind. He told me his nation had waited years, sometimes decades, to have those addressed.

Working together, over time we tackled these issues. I returned to his nation in 2018 to announce an investment in the Waubetek centre of excellence for indigenous minerals development, led by Dawn Madahbee Leach. I took the opportunity to visit with the chief and saw how quickly improvements to the water system, which had been mired in red tape for years, had been made.

I saw first-hand how vital and effective Jordan's principle is to first nations communities, through the experience of children able to overcome health issues and attend school in Whitefish Lake First Nation for the first time. To them, I say chi-meegwetch.

With over 100 boil water advisories lifted, many nations recently connected to the grid, unprecedented training opportunities for first nations and unprecedented partnerships with natural resource projects, we are on our way to learning the truth and have started the path toward reconciliation. I am hopeful that, given the immensity of this path, this House, regardless of political stripe, will not waver and will continue to follow the path along with indigenous peoples.

I am very hopeful that we can have a strong, bilingual Canada. Francophone minority communities have asked for investments in their cultural, educational and community infrastructure. I have seen the results of these investments in Sudbury, with the construction of Place des Arts du Grand Sudbury, a project spearheaded by Paulette Gagnon and Regroupement des organismes culturels de Sudbury.

We will have our community arts centre and several community organizations will ensure the viability and the vitality of our community. I have seen this happen over and over across Canada in the past five years. I am therefore hopeful.

I especially want to thank the voters of Sudbury for placing their trust in me, twice. It has truly been one of the greatest honours in my life being Sudbury's voice in Ottawa. I will be forever grateful.

Sudbury is a microcosm of Canada. For the majority anglophone population and over 45,000 French-speaking residents, Sudbury has the third-largest francophone community outside of Quebec and a strong indigenous population. Sudbury was built on the backs of waves of immigrants from Italy, Finland, Poland, Ukraine, Greece, Croatia, Serbia and many more, and more recently, a strong South Asian, Syrian and African contingent. Members can see I am proud to be a Sudburian.

I grew up in a working-class home in Kapuskasing.

My father Jean was a welder at the Spruce Falls mill for 40 years. We were a foster family and after welcoming 18 children over five years into our home, my mother Paulette got her high school diploma and her bachelor's degree in social work at Laurentian and Université de Hearst while managing the household, together with my father, for me, my sister Roxanne and my brother Denis. They instilled in me the values of loyalty and hard work, and these values will always be part of me. I am proud to be their son.

I will miss my amazing colleagues in the House. I really will. It has been an honour to serve my constituents and Canadians with them.

In conclusion, because of the inspiration of Chief Shining Turtle; because of Sophia Mathur and the Fridays for Future gang, Paulette Gagnon and René Larocque; because of the world-class people attracted to Sudbury and Canada, and projects like SNOLAB and industrial battery technology, I am eternally optimistic about our future. It is because of all of them that I leave this chamber more hopeful than I entered it, hopeful that Canada and Canadians will continue to meet the challenges of the future, and hopeful that this chamber and the wonderful Canadians who sit in it will continue to lead the way.

Regional Economic Development June 4th, 2021

Madam Speaker, throughout this pandemic, regional development agencies have been an invaluable tool in delivering money directly to businesses that needed it most. In budget 2021, this government has signalled that our RDAs will continue to play an important role in job creation and economic growth, including with the creation of an independent FedNor.

Could the Minister of Economic Development tell the House how an independent FedNor will help northern Ontario to grow its economy?

Collège Boréal May 27th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, in July 1993, it was announced that a new French-language college would be created in London, Ontario. Two years later, College Boréal opened its doors.

The youngest of 24 colleges in Ontario, Collège Boréal is a vital force that anchors the French-speaking community everywhere it has a campus. Collège Boréal trains and prepares students for the workforce, which eagerly welcomes them every year.

For the 19th time in 20 years, Collège Boréal achieved the highest graduation rate in the province as well as a 100% satisfaction rate from employers, also the highest rate in the province. Its motto, “nurturing knowledge and invigorating culture” is central to everything it does. It not only offers exceptional post-secondary education, but it also excels at applied research, settlement services and customized training.

This year we are celebrating 25 years of excellence at Collège Boréal. I choose Boréal.

Business of Supply May 26th, 2021

Madam Chair, I do not have any other questions, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank the ministers who are in the House. I myself do not have the honour of being in the House in person.

With regard to the investment in FedNor or making FedNor an independent agency, I would say that economic development is very important for our regions.

Rural Canada and economic development is crucial, and we have been advocating for a while now to have FedNor as an independent agency. In budget 2021, it has come to fruition, and that is because of teamwork and certainly the advocacy that was done. I know this will go a long way in northern Ontario to have these projects brought in by northern Ontarians, discussed in northern Ontario and make them become a reality.

We realize the importance of having boots on the ground, ears on the ground and decision-makers on the ground. I am thrilled by this investment and want to thank the minister for that.

