House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Rivière-du-Nord (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act June 18th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am thinking not of today's workers necessarily, but of future generations of workers.

Here is a government, a gang of politicians who, in their great wisdom and with all their rhetoric, are telling future generations that they will have to work harder, that they are not productive enough, that they, the politicians, will not pass on the benefits that our generation had, that it is over, because they themselves used them all up.

I am glad this member was the one to ask me this question, because he is young. The people of his generation are the ones who will have to work until the age of 67.

We also do not know what the future will look like, because the economic situation is fragile. It remains fragile around the world and in Canada, despite the rhetoric spewed by the Minister of Finance. Consider Europe: it could all fall apart from one day to the next. We do not know what our future generations will inherit.

I hope the social programs that we put in place and that we have fought for over the years will still exist. We will continue to fight to maintain them.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act June 18th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

I admit that the environment is not my area of expertise, but what I have been told, and people can check the bill themselves, is that Bill C-38 will reduce the number of environmental inspections and assessments from roughly 4,000 to about 40. To me, that seems like quite a significant reduction, particularly given the fact that, according to one statistic I read, there have been 871 pipeline leaks this year alone. It seems to me that if the government stops monitoring these projects, then who knows how many such leaks will escape our notice and disappear into the environment.

I see that as a major problem because the Conservatives' economic action plan is essentially based on developing the oil sands and those notorious pipelines. The government is cutting assessments while going full speed ahead with pipeline development. We are headed for catastrophe.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act June 18th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Churchill.

This evening, I am pleased to address the House, but not the Conservatives. Actually, I would like to speak to the people at home, particularly those in my riding. I would like to speak to the people who work in plants, those who work at Miller Electric, TAC Machine Shop, Transport Papineau Internationale, Luxorama, Chalut, ICC or anywhere in Saint-Jérôme industrial park. I would also like to speak to the cashiers working at Provigo or IGA, the waitresses in restaurants, truck drivers, taxi drivers, seamstresses, hairdressers, masons, carpenters, people who work hard every day. They wake up, go to work and work hard to get a pay cheque at the end of the week—a pay cheque that barely covers their basic needs.

The savings rate in Canada is in a terrible state. First, RRSP contributions are going down year after year. Second, the average RRSP contribution is $2,900 in Quebec and about $4,000 in Canada. With $2,000 a year, retirement does not look so good.

I also want to speak to the people at Aveos, Electrolux, Mabe, Caterpillar and Daimler. In fact, I am speaking to all the workers in the companies that have closed up shop this year. I want to speak to the men and women who used to work there. I want to tell them that this government is not working on their behalf. The government says that it has no choice, but it is making choices. Other countries are dealing with the question of pensions differently. Here, the government says that, if people lose their jobs, they have to find other ones paying up to 30% less, they have to travel some way from their homes and, after all that, they have to work until they are 67.

I could have talked about other things because this bill affects 70 other laws. My concern this evening, though, is the workers of Canada. Can we imagine construction workers, masons or painters working until they are 67? From their early 50s, they have bad days, muscles work less well, things get tough. People who lose their jobs at 45, 50 or 54 years of age have extreme difficulty getting back on their feet. Once their employment insurance benefits run out, they often end up on welfare. Now those people are being told that they have to work until they are 67. Why? What reasons can there be?

I looked for the reason. I looked at the entire Canadian economy. For some people, things are going very well. The average salary among Canadian CEOs is $8 million a year. Money is not a problem, because with $8 million a year, a person can take a sabbatical or retire at 59 or 60, with lots of cash. That is an illegitimate accumulation of wealth. These people have it all. At the same time, ordinary people, who work hard day in and day out, see that their purchasing power has remained the same for 30 years. Who are these people working for?

This evening, I am not speaking to the members on the other side of the House; they do not want us talking to them, anyway, because they have cut us off 30 times now. I am speaking to the people at home watching television. Perhaps a worker, somewhere, has worked hard today and has worked hard this year, but has not been able to put much money aside, and cannot imagine how he can keep working until age 67. That is the challenge; asking people to work until they are 67. Whoever thought up that line in the bill never earned his wage by the sweat of his brow. Whoever did that considers people as mere numbers that can be added, multiplied, subtracted and pushed to the bitter end.

I am reminded of my grandfather who worked for 48 years in the Dominion Rubber factory. At the end of those years of service, he was worn out, completely used up.

The government wants to make those people work two extra years. That is unacceptable. Who do the members opposite work for? I ask the question, but I have some answers.

