House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 33% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we ask that the vote be deferred to Monday, February 16, at the end of the time provided for government business.

Business of Supply February 5th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Hull—Aylmer for her speech, which made a lot of sense. She raised some very important points.

The federal government has shown its lack of support for Quebec time and time again. It withdrew funding from a number of industries. It took away employment insurance funding. It cut well-paying jobs in employment insurance processing centres in a number of regions. It made cuts to Canada Post, and so on. The government has made so many cuts that we need to find ways to revitalize the economies of our regions. Today's motion responds to that need.

According to the chamber of commerce, 4,000 jobs have been lost in Hull—Aylmer, in the Outaouais, where my colleague is from. The Conservative government has cut many public service jobs, which has hurt the region's economy.

Does my colleague know whether the Public Service Alliance of Canada has anything to say about the investment that the federal government should make in Hull—Aylmer and the Outaouais region? Does it want to work in partnership with the federal government? Is the Conservative government missing in action?

Questions on the Order Paper January 26th, 2015

With regard to employment insurance benefits: (a) what are the amounts paid out for employment insurance benefits in Quebec from fiscal year 2010–2011 to the current fiscal year, broken down by (i) year, (ii) economic region, (iii) electoral district, (iv) regional county municipality (RCM) or the most detailed level available; (b) how many beneficiaries have there been in Quebec from fiscal year 2010–2011 to the current fiscal year, broken down by (i) year, (ii) economic region, (iii) electoral district, (iv) RCM or the most detailed level available; and (c) if the information requested in (a) and (b) is not available, why is that the case?

The Environment December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Secretary-General of the UN told the Conservative government that it needed to do more about climate change, but the Conservatives responded by announcing that they would not regulate emissions from oil companies. Other sectors will have to do more to make up for excesses in the oil and gas industries.

Why do the Conservatives refuse to demand that these industries do their part in combatting climate change?

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's question.

This charter contains some fine words and has good intentions. We have nothing against good intentions, but we also want to see some concrete measures.

Many witnesses appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and said that the charter does not go far enough. No one said it better than the first nations representatives who appeared before the committee, which carefully examined Bill C-32.

We all know very well that victims need to feel reassured. If they reach out to the authorities to assert their rights, they have to feel comfortable and they have to know that we are going to support them and stand up for them, so they can feel safe doing so. Unfortunately, this bill does not seem to reflect what victims go through day to day. We want victims to know that if they call upon the police, they will get help. However, that is not what this bill does. It contains only ambiguous wording that appears to talk about rights, but frankly, what we are passing here is more like the hope that rights will follow.

The bill should have gone much further. I think we have failed as parliamentarians. This bill does not go far enough. It needs to be improved more, but I repeat, this is a start, and we have to start somewhere. It took the government eight years to introduce something of any interest. I congratulate it, but in eight years, I would have done a better job. I do not expect much from this government, so I have to be happy with what I get.

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for the interest he has shown during the debates on this bill. He asked a very relevant question.

I will talk some more about clause 21. Once again, the government is giving our provincial counterparts a mandate. They will have to implement a bill passed by the House, even though they do not know how much it will cost. The government is not giving them any additional help to implement the changes proposed in the bill.

During a trial, an accused who agrees to plead guilty often negotiates for something. It is often very worthwhile and efficient for the justice system. It happens regularly. Now, that plea bargaining process will be greatly hindered by wording that was clearly poorly chosen. The government is creating a very worthwhile right, but it is not giving any indication of how much it will cost. We need to work with our provincial partners. The government cannot simply continue to pass the burden on to the provinces without expecting them to rebel at some point.

I hope the government will try harder to work with the provinces and give them the financial means needed to carry out the mandates being forced on them. That will make our justice system efficient. This bill needs to contribute to that.

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the bill before us is definitely a step in the right direction. It is a good starting point. However, it is by no means enough. We will support the bill at report stage because it is a starting point. However, it does not go far enough.

I would like to point out that the NDP has always stood up for the rights of victims. If I may, I would like to go back in time. Even in the 1800s, social democratic parties pushed for the rights of workers who were victims of violence and work accidents. The first protection plan for victims of workplace accidents was implemented in Germany, and it was the social democratic parties that worked very hard for that. That said, I will return to a more recent time.

In 1984, Parliament adopted and enacted the Workers Mourning Day Act. The idea was to commemorate the victims of accidents in the workplace. It was work that was done by the NDP at the time, with the collaboration of other members of the House. It was a great victory for the labour movement in this country.

A good friend of mine, Elizabeth Weir, the former leader of the New Democratic Party of New Brunswick, was able to enact very similar legislation in New Brunswick in the year 2000.

Workers' rights are at the heart of the NDP's mandate. For that reason, I certainly have a great interest in this bill, which will extend rights to victims generally.

I do worry about the bill actually bringing forward too few rights. It seems to be focused more on photo opportunities and the beginnings of a sentiment that victims should have more rights. Regrettably, the bill will actually not enact that many rights for our victims.

Ms. Lange, a victim's mother, has stated that “Beyond the sentencing stage of the process, the victims basically fall off the face of the earth” and that “Rights need to go beyond the criminal process for this bill to even be a bill of rights.”

We did not go far enough. It is just the beginning of a process. I think we need to really develop a true bill of rights and not just one that has the name “bill of rights” and is in fact simply raising awareness that victims should have rights. I think there should perhaps be a better title for this bill.

We need to concern ourselves with the fate of victims. This bill is a start but it is far from adequate. If I could be permitted to speak for a moment about one of the witnesses who testified, I will just say that Ms. Dawn Harvard, the vice-president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, said it really well. I will cite her testimony at the justice committee:

Almost half of aboriginal women in Canada live in poverty. This poverty exacerbates the situations of violence, abuse, and addictions, and often, sadly, leads to incarceration. We have heard talk of the missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada....