Business of Supply May 26th, 2021

Madam Chair, that is clear. Those are historic investments.

I thank the minister and her team for the attention they gave us when we were making these important points.

I would like to also ask the minister another question with respect to tourism.

The tourism industry is important in northern Ontario and certainly across Canada. It has been one of the sectors that has been impacted greatly by the pandemic. Many local tourism businesses have shut down and stopped providing services from coast to coast to coast to do their part in keeping Canadians safe.

In 2019, tourism accounted for 1.8 million direct and indirect jobs throughout our country. The government recognizes that the impacts of the pandemic will continue to be felt by these businesses throughout the recovery process. In response, the government has created a plan to best support the tourism industry through initiatives like the tourism relief fund and other investments to promote Canada on the international stage once international travel is permitted, allowing us to once again open our borders to international visitors on a larger scale so they can experience the many things our great country has to offer.

Could the minister briefly explain why the tourism relief fund and other measures taken, such as those supporting safe air travel, are crucial for tourism businesses and local economies?

Business of Supply May 26th, 2021

Madam Chair, I am very pleased to be taking part in today's discussion.

As everyone knows, the COVID-19 pandemic has created immense costs for all Canadians and brought about the deepest and fastest recession worldwide since the Great Depression.

In Canada, more than three million Canadians have lost their jobs, and another 2.5 million have had their hours significantly reduced. This represents roughly 30% of the pre-pandemic workforce.

Furthermore, Canada's gross domestic product, or real GDP, dropped by 13% from the first half of 2020. As a result of the pandemic, economic activity in Canada declined about three times as much as in the 2008-09 recession, in a much shorter time.

Our government is committed to doing everything in its power to protect the health of Canadians and the Canadian economy during this extremely serious crisis. So far, we are living up to that commitment.

Canada's COVID-19 economic response plan has proved absolutely fundamental in bringing Canadians and businesses through these COVID-19 shock waves and stabilizing the economy. We delivered job protection through the Canada emergency wage subsidy, liquidity support to businesses through programs like the Canada emergency business account and income support to individuals through the Canada emergency response benefit and other recovery benefits.

Canada undertook what has been among the largest and most quickly implemented fiscal responses in the G7, at over 23% of GDP with budget 2021 investments included. While these fiscal costs have been high, we must bear in mind that these decisions were necessary to ensure the safety and health of all Canadians. Analysis by the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, confirms that in the absence of these direct support measures, Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio would not have been much different from what it is today.

The takeaway from this is clear. A failure to support Canadians and businesses would not only have left Canadians alone when they needed our help the most, but would have resulted in almost as large a debt burden, greater human misery and greater long-term economic scarring. The actions we have taken were effective and appropriate. Our support has helped keep food on the tables of millions of families and has staved off a flood of bankruptcies, kept the businesses we depend on going, and preserved our capacity to make a strong recovery. As the IMF has confirmed, our economic response plan was a cost-effective investment to avert what would have been a catastrophic economic collapse.

As a result, the Canadian economy is positioned for a strong recovery and is already showing signs of strength, with Canada's GDP rising by 10% annualized in the fourth quarter of 2020. Economists have significantly revised their forecasts for recovery upward since the fall economic statement. Following a record decline in real GDP in 2020, it is expected to grow by 5.8% in 2021 and by an additional 4% in 2022. The projected level of real GDP by the end of 2022 is almost 2% higher than projected in the fall economic statement.

In addition, real GDP is expected to return to its pre-pandemic level this fiscal year, about six months earlier than previously expected.

As everyone knows, we originally projected a deficit of up to $381.6 billion for 2020-21. However, thanks to a strong economic recovery aided by the remarkable resilience and ingenuity of Canadians across the country, we have spent less than we provisioned for. We are now estimating a deficit of $354.2 billion for the current fiscal year, significantly below our previous forecast.

The investments in jobs and growth in budget 2021 will help put the deficit on a downward trajectory. As noted in the budget, the debt-to-GDP ratio should fall to 49.2% by 2025-26, and the deficit will be only 1.1% of GDP.

We are seeing these positive results because of the investments we have made toward the recovery of our economy, which will enable us to repay our COVID debt. That is why budget 2021 proposed game-changing investments in housing, early learning and child care, students, small businesses, innovation, public transit, broadband and the transition to a cleaner and greener economy.

These investments will permanently bolster Canada's capacity for economic growth. We know that Canada is a country with tremendous human and natural resources to drive growth, and this budget will fuel that. These are investments in our future and they will pay great dividends.

The current low interest rate environment means that we can make growth-enhancing investments that will continue to raise our GDP growth and strengthen our ability to pay down the COVID debt in the future. These investments are not only an investment in our economy, they are also an investment in the lives and futures of Canadians across the country.

We will continue to focus on Canadians who have been most affected and ensure that our recovery includes specific measures to continue to support them as needed. We will create jobs by investing in the infrastructure that supports our communities and the social and economic well-being of Canadians. We will support clean growth and a more prosperous future for Canadians by investing in world-leading research and innovation.

