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

Safe and Accountable Rail Act March 31st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a similar question regarding the speed of trains and the loads on the tracks. I have seen a convoy of these infamous oil tankers pass by at what seemed to be a fairly high speed. I am new to this file, but does the government have anything planned to make sure that these convoys go slower in urban areas? Obviously, if a train is moving at 15 km per hour then the risk that it will explode and catch on fire is much lower than if it is moving at 80 km or 100 km per hour. I would like to hear what the member has to say about that.

Questions on the Order Paper March 31st, 2015

With regard to the Offshore Tax Informant Program: (a) since the program was established, (i) how many calls have been received, (ii) how many cases have been opened based on information received from informants, (iii) what is the total amount of the financial awards given to informants, (iv) what is the total amount of money collected by the Canada Revenue Agency; (b) how many current investigations are the result of information received through the program; and (c) how much money is involved in the current investigations?

Canada Revenue Agency March 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we are aware of the minister's talking points, but the University of Victoria's Environmental Law Centre raised some troubling facts in its report. Some 52 organizations, mainly environmental and advocacy groups, are being monitored by the Canada Revenue Agency. It is a veritable witch hunt for purely political purposes.

Will the Conservatives get their priorities straight and deal with tax evasion instead of going after charities?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, if the government really wanted to help immigrant women with these issues, it would welcome them and provide them with solutions and support.

Unfortunately, this bill offers nothing in the way of prevention. My colleague is quite right: there are dozens of provisions in the Criminal Code—which I will not name—that already address the problems and provide for the prosecution of those who perpetrate such abuse.

In the Criminal Code we find section 264 concerning assaults, section 265 on sexual assaults, and sections 271 and 273 on kidnapping. I could name 50 Criminal Code sections that would apply to forced marriage or forcing young people to leave the country and be married elsewhere.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my dear colleague took the words out of my mouth.

Indeed, this is a botched bill that will likely cause more problems than it solves. Earlier, the Minister of State for Social Development answered my colleague's question about what would become of the wives and children of a person deported from Canada for polygamy, claiming that they would be protected and have recourse. However, the bill includes no such provision. I believe the minister said that just for show.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his questions.

Indeed, the NDP supports the provisions of the bill on prohibiting marriage for those under 16. I too was struck by the title of this bill, considering that my research shows that a third of the world's population, in all countries combined, lives in polygamy. I get the impression that barbaric is not the right word to describe these countries.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we are back to debating Bill S-7. After 10 years of Conservative rule, we are headed in a direction in which we do not want to go. This bill is yet another example of the government's habit of playing politics at someone's expense—this time at the expense of women who are victims of violence.

In 2012, when we opposed the conditional permanent residence measure, we claimed that it gave too much power to sponsors with respect to the responsibility and rights of their female spouses and that it forced them to remain together for two years. The real effects of that have become clear. In my riding, for example, two women experienced psychological violence and they were forced to flee their homes, under the threat of being deported by their sponsors. Their sponsors would threaten them, saying that if if the women left they would arrange to have them deported. That is too much power in the hands of the sponsor.

The government is still taking—or at least focusing on—a repressive approach, instead of adopting a supportive approach. Earlier, the Minister of State for Social Development said that women in a polygamous marriage, for example, would be protected if the polygamist in question was found guilty, since this practice would be criminalized. She said the opposite of the truth. It is very clear that this bill does not contain any provisions enabling conditional permanent residents to remain in Canada if their polygamist partner is deported.

There is an old naval rule that states “women and children first”. The government is going against that rule and actually putting people who are already vulnerable or being abused in a difficult situation.

Another example of this pertains to forced marriages. The bill criminalizes everyone involved in a forced marriage. Yes, it is an offence and a practice that is unacceptable. Criminalizing everyone involved was already introduced in Denmark. What has been the result? Since the law passed in 2008, not a single charge has been laid. Why? Because it would mean asking the young girl being forced to marry to report her family members, who then would become criminals—her uncles, aunts, parents, brothers, sisters and cousins. Imagine the burden this places on the shoulders of these children. It is unbelievable.

