House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

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

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to respond, just like the Minister of Foreign Affairs, by saying that the Auditor General made recommendations and that we are going to follow them, and that 32 projects benefited from these investments, and so on.

If someone asks me another question, this is what I am going to say.

Honestly, and to answer my colleague's question, I would be remiss if I did not point out that it is June 24, Quebec's national holiday. So I invite all the members to sing along: “Si j'avais les ailes d'un ange, je partirais pour Québec! Si j'avais des lumières sur mon bike...

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Let us remove the government and establish a vast board of directors made up of businessmen who will decide what is good for the people. That is the vision, the collective psychosis of the Conservatives, the reform ideal.

If you are engaging in social “desolidarization”, you will need a lot of locks. You would better buy locks! You will also need a lot of prisons. You will have to put a lot of officers on the border. We will not let the speculators, the usurers, the predators of the common good destroy the social and political progress of the last 100 years without reacting. No, it is out of the question!

The NDP members will stand up with workers and Canadians to defend something that cannot be locked up, put between four walls, fenced in, put behind barbed wire, something that you cannot leave at the border, something we cannot lock up. This thing that we will always stand up to defend is our freedom, our freedom of speech, our freedom of association, our freedom of organization, our freedom to get organized to live in a fairer society, enriched by all its members.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 24th, 2011

Madam Speaker, honourable members, brothers and sisters: lockout, lockout. It hurts to hear those words. I don't know whether the Speaker can see it from her Chair, but I have a bump here that dates back to the first lockout I took part in at Commonwealth Plywood some 30 years ago. The workers had been locked out, and the scabs were escorted in and out by police officers and private security services. Those security guards and police officers took billy clubs to the workers there and to the people who had come to support them. To my mind, a lockout is a violent measure. I see a member laughing over there, but that does not prevent it from being very violent. There is political violence in this kind of legislation.

For the Conservatives, when citizens demonstrate, it is often violent. Cutting jobs, imposing legislation, putting people out on the street, cutting $11 billion from public services: that is not violent for them. Making seniors wait in hospitals for 16 hours is not violent, no.

Lockout, lockout. This government loves locks; we should have suspected that. It also likes big fences around cities to protect them from dangerous and violent demonstrators. The summits of the powerful are protected from the legitimate demands of citizens.

This government really likes borders. It is putting a lot of money into border infrastructure, even in the backyard of the minister responsible for the Treasury Board. This government also likes prisons, lots of prisons with lots of locks.

To justify investing in prisons, the Prime Minister says there is a lot of unreported crime. Do workers who refuse to go back to work in response to a sorry piece of legislation commit that kind of unreported crime? Perhaps.

Touching their fences is another unreported crime that could help fill those prisons. That is dangerous. They arrested 1,200 individuals who dared to touch their fences; that is a major crime.

This government wants to lock the Canadian people into a system of logic, the logic of law and order. If things do not work the way it wants, it will put locks on our freedoms: the freedom to negotiate, the freedom to exercise pressure and eventually freedom of association perhaps. The only thing it will not put locks on is its privileges. No one puts a lock on the freedom to mine anywhere without the consent of the local communities. They have the right to operate a two-kilometre mine near a lake or near 62 rivers in the name of freedom of trade. They have the freedom to drill shale gas wells anywhere they want. They are free to dig a well in my backyard. No one is putting a lock on that kind of freedom.

They have the freedom to pollute the water, the air and the vast expanses of the Canadian Prairies with mining and oil residues. They have a firm grip on their freedoms. They have the freedom to exercise control to benefit the oil market, to raise prices. They have the freedom to concentrate communications businesses in order to send a message. We cannot put a lock on that. They concentrate businesses. They are good at that.

They have the freedom to speculate with the savings of small investors, without regulation or penalty. They gamble with our savings. They are free to do that.

They have the freedom to charge usurious interest rates of 20, 22, 23 per cent. There is nothing to it. Families are going into debt, young people in particular. They put them at the bottom of a well so they have to pay for 100 years. They have the freedom to avoid taxes.

We have nice little tax havens. We are free to go and put our money there. That is how we launder our money. It is fun. We make money. No one looks into that. Those are the freedoms they defend on the other side of the House. It is true. However, they do not respect the freedom of workers to organize, to negotiate. What about negotiating, exercising pressure or establishing a power relationship? No. We are talking about negotiations. All week long, I have heard the Minister of Labour say they negotiated for eight months. What kind of negotiations are we talking about? Negotiations designed to divide workers into two groups: one group for which they want to cut wages, undermine pensions and increase the retirement age. What are those false negotiations? False negotiations! You would think Canada Post Corporation was a bankrupt business asking its workers to make an effort to save the company. We know that workers, even unionized ones, often make those efforts. But we are talking about a business that makes a profit of about $281 million a year. It is not the case: Canada Post Corporation is not bankrupt.

