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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Brome—Missisquoi (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 43% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Protecting Canada's Seniors Act November 5th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise here in the House to speak to this bill. As a member of the official opposition who sits on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I am participating in the debate at third reading, after the tabling of the House committee's report on Bill C-36.

Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, has to do with elder abuse, a problem the NDP is very aware of. As the official opposition critic, my distinguished colleague from Pierrefonds—Dollard, pointed out during her speech in this House on April 27, 2012, that Canada is facing an aging population, much like other countries in the world. According to Statistics Canada, the number of seniors in Canada is expected to grow from 4.2 million to 9.8 million between 2005 and 2036. In 2051, it is projected that seniors over the age of 65 will make up one-quarter of the Canadian population.

I would like to quote what my hon. colleague said:

Our society is enriched by its seniors, who still contribute a great deal to society by volunteering, sharing precious time with their families, helping their friends and neighbours, and investing directly in their communities and their surroundings.

...we need to ensure that the government and its programs adapt to the situation so that everyone can continue to live with dignity until they reach the end of their lives, without any problems. This is possible.

One of the challenges facing seniors is abuse, and this bill is a first step. It amends paragraph 718.2(a) of the Criminal Code regarding the principles for determining a sentence. In other words, the judge takes into account aggravating or mitigating circumstances, as applicable, before determining the sentence. Bill C-36 would add an aggravating circumstance to the Criminal Code. The proposed amendment reads as follows:

(iii.1) evidence that the offence had a significant impact on the victim, considering their age and other personal circumstances, including their health and financial situation,

This wording highlights certain elements regarding the victim, such as age, health and financial situation, among other things.

The NDP supported Bill C-36 at second reading and then proposed the adoption of two amendments. One of these amendments concerned the short title in the French version, and I am pleased to say that it was accepted. The title in French is “Loi sur la protection des personnes aînées au Canada”. However, the second amendment was rejected outright. As my colleague from Gatineau pointed out, the Conservatives unfortunately rejected the second amendment, but “significant impact” is being retained. We will see in practice what results from this, but it bodes ill in terms of interpretation by the courts.

According to a report of the ad hoc Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care, between 4% and 10% of seniors are victims of abuse. These numbers need to be treated with caution, however, because seniors who are being abused rarely report it, whether out of fear, shame or guilt. The relationship between the victim and the person committing an offence against a senior may also greatly complicate the situation. This is a particularly sensitive issue when the person in question is a family member, friend or caregiver.

Although the NDP will vote in favour of this bill, the official opposition party believes that additional measures are needed to curb elder abuse. These various measures would be implemented in collaboration with the provinces and territories. For example, having a telephone helpline for seniors who are being abused and professionals who specialize in this field would meet the needs of this growing segment of Canada's population.

Apart from all these measures, it must not be forgotten that within this segment of the population, approximately 250,000 people live in poverty, according to Conference Board of Canada figures. Things have to be done to ensure that the elderly can live in dignity, which requires government commitment to income security, affordable housing and health care.

Increasing transfers to the provinces for education, health care and social services, not to mention appropriate funding for NGOs and NPOs that work with the elderly, is the real solution and the way to proper prevention. What is needed is an improvement in the social fabric.

The official opposition supports this bill, but emphatically wishes to state that governments are responsible for adopting an appropriate approach to seniors, who have contributed socially and economically to society throughout their lives.

I believe that a long-term comprehensive strategy, as pointed out by my hon. colleague from Pierrefonds—Dollard, would be better. Mention was also made of protection before abuse begins, rather than afterwards. Appropriate efforts towards awareness, forms of prevention that can end isolation and support the elderly, appropriate training for all the stakeholders in the legal system and more services for seniors are all measures that would contribute to the well-being of seniors and minimize abuse. We need to remember that everyone will be a senior one day and that all can become victims of mistreatment whatever their sex, race, ethnic origin, income or educational background.

To conclude, for all these reasons, the official opposition supports this bill, even though we find it wholly inadequate and incomplete. It does not provide a comprehensive vision of how to solve the problem of elder abuse.

Protecting Canada's Seniors Act November 5th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague across the way a question.

With only a small investment, we could lift seniors out of poverty, which would be the most effective way to protect them from abuse.

Why is the Conservative government not making any effort in that regard?

Criminal Code October 25th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, before beginning my speech, I would like to give a short preamble. The bill was introduced following numerous acts of vandalism a few years ago against Canadian war memorials. Let us be clear: we condemn these acts and all such acts.

Like all my colleagues who spoke before me, I have the deepest respect for our veterans. At Remembrance Day ceremonies, we will all be taking part in a number of different events in our respective constituencies. It will be an opportunity to show our support and recognition for our soldiers and our veterans.

The fact that Canadians visit war memorials indicates just how deeply the people of Canada feel about the men and women of the Canadian Forces and about those who fell in the field of battle. Whenever a war memorial is desecrated, we can only condemn such a gesture.