At the same time, the bill contains no support measures for either the victims of polygamy or for the young girls being forced to marry—and yet everyone who took part in the Senate committee debate called for such measures, to make sure that the approach adopted is not based on criminalization but rather on support and prevention. We must work proactively, ahead of the situation. We need to make sure that people integrate into our communities with a better understanding of our way of life, our ways of doing things. Young women also need to know their rights.

I would like to come back to the two women who were threatened in my riding. They have rights; they have the right to be free of violence and constraints at the hands of their sponsors. No one explained those rights to them. They believed that if the sponsor mistreated them psychologically, he could have them deported to their home country with no recourse. We need answers and solutions to those issues. Unfortunately, the bill does nothing to address them.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the recent speeches and to the answers that were provided. I would like to start out by saying that we oppose polygamy, forced marriage and underage marriage. We strongly believe that this bill is not an appropriate response to the serious problem of gender-based violence, which is not a cultural problem. Bill S-7 could actually exacerbate existing problems.

Experts who appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights explained that criminalization alone will not resolve the problem. On the contrary, they said, it will exacerbate the problem. In fact, several sections of the Criminal Code already provide avenues of remedy to the offences targeted in this bill. Instead of politicizing the debate and the issue of gender-based violence, the government could enforce the legislation already in place. It must also commit to implementing a national action plan to fight violence against women and investing more in organizations that provide services to women who are victims of forced or underage marriages.

I was listening to the last speaker answer the following question: will women in a polygamous marriage be protected if the husband is deported? She said that yes, measures could be applied and protections were in place. I am sorry, but there is nothing in this bill about that. The bill does not contain any provisions to allow women who are conditional permanent residents to remain in Canada if their polygamist partner is deported. The hon. member said the opposite of the truth.

No woman should have to suffer gender-based violence, including forced and underage marriage. The bill could have serious consequences by inadvertently criminalizing victims of polygamy and by penalizing and deporting children and separating them from their family.

Instead of focusing on a sensationalist bill that does not address the root of the problem, the minister should commit to holding serious consultations on a wide scale with community groups and experts to effectively deal with the problem of gender-based violence. The government should also invest more in organizations that provide such services as safe and affordable housing and assistance to families that are often traumatized at having to deal with complicated legal and immigration systems.

However, the Conservatives' use of these themes for political ends is nothing new. As members will recall, in March 2012 the Conservatives introduced legislation to crack down on marriage fraud, requiring that the sponsored individual live with the sponsor for a period of two years under penalty of deportation or criminal charges. Speaking of barbaric practices, that is one.

In my riding, I have two constituents who are each married to a woman from Cuba. These Cuban women arrived in my riding last year. Unfortunately for them, the two men were abusive, so the women had to turn to local women's shelters to escape the abuse inflicted by these two violent men. However, by acting to defend themselves, the women faced the very real possibility of being deported from Canada.

What happened after that? We lost track of the two women. Of course, they do not want to return to Cuba. They appreciated life here, but in this case, they were not guilty of violence. It was the men who brought them to Canada who were guilty of violence. Thus, we are faced with a measure that is completely unfair and leaves victims of violence to carry the burden of the abuse they suffer. This should not be the case.

I will continue my speech after question period.

Canada Revenue Agency March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives showed up in droves yesterday for the Pen Canada gala, which celebrates Canadian authors and literature.

I hope they were at least a little embarrassed when they showed up in their tuxes and bow ties, since they have accused the organization of being too partisan and have tried to revoke its right to issue charitable tax receipts. The government always seems to be targeting the progressive organizations that stand up for the environment, culture and human rights. Enough with this witch hunt.

When will the Conservatives stop targeting anyone who does not share their opinion?

Canada Revenue Agency February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in 2015, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada will give the Canada Revenue Agency 10 million declarations of transfers of $10,000 or more. The problem is that the agency has 3,000 employees less than it did in 2012 to process 10 million more declarations. Boy, white collar criminals sure can sleep well at night with the Conservatives in power.

How can the Minister of National Revenue claim that combatting tax evasion is a priority when she has even less staff to process the piles of new information her department is receiving?