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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

March 1st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, on November 4, I received a contradictory response from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety. I hope that this evening the minister will enlighten us as to his position. The fact that this bill was passed on February 15 in this House and the government trumpeted victory at the conclusion of that vote in no way detracts from the scope of this evening’s adjournment proceedings. The legislative process of Bill C-19 is following its course.

My question dealt with the preservation of the firearms registry data. I must admit that I am quite puzzled by this government’s attitude toward crime. On the one hand it adopts a repressive approach, and on the other it is in the process of destroying an effective tool for police officers. This is a tool to control the use of long guns in Canada and to track the owners of such weapons.

It also curbs the trafficking of illegal weapons and serves to prevent the use of firearms in violent crimes against vulnerable persons such as female victims of domestic violence. Ending the registry is going to make things worse, and it runs counter to the effective combatting of crime. In reality, it is going to increase the number of victims in this country. For all these reasons I deplore this initiative of the government, who wants not only to abolish the firearms registry but to destroy the data collected, and who is categorically refusing to transfer it to the provinces, including Quebec, which is holding out its hand to the federal government.

This province is prepared to take over and manage this data. All Canadians and Quebeckers still remember the slaughter at the École polytechnique, the 22nd anniversary of which was marked last December. That blow to the heart of everyone argues in favour of transferring the data to Quebec. The federal government’s objection to proceeding with this transfer is inconsistent with an effective battle against crime.

Given the lack of co-operation between the federal government and Quebec, the provincial minister of public safety announced in a press release on December 13, 2011, that, if Bill C-19 were passed, he would go to court to recover the data from the registration certificates of non-restricted firearms owned by Quebeckers, data that are found in the Canadian firearms registry.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety said that the long gun registry does nothing to prevent criminals from obtaining firearms. I would like to challenge that statement. Certainly, criminals will always find backdoor methods of obtaining weapons, but the registry nevertheless constitutes an effective safeguard. Thanks to this registry, certain licence holders who presented real risk to public safety were deprived of the use of their firearms. Crimes were thus prevented. The registry protects both the public and police officers, and prevents them from becoming victims.

Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act February 29th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very interesting speech about Panama. I understand that it is clearly a tax haven. Even Mr. Sarkozy, the French president, recognizes that it is a tax haven. I also understand that workers' rights there are not strictly enforced.

I would like my colleague to comment on two ideas. First, does sustainable development have a place in this agreement? And what is responsible investment?

Canada Labour Code February 17th, 2012

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-315, which seeks to amend the Canada Labour Code in order to put an end to a linguistic inconsistency in Quebec.

The bill, which was introduced by the hon. member for Trois-Rivières, is in line with what various professional organizations and francophone workers in Quebec are saying. Its purpose is to harmonize the language requirements that apply to federal businesses operating in Quebec with those in force in that province.

I would like to voice my unconditional support for this bill and explain why it should be passed by this House.

This bill will bring an end to a pattern that has been observed in federal businesses operating in Quebec, where francophone workers encounter language difficulties in their workplaces. Approximately 200,000 people are unable to take advantage of the provincial language requirements set out in the Charter of the French Language. They are therefore unable to use their mother tongue at work or are able to use it only sparingly. The Conseil du patronat du Québec found that the fact that employees are unable to use French in the workplace is a problem that affects the work environment. Now that it is aware of the problem, this year, the organization plans to hold a campaign to encourage these companies in Quebec to use French more often in their business activities.

It is essential to allow the members of the linguistic majority of a province to express themselves in their mother tongue. In Quebec, French is the predominant language, and francophone employees of federal businesses operating in Quebec have the right to use their mother tongue in the workplace. This bill will strengthen that right. The language rights of the other provinces have already been established, and I think it is important for Quebec to be able to take advantage of this harmonization with provincial language requirements.

I would like to add that this House adopted the following motion on November 27, 2006:

That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada.

Allowing workers in federal businesses to speak French in their Quebec workplaces would help with Quebec's ongoing integration into Canada and would clearly illustrate the principle of asymmetrical federalism that is so dear to the official opposition.

I would like to quote the hon. member who introduced Bill C-315. His words provide a good summary of the spirit of this bill:

...[that] this bill is not dogmatic, but that it was designed to reflect a majority of Quebeckers and to ensure that they feel acknowledged at home in Quebec and also within the Canadian federation.

It has been said that this bill is contradictory. It is not. This is a pragmatic bill that strengthens the language rights of francophone workers—the linguistic majority in Quebec—while preserving the language rights of the province's linguistic minority, through clause 8.2 of the bill.

An exception is set out in clause 8.1 in order to respond to the social and economic reality of these federal businesses. In this case, everyone wins because Bill C-315 in no way infringes on the rights of the anglophone minority in Quebec.

I would like to add that this bill also authorizes employees to use a language other than French, on the condition that it not take precedence over French.

In closing, I would like to quote what the Minister of Labour had to say during question period on February 16, 2012.

Mr. Speaker, French is an integral part of our history, our identity, our daily lives, and it is one of the founding languages of Canada. Our government is committed to promoting and protecting the French language in Canada.

The solution is for the government to support this bill and vote in favour of it.

National Strategy for Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) Act February 15th, 2012

Madam Speaker, it is with gravity that I am taking part in the second reading debate of Bill C-280, introduced by the hon. member for Etobicoke North.

MS patients must face many obstacles in their daily lives. These include physical obstacles that affect their mobility and financial obstacles that force them to make choices that can be difficult.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease whose causes are still not well understood. It attacks the central nervous system, particularly the brain, the optic nerves and the spinal cord. The symptoms of the disease vary and they affect between 55,000 and 75,000 Canadians. Incidentally, Canada is one of the countries most affected by this disease.