To understand the offers made by Canada Post Corporation and, indirectly, the government, you have to understand that there is a political agenda behind this. The first item on that political agenda is to prove to everyone that the Conservatives will not make an issue of workers' rights. The second item is to prove that they are in power and that they are strong. It is true! One need only consider the ministers' condescending attitude in the past three weeks in their answers to the questions put to them. I am thinking of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who systematically repeats the same sentence to us. The Minister of Industry does the same thing when it comes to asbestos. They are not answering questions; their patting themselves on the back; and they are not meeting the expectations of the members of this House, not at all, any more than those of the public who would like to have answers to certain questions such as: What was done with the $50 million? How is it that no one has any documents on the matter regarding the decision-making processes that led to those investments? Those documents have simply disappeared.

The fundamental objective of the Conservative government's political agenda is to scuttle public services, to carve up the government, to make cuts to public services and, lastly—the ultimate objective—to privatize and eliminate government, contracting everything out to the market. It would be good if there was no more government and everything was private. That is the Conservative credo. We know that. We should privatize the hospitals, prisons, public services, police, water, the land, our land. In the collective psychosis of privatization, why not privatize the government itself, the government of the people? Let it be replaced by a board of directors! That would be a lot easier.

Resumption and Continuation of Postal Services Legislation June 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques to clarify the issue of “orphan clauses”, and explain how this issue is central to the current dispute.

If the Conservatives really wanted to avoid the need for special legislation, they could have dealt much earlier with the general issue of “orphan clauses”, and had them banned on the basis that they are both discriminatory and, ultimately, unconstitutional.

Libya June 14th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his speech.

Efforts are currently being made, and a great deal of emphasis is being placed on the military component and the United Nations resolution. However, could we get an update on the efforts currently being made to freeze Gadhafi's assets in the world? What is Canada's involvement in this effort?

Gadhafi is said to have immense wealth: $104 billion, some of which was invested in Bahrain, Kenya and Zimbabwe, in countries where it is difficult to block these funds.

We know that China and Russia are also refusing to block certain funds, which poses a problem. It takes money to wage war, so there is work to be done. I hope that part of our contribution as a country will be to have the money blocked.

I would like the hon. member to update me on the search for Gadhafi's billions.

The Budget June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, there is the problem of income for seniors, and there are the problems of essential services, such as health care and home care services. Seniors simply do not have all the support that a government or a society should be giving them. Massive cuts were made under the Liberals, particularly to health care funding. The huge federal deficit was offloaded onto the provinces. Then, that deficit was offloaded onto the hospitals. Now, our hospitals are in debt. A 16-hour wait in an emergency room is a long time for a senior. I think that the whole philosophy needs to change. We need to look for financial resources where they exist. Now, they are being used for speculation on the economy, which is plunging us into successive crises. We must use these margins and redistribute wealth in Canada, so that Canadians have access to free, high-quality services and so that these services are not abolished. That would benefit society as a whole, not just one small group.

The Budget June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, can the hon. member tell me what our seniors are supposed to do with $1.68 more a day? Is that enough to make up for the increased cost of heating, electricity, basic food items and gas? What could anyone do with an extra $1.68 a day these days? Buy half a loaf of bread or half a litre of milk? Would the member like me to go tell my mother that she is giving her $1.68 a day? Does she really consider this enough of an improvement?

The Budget June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister of Finance promised to make Canada the G8 country with the lowest corporate tax rates. That was supposed to lead to incredible wealth and more jobs, and this wealth was to be enjoyed by everyone. I am sorry to challenge this claim, but the reality is totally the opposite.

On April 6, an article in the Globe and Mail, based on data from Statistics Canada, demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that companies have not used the tax cuts to create jobs or to improve conditions for workers. And they have not invested in better machinery to make their companies more competitive, either. No, they have not. In fact, for two decades, companies have continued to invest between 10% and 13% in machinery. Tax cuts have not improved our ability to compete.

The numbers tell us that the tax cuts were essentially spent on bonuses for the companies' top executives and used to inflate the available cash flow. For what? For hedge funds. These are the same hedge funds that caused the 2008 financial crisis. They are in the process of creating another crisis for us, another bubble that will burst in our faces. In reality, the money that has been handed over to the corporations in the form of tax cuts since 2005 has not been invested in our collective wealth. Yes, wealth has been created, but only for Canada's privileged few.