We will give skilled workers the opportunity to connect with businesses. Furthermore, we will help hard-hit businesses invest in new technologies and hire more workers, so that they can move forward and jump-start Canada's economic recovery, as we get it back up and running.

As I have shown today, these investments are responsible and sustainable. They move Canada forward on the premise that finishing our fight against COVID-19 goes beyond simply defeating the virus. It is about healing the economic wounds left by the COVID recession. It is also about securing Canada's long-term economic growth outlook, and budget 2021 sets us on that path. It sets the stage for our victory over this pandemic and a more prosperous future for all.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak today. I now have a question for the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity. I am a proud Franco-Ontarian, and our minority language communities and two official languages are very important to me. They make me who I am.

It is clear to me that our government is committed to celebrating and promoting both official languages and that it recognizes the important role our two official languages play in the lives, traditions and culture of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

We know that education in French plays an essential role in shaping and promoting a bilingual country. Education in French must be available to all Canadians. Recent events have shown that our government must play a leadership role, certainly in my region.

Children in minority language communities everywhere, from Moncton to Victoria, including in my hometown, have participated in programs such as French immersion and the explore program, and these communities can speak to how beneficial these programs are, not only for post-secondary studies and access to the job market, but in many other ways. These programs help make our communities more diverse and contribute to preserving our linguistic history.

Our government also recognizes the value of post-secondary studies in the minority language and the importance of protecting the French language and supporting official language minority communities across the country.

Can the minister tell us why it is important to take these actions to promote Canada's two official languages?

What measures are set out in the budget to achieve that?

Official Languages May 6th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, since 2015, this government has been championing the rights of official language minority communities from coast to coast to coast, especially the Franco-Ontarian community.

As students at Laurentian face an uncertain future, they know this government will support them. Would the Minister of Official Languages tell the House what she is doing to ensure that Franco-Ontarians have access to post-secondary education in northern Ontario?

Privilege April 21st, 2021

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to respond to the question of privilege raised by the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London with regard to Bill C-288, which I introduced in the House on Monday.

I would like to begin by thanking the member for bringing this matter to my attention. It is true that I spoke to reporters about my bill between the time it was put on notice and its introduction in the House.

That was a mistake on my part. I thought that, since I had described my bill during the emergency debate last Wednesday evening, it was okay to repeat the same comments outside the House. I did not know that one should not talk about a private member's bill during that period.

I would like to sincerely apologize to all members. I did not intend to breach the parliamentary privilege of the House. I now understand the implications of that decision, and I pledge to become more familiar with the rules and practices of the House.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain myself on this important issue.

Laurentian University April 20th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the situation unfolding at Laurentian University in Sudbury. What I want to focus on today are the students affected by this tragedy.

Like most universities, exams at Laurentian started on April 12, the same day as the job losses and program cuts were announced.

Hundreds of students have to do their exams knowing that their program will no longer exist next year.

The hockey and swim teams were cut, casting student athletes adrift, with nowhere to play, train or study.

As the father of a university student athlete, I cannot imagine the pain of losing one's team, teammates, academic program and dream all at the same time.

I talked to the students about the devastating effects the cuts have had on them. No one has been spared.

As concerned and frustrated as I am about the enormous impact currently felt by Laurentian University students, I remain resolved to see the university emerge as strong as possible from this terrible situation. We owe it to our students, who have sacrificed so much to get this far in their studies, to search for a way forward so they can complete their studies and launch their careers.

Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act April 19th, 2021

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am introducing my private member's bill, which would amend the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, CCAA, by simply adding publicly funded post-secondary institutions to the companies excluded from CCAA protection. It is seconded by my colleague, the MP for Nickel Belt.

As members of the House know, Laurentian University filed for protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act on February 1.

As a result, it has been a long and difficult two months for the Laurentian University community, for Sudbury and for Northern Ontario.

As a Sudburian, I was shocked by the scope and depth of the cuts announced last Monday. I spoke to students, professors and staff about the cuts and about the devastating effects they will have on the entire community.

The fact that the Laurentian University administration felt that it had to cut more than 188 professors and staff and dozens upon dozens of academic programs, and that it had to throw thousands of students into chaos right in the middle of their exam period by using the CCAA process to salvage Laurentian University, demonstrates the need to amend the CCAA. This restructuring process was not created for such an institution or, obviously, such an outcome.

Until now, it was reasonable to assume that the provincial governments responsible for these institutions would ensure that their finances did not get out of control, but unfortunately, here we are. What is happening at Laurentian University should never be allowed to happen at any other university or college in Canada.

In my opinion, it is clear that the CCAA process was never intended to be used by publicly funded institutions in this way. With this bill, I want to guarantee that no other publicly funded post-secondary institutions in Canada, nor their students, professors or communities, suffer in the way that our Laurentian University community is suffering right now, and that provincial governments finally ensure the oversight and proper funding of our publicly funded post-secondary institutions.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)