I was reading the headlines that announced the oil companies' record profits. Imperial Oil's profits are skyrocketing by 64% this year. That is great. Then there is the $14.6 billion in profits for Esso, which saw its number of employees in Canada drop from 14,000 in 1991 to 4,900 today. Those profits are drive essentially by ExxonMobil, in the United States, which is the main shareholder. Who do those people work for? They work for the banks, which made record profits in the second quarter of this year to the tune of $7.6 billion.

I think of the people I am talking to this evening, who are sitting at home. They are watching the situation and seeing how the Conservatives have been bragging from the start of this session about the incredible performance of Canada's economy. Canada's economy is doing well for some, but for others it is a prison and their sentence has just been increased to be served until age 67.

What do we do with a government such as this? We stand tall, denounce the lies, injustices, and biases, and we wait until we can give it the boot, because that is the only way to bring in a Canadian government that thinks about the ordinary people, workers and families. The members opposite do not work on our behalf. I am convinced that Canadians can find the proof of what I am saying all through this budget.

In addition to not working on our behalf, this government lies. On March 22, it told us that it would announce a measure to enhance the guaranteed income supplement for seniors. Tax professionals told us that not all seniors who receive the income supplement will be entitled to the $600, which amounts to $2 a day; only 42% will receive it. The Minister of Finance played a trick, a tax shell game, and only half of seniors will receive the $600.

I said it was a lie, but it was also a trick. In light of this, how can Canadians believe for one second that the Conservatives are thinking about the people when preparing the budget?

That is why we have rejected this budget. We will continue to debate it in coming months and years because it has long-term implications for the environment, poverty, unemployment and ethics. By eliminating the Auditor General's power to audit certain government agencies, the government is concealing the information so that the public no longer has access to it.

For all these reasons, I will be voting against the bill.

Government Subsidies June 13th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, with Bill C-38, the Conservative government continues to muzzle anyone who has the misfortune of saying or thinking something that contradicts the Prime Minister's Office.

After attacking scientists, the Conservatives are now attacking civil society groups.

Environmental groups are not the only ones being put through the wringer. It is happening to other groups that are politically active, fighting to eliminate poverty or demand better housing, for example.

Why are the Conservatives so intent on going after all the groups that contradict them, instead of learning from their experience? Is this the Prime Minister's vision of democracy—starving anyone who says what he does not want to hear?

Copyright Modernization Act May 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I do not claim I can answer all of my hon. friend's questions.

Speaking practically, as soon as this bill is passed, artists and creators across Canada will lose $21 million in mechanical royalties in the first year. That is a small amount if we consider Canada's total artistic, cultural and industrial output, but for the artists who received this money in 5¢ and 10¢ increments, these were amounts that helped them pay their bills and motivated them to keep writing and singing.

The CHUM broadcast group told us that, because of this bill, broadcasters would no longer be paying the mechanical royalties, because they would be able to make a copy that would be valid for 30 days and, when the 30 days were over, make another copy of the copy. Thus, the mechanical royalties that now go to the artists or other rights holders would no longer be paid.

We have continued to talk about the provisions in the bill because they hinder and jeopardize the work of hundreds and thousands of artists in Canada. We will keep on speaking out against the bill.

Copyright Modernization Act May 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, if the government thought it could limit debate by limiting the time available for debate, it was wrong, because the debate may not go on in this House but it will continue in court for many years. I think a golden opportunity has been missed.

I was speaking earlier about royalties. In this bill, there could have been something about resale royalties for visual artists who create works that they may sell for $1,000 or $2,000. If the work is sold for $500,000 on the market 15 years later, part of that sale price could have gone to the creator of that work. This provision was not even discussed by the Conservatives.

Copyright Modernization Act May 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the witnesses who appeared before the Legislative Committee on Bill C-11.

We heard from approximately 50 witnesses during our study of Bill C-11. Prior to that, 75 witnesses appeared before the committee studying Bill C-32. Well over 100 witnesses shared their views and their concerns about modernizing copyright.

Official opposition MPs worked closely with DAMIC, which I would like to thank, and with the Canadian Conference of the Arts, to draft 70 amendments on thorny issues.

Copyright holder associations, associations of writers, composers, creators, artists, photographers and directors shared their concerns and suggested amendments. This is a compilation of the amendments they suggested.

During our work in committee, we were unable to present all 70 amendments, so we selected the amendments that were most likely to create a win-win situation for everyone, to pass the legislative committee's test and to be agreed to by both the governing party and the opposition.

Unfortunately, the Conservative government rejected all of the amendments we presented, which were not even all the amendments or concerns suggested by the industry and the creators. It as if this hundred or so people representing a variety of organizations came to a legislative committee to describe the problems and propose solutions, but none of these solutions were acceptable to the government.