Meanwhile, public services are deteriorating. The government is telling us that it does not have the money to fund them better and that, on the contrary, it needs to make more cuts. The government is announcing $17 billion in cuts. Bravo. The Conservative government says that it is very proud of Canada's economic action plan. I am ashamed of it. It does not include anything for unemployed workers or homeless people and it does not contain any measures for social housing. Quebec alone has a shortage of 50,000 social housing units. I did not see any measures in the budget to address this issue.

People who are living in poverty desperately need this social housing. What are we going to do? The government is proposing to do nothing. Ordinary people are struggling to make ends meet and the government is proud of abandoning part of the population to its fate. I saw that the hon. Minister of Finance was proud of his budget and that he abandoned people to their fate. Bravo. However, ordinary people are having trouble making ends meet.

I would like to remind the House that in 2006 and 2008, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights admonished Canada twice for its lack of effort to combat persistent poverty, and I quote:

...the minimum wages in all Provinces and Territories of the State party are below the Low Income Cut Off and are insufficient to enable workers and their families to enjoy a decent standard of living.

There is nothing there.

We are wondering mainly about the persistent waiting lists for social housing, which are still very long, particularly in the Montreal area. The number of food banks in this area, as well as in my own riding, is increasing. In Canada, 2.3 million people are affected by food insecurity. They are hungry. What are we going to do for them? Nothing is planned. In Quebec alone, 300,000 people are going to food banks each month. What is planned to help them? Nothing. That is the reality in Canada. It is also the reality in Quebec and in the Rivière-du-Nord riding. It is the result of government policies, those of the Liberal and Conservative governments that have been in power over the past 15 years. This has not changed. Rather than supporting our people by improving social policies, the Conservative government is completely abandoning the notion of social justice.

When I return to my riding this week, how could I explain to my 81-year-old mother that I voted for a budget that gives her an extra $1.68 per day to pay her bills? I cannot vote for that because it is unbelievable. We are talking about $1.68 to pay for hydro, food, gas and medication. I would be ashamed to vote in favour of this budget. It is simply disgraceful and disrespectful of the reality facing my mother and other seniors across Canada.

For these reasons, I will not vote in favour of this deceitful budget. The hon. members of the government should redo their homework and make amends to the poor. They forgot the poor. They have forgotten them.

This budget was written behind the closed doors of the major banks. The Minister of Finance and the corporate bigwigs wrote a budget. Bravo. Next time, I encourage the Minister of Finance to take to the streets, to come to Café de Rue SOS—if we can manage to save it—to write the budget with the homeless, people without documentation, the injured and people who have problems. We will sit down together and come up with a social justice budget instead of a plan to make the rich richer.

The Budget June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to take advantage of this opportunity to thank the people of Rivière-du-Nord for their support in the last election. I will defend their interests every day.

Public finances must be sound, the budget must be balanced, the public debt must be reduced, government arrogance must be combated and controlled...

Where does this quote come from? From Marcus Tullius Cicero, in the year 55 BCE. The Conservatives have not invented a thing with their rhetoric.

This week in Saint-Jérôme, the Café de Rue SOS, a little storefront café that welcomed vagrants, people with various drug problems, the poor and the undocumented of this world, had to close its doors. It was not because people were not eager to go there and get their only meal of the day. No, it was because its grant dried up and there is nothing for it in this budget. There is nothing to increase assistance for the homeless. They are forgotten. For this government, they do not exist.

While the business world, including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Conseil du patronat, were happy this week with the government’s budget, those who have been overlooked were left to nurse their hunger, and they are very hungry. They can be certain now of sinking a little further into poverty and exclusion every day. There is nothing in this budget for them.

This government’s whole approach to the budget is based on an illusion so cleverly maintained and so often repeated that it assumes the allure of truth. The illusion is that by reducing taxes on big business and becoming, as Minister Flaherty promised, the G8 country where companies pay the least tax—

Claude Léveillée June 9th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that we learned today of the death of one of the greatest singer-songwriter-composers of his generation, Claude Léveillée.

A pioneering crafter of Quebec song, this great artist has left behind lyrics and melodies that will forever resonate in the collective memory of Quebeckers. We will remember this intense songwriter, with his deep voice, seated at his piano, singing to us about his loves, his Frédéric, his nostalgic piano tunes, his inner self, his freedom.

On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Léveillée, and I pay tribute to this legend who made such a huge contribution to enriching Quebec culture.

And the member sang a Claude Léveillée song:

“Je me fous du monde entier...”