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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word is everyone.

NDP MP for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 31% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply October 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.

It is close to the end of the day and some people may think that everything has been said. However, I am still amazed to hear some of the things members are saying. It is not a very high level of debate when someone says that we should not sign a deal for the sake of having a deal.

That is a given. That is such a basic thing to say. Given all the jobs that are at stake and the scope of our trade partnerships with the United States, that goes without saying. Obviously, we need a deal that makes sense.

I am therefore pleased to know that our party supports the Conservative Party's motion, but I would like to ask my colleague a question. Is it not true that, under the Conservative government, we had to go to court on several occasions and that we won? Did that not make the forestry industry lose billions of dollars?

Business of Supply October 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague across the aisle.

The people of Longueuil—Saint-Hubert certainly know from reading the newspaper that panic is starting to set in. People are worried and are scratching their heads, wondering how we could have reached this point, in a society as structured as ours. The Liberals have been in power for a year now. When they first took office, they knew, just as all parties knew during the election campaign, that the softwood lumber deal was about to expire, so they have had a year as a sort of “buffer” to negotiate.

Why has so little been achieved after all this time? What happened at the end of 2015? Had there been any progress at all? I am trying to give my colleagues opposite an out. Had the Conservatives begun any work on this?

Business of Supply October 17th, 2016

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

It is very clear to us that the government of the day, the Conservative government, was asleep at the switch. Right now, we are in a buffer zone, and we are still grappling with the problem.

We are happy with today's motion. It is clear that the government must be told to step up and protect workers.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about setting up a loan program, a program to support businesses. I do not imagine he would be in favour of that. What forestry industry workers fear most is an American surtax. Can my colleague comment on that?

Canadian Heritage October 17th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage is starting to feel the heat. Last month, I reminded her that she still had some appointments to announce at the CRTC and CBC without further delay.

As CBC reported on the weekend, there is a backlog, CRTC hearings are being delayed, and creators are justifiably concerned. As we know, the minister is busy holding private consultations by invitation only. However, I would remind the House that this is an immediate and serious crisis.

Why go without such expertise?

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, we see that an attempt is being made to solve problems that really resonate with people. Many people considered these security issues to be important.

I have to say that that people talk about them constantly and for good reason. We all share this planet and we are grappling with complicated issues. Everyone is concerned about potential abuses. I am thinking first and foremost of indigenous people who, under Bill C-51, will come under suspicion if they oppose a pipeline route. We must resolve these issues.

What remains worrisome is that the Liberal election campaign identified a popular issue and promised the moon. We must watch the Liberals because they have a habit of signalling left and then turning right after an election.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very appropriate question.

I am not an expert in national security and police inspections, but I think that people back home are well aware of the value of wanting to oversee operations in real time and not after the fact, as my colleague says.

That being said, I would say to my colleague that his government repeatedly announced that it would make changes to Bill C-51. Now that is being pushed back. The government has decided to form a committee to oversee operations, but under Bill C-51, this adds to everyone's work because almost everyone is potentially under surveillance.

To use a very fine analogy: this work is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Bill C-51 essentially dumps a pile of hay on the bale. That is just great.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. She is quite right. She has put her finger on something that is a hallmark of this government.

If there is one thing this government has mastered, it is communications. It knows what it is doing. We must give credit where credit is due. The Liberal Party sure knows how to spin its sunny ways, its assurances that everything will be great, and so on.

The message is really consistent. It is a very solid, well-backed campaign. The media are thrilled, and everyone is feeding us the same news. It is all around us. Everything is great and the dark times are over.

The reality, however, is that all this comes with a severe case of “consultitis”, and it takes forever to see any action on any number of issues. Then again, during the summer, there were some announcements about fundamental decisions that parliamentarians should have been allowed to contribute to.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Prime Minister is being given the right to choose everything here and that the committee is full of empty promises. Honestly, in just one year, the Liberals have already severely disappointed Canadians in terms of the transparency and brilliance that were promised during the 2015 election campaign.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 30th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, in light of some of the reports we have heard on CBC over the past week, clearly, it seems appropriate to ask some questions. There were reports of incredible abuses committed against Canadian citizens who were literally sent to be tortured at the request of various Canadian agencies. That is precisely why I am pleased to rise here today to speak to Bill C-22 at second reading.

My good friend, the member for Victoria, has been handling this issue skilfully and intelligently. I will therefore be voting in favour of the bill at this stage so that it can be studied further in committee. As always, that is where the real work is done for the benefit of Quebeckers and Canadians.

We certainly commend the government's initiative in bringing this bill forward. Not only does it respond to a very clear call from various commissions of inquiry over the past several decades, but it also fulfills a promise made during the election campaign last fall regarding some recent issues.

This bill to create a national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians is crucial. The committee has to be formed not only with the greatest of care, but also with the necessary tools to be credible in the eyes of everyone, citizens and politicians alike, as well on the international stage. Half measures are not an option.

When it comes to credibility and legitimacy regarding national security, the truth is that the previous Conservative government missed the mark with Bill C-51 in the last Parliament. They went in exactly the wrong direction. A critical mass of national security experts were against that bill that was rammed through.

