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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

Offshore Health and Safety Act March 27th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Gatineau for giving a passionate, persuasive speech, as always. I would like to congratulate her for fiercely defending her constituents while remaining humble.

Why did the previous Liberal government and the current Conservative government not implement a clearer, more transparent governance model?

March 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, over the past few decades, society has gone through some serious economic and social upheaval. We are seeing the emergence of new types of families. There is a growing number of single parent and blended families.

According to the most recent census of 2006, there were 1,267,000 families in Quebec. Of that number, one-third were single parent families. They now represent a little more than a quarter of all families. That is the highest percentage ever recorded. We must take this new reality into account.

That is why I am speaking to Bill C-560, which amends the Divorce Act to replace the concept of custody orders with that of parenting orders. This bill instructs judges to apply the principle of equal parenting when making a parenting order.

This is not the first time that this bill has come before the House. It is similar to Bill C-422 from the last Parliament, in 2010. As with its predecessor, I have some reservations about Bill C-560.

When it comes to divorce, we must focus the debate on the real issue and that is the best interests of the child. I fear that is not the case with Bill C-560. It shifts the emphasis from the children to the rights of the parents.

In June 2010, in the context of its submission on the issue, the Canadian Bar Association said:

...any discussion of “parental rights” is misguided when resolving arrangements for children. The sole focus must be what is best for children.

When a parent before the law must put the interests of the child first, he or she is more inclined to put aside personal interests and make compromises. What is more, under the existing legislation, there is already the option of shared custody, if that is in the best interests of the child.

By amending the existing law, as Bill C-560 proposes, I wonder if we are not encouraging families to engage in lengthy and costly legal battles that will have an adverse affect on the child and the parents.

I would like my esteemed colleagues across the way to tell me whether this bill will give rise to an increased number of more aggressive litigation cases.

I fear that the consequences of Bill C-560 will put more emotional and financial pressure on parents and children who are already vulnerable. Combine that with the fact that some jurisdictions provide very little legal or financial aid for family matters, and we see the limits of this bill. The Canadian Bar Association shares these same concerns.

Parents make decisions before going to court, and those decisions will be better informed if they have their community's support. Parental equality would be more appropriate if those communities had more funding for parental education and had better legal services.

The current legislation always takes these variables into consideration, while keeping the best interests of the child in mind. The child must remain the primary principle in family law in Canada.

Here is how Bill C-560 changes this principle. It tries to create a presumption of equal shared parenting by ignoring the best interests of the child. However, shared custody would not be suitable for all family situations. In fact, many factors need to be taken into account to determine how the child's interests would be best served.

In other words, one size does not fit all. Each child's situation is unique, with different variables. Children grow up in different communities with dynamics that are not always the same. Judges must assess each case separately.

The NDP supports the principles in certain provisions of Bill C-560 concerning the importance of consultation, mediation and arbitration, provided that all this is done in the best interests of the child.

However this bill does not take that into account. I therefore find that this bill is inadequate and, unfortunately, I cannot support it.

Energy Safety and Security Act March 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking my Liberal colleague for his speech.

Does he know that Norway is an offshore oil and gas development leader, and that its unlimited absolute liability regime does not seem to have paralyzed its industry at all?

Canada Post March 25th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago, Canada Post announced that the town of Farnham would lose most of its door-to-door delivery services. I met with Brome—Missisquoi's mail carriers and mayors to discuss the situation. I was also contacted by over 500 very concerned citizens.

Canada must not become the only G7 country that no longer offers home mail delivery. Why not look at modernizing Canada Post's services? Why not bring banking and financial services to Canada Post? This approach has proven to be successful in Europe.

I urge the government to think about this since my colleagues and I intend to continue fighting this battle as long as Canada Post refuses to reconsider its decision.

Privilege March 4th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Welland for his speech, which was passionate as usual. He is always so convincing.

I have an anecdote for him. When you drive 130 kilometres per hour and are caught by police because they have radar, can you apologize to the police?

There is a culture of impunity, an attitude of “I can do anything I want”, “I can say anything I want”, and “all I have to do is apologize”.

I would like my colleague to explain this culture of impunity that exists among Conservative members. How does this manifest itself in other areas?

Petitions March 3rd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have here a petition from my constituents about employment insurance reform. They pay into this insurance all of their lives. It was originally created to support our workforce. Now, six out of every 10 workers are ineligible for benefits. The government is further restricting access to benefits. The recent changes will hurt families, disrupt regional economies and drive wages down. The signatories are calling for the employment insurance changes to be repealed.

