House of Commons photo


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

Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act September 17th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague if she believes that the provinces and the territories were consulted before this bill was drafted and why consultation is important.

Questions on the Order Paper September 17th, 2012

With respect to ice wine: (a) when does the Canadian Food Inspection Agency intend to decide on the criteria for use of the name “ice wine” as part of amendments related to wine labelling; and (b) what were the reasons for reviewing the regulations concerning use of the name “ice wine”?

Petitions September 17th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by Canadians from across the country who are opposed to Motion No. 312 moved by the Conservatives, which is a veiled attempt to reopen the abortion debate in Canada.

Canadians had this debate decades ago and they do not want to reopen it. The public is ready to move on to other things. Many Canadian women have voiced their opposition and hope that the ministers on the front bench and also all of the members of Parliament will support a woman's right to choose, and that they will not bring back a debate that has already been resolved. Canadians want to move forward and not go backwards, to achieve true gender equality in Canada.

Citizenship and Immigration June 19th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, it is sad to see the extent to which the Conservatives continue to attack the regions of Quebec.

Until recently, the people of my riding who come from other countries could go to the immigration office in Sherbrooke, but that office has fallen victim to the Conservatives' irresponsible cuts. The people of my riding will once again have to turn to the larger cities to get service.

My question is simple: why do the Conservatives keep cutting regional services?

Festivals in Brome—Missisquoi June 8th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, festival season is starting up across the country, and my riding is no exception. Many festivals will be held between now and September all around Brome—Missisquoi.

The Lake Champlain bike day is being held this Saturday. Country music lovers have the first-ever Bromont Country Blues festival to look forward to, and, to round out the month of June, we have the Bromont air show.

This year is also the centennial of the beautiful community of Pike River.

The Potton multicultural festival will be a fun-filled day for people of all ages. The 34th International Crossing of Lake Memphremagog will take place at the end of July and beginning of August.

Finally, the summer season will close with the Magog-Orford wine and harvest festival in early September.

I am inviting everyone to come to the Eastern Townships. Once people go there, they never want to leave.

Have a good summer and enjoy the festivals.

Questions on the Order Paper May 15th, 2012

With respect to the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line (PMPL) pipeline between Montréal and Portland: (a) what environmental assessments have been carried out on this project since 2002; (b) what plans are in place to modify or upgrade the pipeline; and (c) as concerns the emergency plan of the company that operates the pipeline, (i) does it comply with existing regulations to minimize the environmental risks resulting from accidents, (ii) has it been reviewed by the National Energy Board?

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

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague talked about pennies. I imagine he was talking about cuts regarding food safety, for instance. Pennies will likely be saved, but the health and safety of Canadians is being jeopardized.

Does my hon. colleague believe that a scandal like the one that happened in Walkerton a few years ago could happen again?

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to explain why this government cannot demonstrate accountability and transparency with respect to its omnibus Bill C-38.

In their 2011 election platform, the Conservatives promised not to reduce transfer payments to individuals or the provinces for essentials, such as health care, education and pensions.

Then, on June 7, 2011, the Prime Minister rose in the House of Commons and said, “Our government has been very clear. We will not cut pensions.”

Why are his statements so unacceptably inconsistent? I would like the member opposite to explain to me why the Conservatives misled Quebeckers and Canadians.

Agri-Food May 4th, 2012

Madam Speaker, the closure of the Frelighsburg experimental farm is a slap in the face to Quebec fruit farmers. The Eastern Townships region has many apple producers, grape growers and berry producers.

The Government of Quebec has promised to protect the experimental farms and the work done there, but the Conservative government is completely abandoning small-scale farmers and the regions of Quebec.

My question is simple: why are the Conservatives abandoning our farmers once again?

Criminal Code May 1st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, from the outset, I can say that the NDP will vote in favour of Bill C-394 at second reading, but that does not mean we are signing a blank cheque. We will study Bill C-394 at length in committee with the help of expert witnesses, and we will do a comprehensive clause-by-clause review in committee and make any necessary amendments.

I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-394, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (criminal organization recruitment). This private member's bill amends the Criminal Code in order to create a new offence related to organized crime: criminal organization recruitment.