She went to say, very well I think, that:

Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices, it's a denial of opportunity, and it's a violation of our human dignity.

That speaks to the victims of this country. Regrettably, this bill does not address the daily expressions of being a victim that aboriginal women especially face in this country.

This bill will give victims an opportunity to address some concerns during some of the criminal proceedings, but even then the actual rights that we are affording them are far from adequate.

First nations are a very good example. Who are these first nations supposed to go to in first addressing their requirement to have rights expressed? Who does a victim of violence in a remote community go to? Perhaps it is the local police, but have the local police been sensitized to the plight of aboriginal women in this country? Will the victims feel confident enough to go to their local police officers to lodge their complaints? Will the police officers know enough to say, “Yes, you have a bill of rights. You have rights, and we will be here to defend them.”?

Nothing in the bill has given any of our provincial colleagues the capacity or ability to ensure that those rights are going to be made available. Once again, the current federal government is saying things that are very nice and look good on paper, but it has not put the resources forward to ensure that those rights would actually be expressed in a daily manner.

I, for one, do not believe that people who live in remote communities in this country will even know that the bill exists. I really wish that the government had taken a bit more time and effort to ensure that all the resources were in place to make sure that victims know that they have rights. They have rights today and through this bill they should have more rights in the future, but we need people to actually know that those rights are going to be there.

In poorer communities—and where I live, there are a number of poorer communities—people do not have the understanding that they can spend their hard-earned money to go and see a lawyer who will then inform them of all their rights. Often people simply cannot afford to take that route. Unfortunately, the bill seems not to make that any easier.

The Conservatives have been talking about this bill since 2006, when they came to power. They have been promising to enact a victims bill of rights since 2006. I will congratulate the government for finally, after eight years, putting it down on paper—not just using it as a photo op, but actually trying to have some real, concrete debate on this matter. Unfortunately, I do not think they went nearly as far as they had expected.

The Canadian victims bill of rights does not designate legal obligations for other stakeholders in the judicial system. It simply provides access to a vague mechanism to file complaints with various federal departments, agencies, and organizations that have a role to play in the justice system when victims have their rights infringed. As a result, when complaints are directed at provincial or territorial organizations, including police or the crown or even a victims rights organization, they will be processed directly under the laws of the appropriate province or territory. There are no specific funds, none, that have yet been attributed for the implementation of the mechanisms that the bill would provide.

I do not understand how the government expects that things are going to happen without resources being put in place. The Conservatives do this all the time. I have seen it over and over again in the bills that I have seen since 2011 in this place. I scratch my head as to what they think the provinces are going to do with these unfunded mandates that we keep sending to them.

I would like to point out that a lot of interesting testimony was brought to the justice committee. I had the opportunity to sit in on many of those sessions. It brings a tear to one's eye to hear the plight of many victims in this country, and they all had justifiable concerns to bring to the justice committee.

I will speak very briefly on some of the issues that were brought up by the Canadian Bar Association, and I will speak specifically to clause 21 in the bill.

Clause 21 would add a provision requiring prosecutors to take reasonable steps to notify victims of a guilty plea. In this clause, we see that the victims will have the right to be informed if the accused pleads guilty during a trial. The problem is that if there is bargaining and the accused pleads guilty during the plea bargaining or during a court appearance, must the trial be terminated? Is the trial suspended until the victims are notified that the accused will plead guilty? Normally this type of bargaining is done very quickly.

Unfortunately, the bill seems to put the brakes on a very efficient justice system. Once again, not only will the bill cost victims money because they will have to find out about this charter, which has value, but all provincial trials will be more expensive.

If anyone would like to ask a question about this during the time for questions, I would be very happy to answer.

Victims Bill of Rights December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech and I thank her for the good work she has done on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

This bill has had quite a bit of fine-tuning. It was not easy to strike a balance that took into account all the material presented by the witnesses. For instance, the House should look at clause 21 of the bill. This clause provides that prosecutors would have to take reasonable steps to inform victims that an agreement for a guilty plea has been reached.

That was a cause of much discussion in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Some wonder if it goes too far and if it is a necessary element, especially given the testimony by the Canadian Bar Association. Can the hon. member tell us something about clause 21?

Public Works and Government Services December 11th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Public Works and Government Services Canada is responsible for the Van Horne bridge that joins Quebec and New Brunswick.

Unfortunately, the bridge's sidewalks are snow covered and the minister forgot to negotiate snow removal. Winter is here. Yesterday, another 40 centimetres of snow fell in the Gaspé, and the communities of Listuguj, Pointe-à-la-Croix and Campbellton feel abandoned.

Will the government make sure that the sidewalks are passable?

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act December 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Québec for her question. I think she is absolutely right. This is not about balance. This is about two rights, two obligations that need to be respected.

Bills have to pass the test and justify themselves as laws in a free and democratic society. Unfortunately, I do not think that the bill before us passes that test. It should have been debated more thoroughly and improved in committee.

It is unfortunate that the government is in such a hurry to pass a bill that does not respect the rights and freedoms of Canadians or of parliamentarians, who have to ensure that all bills stand up to scrutiny.

As we all know, governments are supposed to ensure that their bills are constitutional. Unfortunately, in this case, perhaps the government's lawyers provided bad advice or made a mistake. Frankly, this bill does not deserve our support.

I hope that the Conservative Party members will take the time to read this bill closely so they can see how harmful it is in terms of taking rights away from Canadians, who do not deserve this.