The wording of the bill stresses the fact that every year 400 Canadians die from MS. Moreover, the suicide rate among MS patients is seven times higher than in the general population. Therefore, we have a responsibility to help these people.

Multiple sclerosis, which has been considered an autoimmune disease, became the subject of a new medical theory put forth in 2009 by Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni. According to him, poor blood circulation in the neck veins has an impact on neurons, which triggers MS symptoms. In other words, multiple sclerosis was no longer treated as a disease but, rather as a symptom of a condition that this doctor called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI.

This study has generated hope among many people living with MS, as well as comments from health care professionals. Many additional studies were conducted to establish a link between blood circulation in the neck veins and multiple sclerosis, through a medical procedure called angioplasty.

However, the results remain inconclusive. Some patients saw their condition improve to the point where their MS symptoms diminished by 50% to 80%. However, in the case of other patients, that procedure did not change anything. Some private clinics all over the world, including in Bulgaria, Poland and the United States, now offer that medical service. In fact, a number of Canadians and Quebeckers affected by MS have travelled to these countries to have the operation, in the hope of improving their health.

Despite the merits of this bill, I want to share some reservations with the House. Scientific studies accepted by the entire international medical community—in order to examine the effectiveness of this treatment and corroborate Dr. Zamboni's theory—might be the first step before the treatment is generalized.

This bill to establish a national strategy for CCSVI does make provisions for further research.

Nevertheless, I want to draw the attention of my colleagues to other measures that could accompany this strategy, namely: integration of the Canadian Institute for Health Information's Canadian multiple sclerosis monitoring system into this strategy, since the purpose of this system is to provide medical follow-up to people with this disease; consideration of the reduced mobility of people with MS in order to facilitate their daily lives and, therefore, the renovation of public buildings to make them wheelchair accessible; implementation of financial assistance for these people in order to help them adapt their homes to their needs as they change with the disease; revision of the employment insurance sickness benefits program, both for people with the disease and for caregivers; implementation of refundable tax credits for those same people; and, finally, implementation of an awareness campaign on the importance of sports for people with multiple sclerosis.

On that last point, the Université de Sherbrooke offers a program for persons with MS. This program began in 1992 and has changed and been incorporated into another program: the adapted physical education and sports program for persons with physical disabilities. The sports component adopted by the university to help improve the physical condition of people with MS is unique and serves as a model for professionals and students from European countries.

As the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry said, society as a whole has to fight against multiple sclerosis. Our Canadian researchers have to advance the science and find a cure for this terrible disease. Our governments have to commit to supporting research and also to supporting people with MS in their quest for a healthy life. In closing, I support this bill, which represents progress in the fight against multiple sclerosis.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency February 2nd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, Quebec ice wines are among the best in the world, but they are being neglected by this government. In drafting new regulations on ice wine, the Conservative government missed an excellent opportunity to support our small businesses and defend Quebec vintners. We need to protect their ability to sell this high-quality product here and around the globe.

Will the minister commit to finding a long-term solution to support and promote Quebec ice wines?

Catherine Lamontagne November 30th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, today, I would like to congratulate a Quebecker in my riding who is one of the 2011 recipients of the Activité nationale de reconnaissance de la participation citoyenne award, a citizenship award given out by the Government of Quebec. Catherine Lamontagne from the Forum Jeunesse Montérégie Est was given the award for her dynamic devotion to the community of Bromont. She is the chair of the Bromont family advisory committee and she helped to set up its Carrefour familial or family centre, which provides drop-in daycare services and networking activities for young families in the area. Through Ms. Lamontagne's leadership, Bromont's Carrefour familial received the 2011 municipal and family action award in recognition of the various services it provides.

Congratulations to this young Quebecker who is helping families in her community.

Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act November 28th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Saint-Lambert has aptly described the many negative repercussions of Bill C-18.

In particular, farmers will be subject to greater risks and uncertainty. Small farms will be impoverished. People on family farms will have to work harder in order to survive. In addition, consumers will pay more for food and the quality of wheat will be lower.

I would like my colleague from Saint-Lambert to explain why the cost of food will increase and the quality of wheat will decrease.

Improving Trade Within Canada Act November 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, does my colleague think that there is no longer such a thing as “small is beautiful”?

With respect to farmers, will Bill C-14 directly threaten small producers and small specialized markets which, if I understand correctly, will now have a harder time setting themselves apart? This bill will give more powers to people who do not view prioritizing local markets and agri-food identity favourably.

In my riding, there are vineyards and small-fruit farmers who produce apples, blueberries, pears, raspberries, etc. They will no longer be able to sell their products effectively. Also, if we penalize the markets, SMEs will have fewer chances to obtain contracts to provide goods and services, since priority could no longer be given to local businesses. I would like to ask my colleague whether this will do more harm than good for farmers and SMEs.

Copyright Act November 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I can say that arts and culture are very important in my riding and across the country.

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists estimates that the arts and culture industries in Canada contribute $85 billion a year to our economy, which represents 7.4% of Canada's GNI. They support some 1.1 million jobs, or about 6% of the Canadian labour force. These industries and the jobs that depend on them can only survive in an environment where intellectual property is protected.

I could go on to say that many cities and towns make their living in the arts sector.

Copyright Act November 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.

Income is a right. Artists have the right to be fairly compensated for their work and effort. If they receive fair compensation, they will be encouraged to create. It is a cycle. This bill will deprive artists of millions of dollars in income, as I have already said, will erode their market.

The long, complex list of exceptions, which does not recognize the rights of creators, must be removed. These exceptions create new means for consumers to access protected content without also creating new ways to compensate creators for the use of their work.