There is currently a set of rules in the Criminal Code that prohibit criminal organizations: participation in activities of a criminal organization, commission of an offence for a criminal organization and instructing a person to commit an offence for a criminal organization. The bill being debated in the House today seeks to add a fourth offence to the Criminal Code: the recruitment of an individual to join a criminal organization, as defined by the Criminal Code, for the purpose of enhancing the criminal organization's ability to facilitate or commit a criminal offence.

With this bill, my hon. colleague hopes to put the brakes on recruitment by gangs. Gangs are criminal organizations that have operated in a number of Canadian provinces for decades. They exist in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. They are flourishing and must be condemned in no uncertain terms.

The configuration of gangs is changing, and more and more young people are joining these criminal groups. Gangs target young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have family problems. Gangs also target girls and have been observed recruiting in prisons. Consequently, the make-up of gangs can vary. Therefore, I congratulate my hon. colleague for introducing this bill, which is a first step in solving the problem of gangs.

Public safety is a priority for the official opposition, and we always take a great interest in analyzing bills that will amend the Criminal Code. However, although I acknowledge the legitimacy of the bill sponsored by my hon. colleague, I must admit that I find the penalty for this new offence to be inappropriate.

The bill sets out a five-year maximum sentence and a six-month mandatory minimum sentence for recruitment of a minor. The very principle of a mandatory minimum is open to criticism from a legal perspective because it deprives the judge of discretionary power, which is a basic tenet of criminal law. The penalty set out in this bill would, once again, encroach on the judge's sentencing powers.

Enhancing the legal arsenal for gang suppression is important, but it is not enough to solve the gang problem and minimize their impact on society. Prevention and suppression always go hand in hand, and we support programs designed to help young people in cities with a gang presence so that our society can enable everyone to develop in a positive way.

I think we should support work done in collaboration with various stakeholders to curb this situation. By way of explanation, I would like to quote Louis Lacroix, the project manager at the Centre of Expertise on Juvenile Crime and Behavioural Disorders and coordinator of the Programme de suivi intensif de Montréal:

Each of us was doing good work in our individual areas of expertise, but no one was successfully addressing the street gang problem. American studies show that coordinated approaches in the community are more successful than when we all work in isolation.

Various projects were therefore created in a number of provinces and the following stakeholders participated: the federal government through the National Crime Prevention Centre, schools, associations, the music industry, foundations, banks, municipalities, the legal community, correctional services and the police. It is important to put forward these initiatives, and it is up to the government to promote them.

It is also essential to be able to give front-line police officers financial and human resources. However, it seems that the current government has failed in this responsibility and has not taken into account the suggestions made by professionals who deal with gangs every day. This time, I would like to cite the comparative report on types of intervention used for youth at risk of joining a street gang, released in 2011.

[A] meeting of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, or the CACP, in 2009 produced the recommendation that a national anti-gang strategy be developed. The national strategy would ensure the “constant allocation of police resources” to deal effectively with the phenomenon....To date, this strategy has yet to be adopted.

One thing this shows is that the present government is refusing to fund municipal front-line officers, and this shows a glaring lack of vision on the part of the government when it comes to public safety.

The Conservatives may be showing the will to combat criminal organizations, including by making it an offence to recruit people into gangs, but they are not completely meeting the needs and expectations of our fellow Canadians.

In January 2011, the Conservatives announced a dramatic cut to the Youth Gang Prevention Fund. At the time, the NDP responded forcefully, pointing out the significant benefits of the prevention programs implemented under that fund. Thanks to the NDP, the Conservative government backpedalled a few months later and announced that the funding allocated to the program would now be permanent.

The Conservatives have also disappointed the provinces in the case of the allocation of funding under what was called the Police Officers Recruitment Fund for the provinces to recruit front-line police officers. The fund was created in 2008 and will end in 2013. Once again, the Conservatives have failed to keep their promise.

Canadians expect the members of this House to take reasonable measures in order to meet their expectations: to be able to live in crime-free, violence-free communities. This bill is one solution to the problem of individuals being recruited by gangs, but it is not the only solution. An approach that strikes a balance between punishment and prevention must always take precedence when it comes to public safety, and aiming for that balance is the way to ensure that Canadian society is more harmonious.