I must say that this was the first time I had participated in this process, and I found it rather sad, because copyright—the rights of authors—is the very foundation of the ability to innovate and create in the arts, culture and literature. Such a denial of the realities described to the committee may leave us speechless.

With this bill, the government is introducing some 40 exceptions to the Copyright Act. These exceptions are contrary to the spirit of the international conventions in this field, and in particular the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

The Berne Convention established a three-step test to determine whether or not a work is used fairly and whether it corresponds to the proper use of a work with regard to copyright.

First, the use of the work must not conflict with the normal exploitation of the work; second, it must not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author; third, there may be an exception only if the reproduction of the work is limited to special cases.

So here we are faced with about 40 exceptions that could have been special cases, but that seem to be generalized cases of uses that are not, or are no longer, covered by the Copyright Act.

I will use an example that has raised a lot of questions: fair dealing in the education sector. Clearly, when the Copyright Act was created, television, the Web, Twitter, Facebook and the Internet did not exist. The act has had to be adapted, as things have evolved, to take into account technological innovation. Today, the Web has truly transformed the notion of the use of a work, as that notion has historically been understood.

This is particularly striking in the area of education, with the arrival of electronic boards and websites that teachers use to give their classes. Here is an example that I already gave at a committee meeting, but that serves its purpose: imagine that I am an author and that I am writing a book on the Conservatives' tendency to want to limit democracy. That is the title of my book. A teacher gives a class on the evolution of politics in Canada and puts my text, which he found in my collected works, on his website. He asks his students to go and consult the text. As things stand, if the teacher photocopies my text on the Conservatives' abuse of power, as the author I receive a small sum of money, and agreements are honoured, particularly in Quebec with respect to Copibec.

In future, if the teacher posts my text on his website and students consult it, I will not receive a cent. If, on his website, the teacher decides for educational purposes to add an excerpt from a film, which is protected by copyright, he will not have to pay for copyright. If he adds music or a song by Richard Desjardins to his website for the purposes of fair dealing in education, he will not have to pay Richard Desjardins.

So here we are in a new situation where the law allows for widespread use of the products that creators and the industry produce, with no financial compensation. That tears down a model of copyright we are familiar with. This is not a continuation, it is a departure. The Conservatives want to modernize the Copyright Act, but they are breaking from it. They had the opportunity, by modernizing the Copyright Act, to extend the private copying regime to devices that are used to make copies of creative content—texts, music and the rest—but they have refused to expand the private copying system.

For the people watching us, the private copying system is relatively simple and was established when people started to make copies of music and films on videocassette. It made sure that part of the money from the sale of a CD or a videocassette went into a fund to support artists, creators and rights holders. The government could have expanded that system to cover all devices used in the digital era, but it was completely focused on connecting royalties with a tax. It intentionally tried to confuse people and fudge the issue.

I have only a minute left. That is unbelievable—how can I finish in that time? This is a bill in which the government could have simplified things and made things clearer. Instead, it is a bill that will create extreme complications. Everything is going to get settled in the courts. There is the matter of contracts. Contracts are under provincial jurisdiction. Will the government be able to keep these provisions in the legislation? Education is also under provincial jurisdiction. Does the bill infringe on provincial powers? That is a good question. There are also obligations under the Berne Convention. All of the clauses of this bill may be litigated in the courts and be justified by lawyers. It is going to cost authors, composers and creators enormous amounts of money when they have to prove the damage they have suffered. I think the Conservatives could have made it easy and they have intentionally complicated things to please their friends. I am eager to take questions.

Points of Order May 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs seems to be enjoying a privilege denied other members of this House.

I watched him while the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism was answering the question. He went and stood next to his whip and stayed there for about a minute, watching the chamber. Is that a parliamentary attitude?

Can we allow people to wander about the House like that? I would like you to call him to order, because if 200 or 300 of us were to adopt his attitude, it would look like Grand Central station. And that is not right. In the House, we should have decorum.

When a minister is answering a question, I think the minister should remain in his place and not stand beside the whip and remain there for 60 seconds, observing the chamber as if he were the master of the House.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act May 10th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the member is saying things that I never said. I would like my comments to be checked. I did not say that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act May 10th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate my colleague. She gave a brilliant speech on the hidden aspects of this budget.

I would like to ask her to come back to the issue of retirement at age 67. My grandfather worked all his life in a factory, and I must say that when he retired at 65, he was completely burnt out. My father was a firefighter. I have difficulty picturing a 67-year-old firefighter climbing a ladder to save people from a burning building.

Could my colleague comment on that, that is, on the case of construction workers and all those who have physically demanding jobs or even those whose jobs involve more intellectual activities but who, as time goes on, may not be able to do them as well as they once did? I find this situation ironic given that productivity is a priority in Canada.