The NDP was the only party that firmly opposed this bill, and Canadians overwhelmingly rejected this intrusive approach that did nothing to balance national security with the protection of the individual freedoms of Quebeckers and Canadians.

Let us be clear: the Liberals have to keep their promise to get rid of the problematic provisions in Bill C-51. We will hold them to it. If we as parliamentarians, and the government MPs in particular, want to win back the trust of Quebeckers and Canadians, then this is definitely the right first step.

Honestly, the public's trust in our institutions should be among the primary objectives of Canada's security policy. Let me explain.

We live in a world that is constantly evolving and, unfortunately, as shown by the tragic events in Istanbul, London, New York, Paris, and Brussels, it is unpredictable and quite dangerous. The length of this list should be enough to attest to that.

We must ensure that our national security organizations, the RCMP, CSE, and CSIS, have the necessary tools and resources to do their job, but that they also do not operate without administrative transparency, so that Canadians can know that they are effective and that they protect Canadians' rights in the best possible way.

Make no mistake, the world in which we live is not a John le Carré or Ian Fleming novel set in the cold war. The duty to protect is particularly important, but entails a responsibility.

I agree, our national security organizations already have oversight bodies, but the truth is that these bodies operate somewhat haphazardly and do not have full and systematic access to sensitive information.

The mandate of oversight and review bodies is limited to examining the work of their target organization. They are unable to follow the thread that connects them to various government organizations.

I want to remind everyone that the annual budget for CSIS, the RCMP, and CSE is close to $4 billion. That responsibility, not to mention the significant amount of taxpayer money involved, justifies the creation of this committee of parliamentarians. I know that every MP represents his or her constituents admirably. That is the spirit in which the members of this parliamentary committee will be tasked with overseeing these operations.

To get back to my first point, the committee must be put together very carefully. All of our allies have parliamentary committees for international security, but they differ in their makeup and especially in their mandate. We can learn from both their experience and their flaws to ensure that our review committee is robust.

Quebeckers and Canadians want a watchdog with sharp teeth. The new committee must have full access to classified information, sufficient resources, and independence. Within reasonable limits, it must be able to share its findings with Canadians in an informative and transparent way.

Twelve years ago, an interim committee of parliamentarians on national security recommended that, should such a committee be created, it should have complete access to all of the information it needs.

Of course, the NDP will be working hard to ensure that this new committee has access to that information.

In that regard, Kent Roach and Craig Forcese, legal experts and authors of a book that was recently published on Bill C-51 and Canada's anti-terrorism laws, have said that without full access to classified information, the committee would not be able to accomplish its task. Mr. Forcese added that this is a good bill, albeit one with inevitable flaws, which likely reflect compromises designed to reconcile elements within the government. Bill C-22 is a good start, but even the best review mechanism in the world cannot make up for flawed legislation, such as Bill C-51. It is therefore important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. These are very clear statements from very competent individuals.

It seems obvious to me that the new parliamentary oversight committee must act as a sufficient counterbalance to restore Canadians' confidence and, more importantly, prevent the kind of abuse that we have seen or bring it to light.

On that note, in order to demonstrate why we need an oversight committee with adequate powers, I would like to draw the House's attention to fact that the excellent journalists at CBC/Radio-Canada managed to report that, from 2001 to 2004, Canadians were imprisoned and tortured in Syria with the complicity of Canadian authorities.

Following the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York, CSIS and the RCMP wanted to find al-Qaeda cells located within the country. In the end, that contributed to massive human rights violations and complicity in the torture of three individuals in Syria. CBC/Radio-Canada had to comb through some 18,000 documents to bring this story to light.

Let us be clear: complicity in torture is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for our authorities to use such an approach. While waiting for a proper parliamentary committee with the right tools to be set up, it is up to talented reporters, like the ones at CBC/Radio-Canada, to ensure that our national security institutions do not engage in this sort of abuse.

I think it is high time that we had this tool so that Quebeckers and Canadians can have confidence in the institutions responsible for protecting us.

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 30th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I certainly do not have the kind of practical experience with this that my colleague opposite has. Logically, the committee's mandate should be to oversee the activities of our security and intelligence agencies. This talk about looking for a needle in a haystack makes it clear that the last thing we need is more hay, yet this committee would have more hay to search through to find mistakes, would it not?

National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act September 30th, 2016

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to this subject on behalf of my Longueuil—Saint-Hubert constituents. International issues such as cultural diversity, global warming, and tax evasion are all serious issues that demand international co-operation. Now, unfortunately, that list includes terrorism and a host of other activities that call for close monitoring.

I am glad that our country will, I hope, follow suit by overseeing our intelligence services. I think that such a committee is essential.

The member opposite said that people need to have confidence and the Prime Minister will do this or that, but I would like to remind him that we are still waiting for changes to Bill C-51.

I would like him to comment on that because, during a committee meeting, a Toronto police officer made it clear that Bill C-51 is like looking for a needle in a haystack and we do not need more hay. I would like my colleague to comment on that.