The Environment February 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary has not answered the questions. He did not answer the first one, which was addressed to him or the minister, or the second, and definitely not the third. I will repeat the last one.

When I questioned the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, he said that nothing similar to Bill C-481 exists. He said that there is no clear requirement that any proposed legislation must undergo a strategic environmental assessment. There is therefore no cost, no red tape, no burden for Canadians and no additional taxes.

In light of that, can the members opposite tell me if they will support my bill, Bill C-481, which puts environmental sustainability at the heart of the House of Commons' decision-making process? After all, what good is money if we have no planet?

The Environment February 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my first question is for the Minister of the Environment and his colleagues.

On page 323 of the latest budget, we find:

...new mining and related processing activity...can be associated with a variety of environmental impacts... and...could have an impact on the goals of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

I would like to know what impact these activities will have on the goals of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and what the government plans to do to ensure that the goals of the federal strategy are achieved.

My second question concerns the need to create sustainable development policies, which has become a political imperative. Even our colleagues opposite are starting to admit that we have to do something about this.

I would like to quote the Conservative member for Kitchener—Waterloo, who, on January 6, said the following on CBC radio:

We are seeing the effects, the impacts of climate change. With climate change comes extreme weather events. We saw that through the floods in southern Alberta, we're now seeing that with the ice storms in Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto...

Does the parliamentary secretary agree? Does he believe that climate change causes extreme weather that affects Canadians?

When I questioned the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, he said that nothing similar to Bill C-481 exists. He said that there is no clear requirement that any proposed legislation must undergo a strategic environmental assessment. As for regulatory impact analysis, it applies only to regulations, not bills.

In light of that, can the members opposite tell me if they will support my bill, Bill C-481, which puts environmental sustainability at the heart of the House of Commons' decision-making process?

Business of Supply February 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I would like to know why Marc Mayrand, the Chief Electoral Officer, went so far as to say that as a result of the reforms in this bill, he can no longer speak about democracy in this country.

An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act (duty to examine) February 14th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues who spoke to my bill, and I thank in advance all those who will vote for it.

Bill C-481 is certainly a modest bill, but it represents an important step in putting sustainable development at the heart of the debates in the House of Commons.

Years ago I realized there was an urgent need for action on the environment. A growing number of Canadians are realizing it as well. The need to develop sustainable development policies has become a political imperative. Even our colleagues opposite are beginning to admit that we must take action.

In that regard, allow me to quote the Conservative member for Kitchener—Waterloo, who, on January 6, said the following on CBC Radio:

We are seeing the effects, the impacts of climate change. With climate change comes extreme weather events. We saw that through the floods in southern Alberta, we’re now seeing that with the ice storms in Kitchener—Waterloo and Toronto.

Those are words of wisdom that point to the urgent need to take action.

In Quebec alone, the compensation paid by insurance companies as a result of storms and flooding has increased by 25% since 2001. Inaction is getting expensive, but despite the evidence, there are no measures in the most recent budget to address climate change.

However, the Conservatives unanimously voted to bring in federal sustainable development legislation that would ensure that all departments work together to make Canada a leader in this area.

My Bill C-481 would amend this law, which was passed unanimously by the Conservative members who are still sitting here today and who will soon vote on my bill. Bill C-481 seeks to ensure that all future acts and regulations comply with the principles of the Federal Sustainable Development Act. However, the Conservative members told me that there are already regulations in place that do the same thing as Bill C-481.

When I asked the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development about it, he replied that nothing similar to this bill already exists. There is no clear requirement that any proposed legislation must undergo a strategic environmental assessment. As for regulatory impact analysis, it applies only to regulations, not bills.

Many others ask me whether the Minister of Justice has the authority to verify whether a bill is consistent with the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The Department of Justice is already obliged to review all the bills and regulations that are submitted. Bill C-481 simply links this process with what has already been created by the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

As usual, the departments will provide the Minister of Justice the information he needs for making a decision. If he is missing information, he just has to pick up the phone and consult the great experts that our government has hired in the past, such as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

In closing, my bill seeks to remind us that Canadians want sustainable development to be included in the decision-making of their elected representatives. Including sustainable development at the heart of all federal policies is the best way to make Canada more green and more prosperous. This is urgent and I will say it again. We only have one Earth and we must protect it. Pollution knows no boundaries.