However, I would like to distance myself from the comments made by my hon. colleague from Dufferin—Caledon about the scope of this bill. As noted by my hon. colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore, the official opposition critic for veterans, those who desecrate a war memorial do so carelessly. For that reason, I believe that the penalties provided in this bill are too severe. Moreover, adding minimum sentences would likely have a negative impact on the already high cost of our correctional system.

Veterans and active members of the Canadian Forces deserve decent services from the government. New Democrats believe that the best approach would be to show unconditional, concrete and strong support. This means an appropriate use of resources and proper support to ensure that people who have served Canada can live well and prosper in society. Furthermore, the Criminal Code already provides general forms of remedy.

For all these reasons, we will not be supporting C-217, An Act to amend the Criminal Code.

To conclude, allow me to mention something I learned from my experience as a teacher and criminologist: it is important never to forget that education is the most powerful form of prevention. I will not support this bill because it is too repressive and gives very little consideration to prevention.

Border Crossings October 23rd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, since January, many immigrants have been entering Canada illegally through the riding of the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead, and then going to Magog, which is in my riding.

I am not terribly worried about refugee claimants. The people I am worried about are those who come with criminal intentions, such as human or weapons trafficking or the importation of drugs.

The Minister of Public Safety can continue to deny that there is a problem, but the budget cuts to the Canada Border Services Agency are illogical and harmful. What is more, Morse's Line, East Pinnacle and Glen Sutton are three border crossings in my riding whose hours have been reduced, which is creating serious problems in the region with regard to safety and socio-economic imbalance. It is time that the government recognized that public safety and the economy go hand in hand with resource deployment, not with cuts.

I would therefore like to reissue the invitation that the opposition extended to the Minister of Public Safety last Sunday to come and see for himself the effects of his government's budget cuts—

Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act October 23rd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable colleague, who made a heartfelt speech on Bill C-15.

He spoke of strengthening the Military Police Complaints Commission. That is a step in the right direction for the government.

It goes without saying the Canadian Forces provost marshal will resolve complaints and protect complainants from being penalized for having made a complaint in good faith, but what more could we do to increase the Military Police Complaints Commission's authority?

Public Safety October 22nd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, in my region, problems at the border are a reality that cannot be ignored. Yet the Minister of Public Safety has announced $146 million in cuts to the Canada Border Services Agency. Some 260 jobs will be eliminated. There is already a network of smugglers at work, and several hundred immigrants have been the victims of human trafficking. This is not the time to be making cuts.

Why is the minister not taking this seriously?

Combating Terrorism Act October 19th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her wonderful speech. I agree with her that Bill S-7 creates a false sense of security.

The NDP supports the fight against terrorism. However, if I understand correctly, the government is not investing the necessary resources in our police forces, intelligence agencies, and so on. This bill will thus only serve to camouflage the Conservatives' inaction and pull the wool over Canadians' eyes. What is more, this bill does not respect human rights.

I am a criminologist by training, and I must say that I found it refreshing to hear talk of things like prevention, enhancing Canadians' quality of life, strengthening the social fabric, working on the dropout rate, and investing in education, social services, affordable housing. I liked that.

I would like the hon. member to talk about the real problems that are of concern to Canadians, whether it be the economy, ethics or the environment, In her opinion, what are the real problems that are of concern to Canadians?

Public Safety October 19th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the minister cannot continue to deny the problem. Just last night, 11 people crossed the border illegally. This shows the direct impact the Conservative cuts are having. The Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP are in desperate need of resources. This is making it easier for hundreds of people to enter Canada illegally, and the Magog police service in my riding is being forced to deal with these asylum seekers.

And what about drug and weapons trafficking? Does the minister realize that these cuts are endangering the lives of Canadians?

Combating Terrorism Act October 19th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I thank my distinguished colleague for his brilliant speech, in which he pointed out that the NDP supports the fight against terrorism and that Bill S-7 gives Canadians a false sense of security.

The bill does not provide police and intelligence services with the resources they need. We have the legal tools needed—in international treaties and the Criminal Code, for instance—to combat illegal terrorism activities.

What stood out for me was when my distinguished colleague said that the Conservative Party had spent $92 billion and had therefore poorly managed this project. Furthermore, in terms of people's quality of life, it completely ignored any notion of respecting human rights.

This bill acts as a smoke screen and avoids talking about the real problems. As for quality of life, Canadians care a great deal about their health and safety. Canadians want a national energy strategy and a national transit strategy. These are priorities and they would help tackle the real problems that the Conservative government refuses to talk about.

My questions, therefore, are as follows: will Bill S-7 take away the freedom of expression of Canadians who wish to demonstrate or engage in acts of dissent that have nothing to do with terrorism? Will it eventually lead to social profiling or labeling someone an environmental extremist for asserting their rights?

Combating Terrorism Act October 17th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île. If I understand correctly, Bill S-7 will leave the door wide open to injustices. It will tarnish our international reputation, which has already been battered by this government.

Can the hon. member tell us what values unite us as Canadians? She said that we fought for these rights. I should know, because I am a member of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights. I know that many countries do not have a charter of rights and freedoms like the one we have in Canada.

Can the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île tell us what unites us as a people? Will Bill S-7 divide us rather than bring us together?