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

Petitions May 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have here a petition signed by the people of Brome—Missisquoi. They are calling for the Senate to be abolished. This house of unelected representatives—who are not accountable to anyone, other than the party that appointed them—costs us $92 million a year.

The petition states that senators represent no one except the party that appointed them. It must be abolished.

Canada Post May 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, last December Canada Post announced that it was going to eliminate home mail delivery for millions of people. I have received thousands of letters and emails from unhappy people in my riding of Brome—Missisquoi, as well as several petitions.

On May 10, almost 200 people took to the streets of Farnham to support postal workers.

The people of Brome—Missisquoi are all telling me the same thing: they support the NDP, which is calling on the government to reject the plan to reduce services. Other avenues must be explored in order to modernize our crown corporation.

Canada Post, we want to keep our services.

Petitions May 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have here a petition that was signed by about 30 of my constituents. They want the government to stop giving $1.3 billion in subsidies to the oil industry every year. They want the Prime Minister to follow through on the commitment he made at the G20 in 2009 to phase out the subsidies.

The petitioners point out that the subsidies are incentives for energy sources that produce high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and discourage investments in green and renewable solutions.

They are asking the Prime Minister to stop giving billions of dollars to oil companies and start investing in a sustainable economy.

Petitions May 26th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, Brome—Missisquoi is a riding with many agricultural products. Some 40 people from Brome—Missisquoi signed this petition calling for the government to host a conference with the provincial and territorial agricultural ministers to come up with a Canada-wide strategy on local food.

The petition also calls on the government to develop a policy for purchasing locally grown food for all federal institutions. By promoting local food initiatives, we support Canadian farmers, we create jobs and we reduce the pollution associated with transportation.

Offshore Health and Safety Act May 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we have gotten used to the idea that our friends opposite want to deregulate everything, including the matter at hand. I would like to know why the Liberals did nothing to protect health and safety and the environment at offshore sites.

Offshore Health and Safety Act May 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question, and I thank him for the amazing work he does in his riding.

I do not know what it is like to be in their shoes, but I think our friends opposite rejected a very reasonable amendment because they are not used to collaborating with the provinces and territories. Only by working together with the provinces will we succeed in providing adequate protection.

Offshore Health and Safety Act May 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île. She does fantastic work for her riding.

To prevent other catastrophes like the one that happened in Lac-Mégantic, the government must make the rules, not let companies do it. That applies to oil pipelines and trains because that is not their goal. As we have already pointed out, their goal is to make a profit. We want to make sure that people and the environment are protected. For all of those reasons, the government has to make the rules, not leave it up to the companies.

Offshore Health and Safety Act May 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question. I want to point out that he does an excellent job in his riding.

To answer his question, I would say that this bill is a step in the right direction, but we could do even more to protect the public and the environment, which is very important. We proposed amendments. We want to pass this bill because it is a step in the right direction.

Offshore Health and Safety Act May 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-5. This bill addresses long-standing gaps in occupational health and safety standards in Atlantic offshore oil and gas development.

The bill amends the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord in order to enshrine the occupational health and safety regime in law. This is an important measure that the NDP has long been calling for. This is a very important bill for workers who do dangerous work in Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore.

Not so long ago, these activities took place in shallow water close to shore. Now, we have oil rigs hundreds of kilometres from shore. It takes two to three hours to get to the rigs and back by helicopter. The work is done in extreme weather. It goes without saying that it is dangerous. These brave workers do this work to support themselves and their families. However, this sector also benefits Atlantic Canada's economy and the federal government.

As usual, bills like this come about after tragedy strikes. In this case, I am referring to the Ocean Ranger drilling platform, which sank off the shore of Newfoundland in 1982, taking 84 workers with it.

The royal commission that followed criticized the industry for problems with safety training and being lax with inspections. People believed that the government had implemented regulations to reduce risk. However, the offshore was never subject to provincial safety regulations.

There is a clear link between this tragedy and the one that occurred recently in Lac-Mégantic.

Prioritizing profit, the government let a company self-regulate. That decision led to tragedy, and the government betrayed the people's trust yet again.

Let us not forget the Deepwater Horizon. In 2010, neglect resulted in the death of 11 workers and the worst offshore oil spill in history. The Gulf of Mexico is still suffering the consequences of that incident.

In other words, we cannot pretend that will never happen again. The government must make laws. The NDP supports the federal-provincial collaboration that resulted in Bill C-5.

Bill C-5 is the outcome of over a decade of negotiation that began in 2001 between the federal government and the governments of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, I am disappointed that the Conservative government does not work with the provincial and territorial governments on other issues often enough. I am also disappointed that my colleagues opposite still seem to cling to a laissez-faire ideology that benefits corporations but puts our communities and the environment at risk.

Regulation in the offshore oil industry focuses on performance. In other words, the regulatory body drafts a plan and sets safety objectives, and companies decide how to go about achieving those objectives.

In contrast, the regulatory regime set out in Bill C-5 dictates both the standards and the means to achieve them. Compliance is mandatory. That is why I support this bill.

The New Democrats have been calling for this kind of power for years. However, the bill does not act on recommendation 29 of the Honourable Robert Wells' offshore helicopter safety inquiry. That inquiry was held after a helicopter crash that, as we all know, killed 17 workers.

The Wells report contained a number of recommendations, including the creation of an independent safety regulator. Bill C-5 does not provide for the creation of an independent and stand-alone safety regulator, nor does it provide for autonomous safety divisions within the petroleum boards.

It is disappointing that the Government of Canada did not act on this report even though Newfoundland, Justice Wells, the unions concerned, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour and many other stakeholders concerned about the offshore health and safety regime urged it to do so.

Thus, the NDP's efforts to ensure that the bill is reviewed in five years were rejected by the government at committee stage. An NDP federal government would work with the provinces to establish these measures in order to further strengthen the health and safety regime for Atlantic offshore workers.

Nevertheless, we will support Bill C-5 because it should have been passed a long time ago and it is an important victory for the labour movement. The NDP has been calling for a legislated offshore safety regime for years. Bill C-5 protects offshore workers at least as well as onshore workers. It also protects employees' right to refuse to work in dangerous conditions and to be protected from reprisals.

This bill is timely. In fact, Shell and BP are exploring along the Nova Scotia coast for the first time since the Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010. However, it is unfortunate that the federal government prevented the implementation of even better protection for worker safety by not creating a stand-alone safety regulator. The NDP is determined to work with the provinces to that end.

Petitions May 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition signed by about 50 of my constituents calling on the government to repeal the amendments to the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

As a result of these amendments, 98% of lakes and rivers are no longer protected. Brome—Missisquoi is a riding where outdoor tourism is flourishing, and our residents are proud of their 50 lakes and rivers, which are among the most beautiful in Canada.

These petitioners want our lakes and rivers to be protected from reckless development and are joining those Canadians who have already signed this petition.