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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Beauport—Limoilou (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Life Means Life Act June 18th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Charlottetown for his speech. It is a rather worrisome debate. My colleague, the member for Gatineau, pointed out how this is a very election-minded bill. I would like to get back to the facts and to the problems experienced in some countries. Obviously, our neighbours to the south, the Americans, are stuck managing a huge problem with violence in their prison system. I want to share a quote from the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder. He said:

Statistics have shown—and all of us have seen—that high incarceration rates and longer-than-necessary prison terms have not played a significant role in materially improving public safety, reducing crime or strengthening communities.

It is quite clear that the United States is currently trying to backtrack on these exceptionally long and harsh sentences because they do not fix the problem and they create a lot of social problems. That is not to mention the high cost of the prison system and the American justice system.

Could my colleague give us other examples from around the world, or even more American examples, of bad measures that the Conservatives are trying to force on us?

Life Means Life Act June 18th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Gatineau for her remarks. I also thank her for kindly acting as my mentor during the months I spent on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. It was very enlightening and I learned a lot from her.

The Conservatives have mastered the art of breaking down open doors. We have said it repeatedly and furthermore, they heard many first-hand witnesses who said that the situation they were trying to address in this bill had never come up.

The other argument they are using to try to convince us—and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice referred to it—is to follow the example of other democracies that have fallen into the same ruts and made the same kind of mistake. We should point out that the United States, a country that has gone a long way down this road, condemning dangerous criminals to prison with no hope of parole, is now reviewing this practice, because it has a lot of awful consequences. They did not mention the three countries—France, Germany and Italy—where provisions of this kind were declared unconstitutional.

I would like my colleague to tell us about the lessons we can learn from other countries that have tried this unfortunate experiment, which our government wants to impose on us.

Petitions June 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present to the House a petition on respect for the rights of small family farmers to preserve, exchange and use seeds.

This petition was signed by dozens, perhaps hundreds of people because this is obviously a major component of humanity's heritage, and it is under threat, as described in this petition.

The people who signed this petition care about preserving this traditional practice.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for his question

There is an aspect of the bill that I forgot to mention in my speech, but I will not mention it now.

There is something very troubling about the Liberals, and there is no denying it. When we studied the anti-terrorism bill, Bill C-51, the Liberals said that they did not agree with the bill, but that they would vote for it, and once they took power—which is highly unlikely—they would change things.

What is very troubling is that they are doing the same thing with Bill S-7, despite the opinion of the majority of witnesses, who pointed out many problems with different parts of the bill. Those problems make it almost impossible to adopt the bill in its current form, or without significant amendments. In the end, we would find ourselves with a bill that is both counterproductive and unsatisfactory. Thus, the Liberal approach is really pointless. It is a dead end.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my colleague seems to be confused. Is any type of murder legal in Canada? That is the underlying question.

When a term like “barbaric” is used to describe cultural practices, we are basically pointing a finger at a segment of the population, subjecting them to scrutiny and disgracing them. That could polarize our society, which is a very dangerous thing to do. In many countries around the world, this type of situation opens the door to violence against minorities and abuse of power.

Frankly, as a Canadian, that is the type of thing I never want to see happen in our beautiful country.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, to begin, and given that this bill is subject to the latest in a long line of time allocation motions, I will say that it is my great pleasure to share my speaking time with my very esteemed colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. I know that she will speak intelligently and will represent her constituents very well.

For a bill that is going to cause all sorts of disruptions and, most importantly, result in absolutely unbelievable duplication, it is scandalous that, even if we could not persuade our Conservative colleagues, we do not have enough time to alert the Canadian public as a whole to the dangers associated with the undercurrents of racism, intolerance, extreme rhetoric and incoherence that are the hallmark of this government when it tries to deal with genuine and serious problems to which we need to find an answer. That answer must not amount to legal and legislative fiddling that unfortunately is likely to lead to very harmful consequences, especially for the victims, as we told this government at every stage of this bill, and as a majority of the witnesses said at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. Unfortunately, with its electioneering, shamefully partisan and frankly vote-buying approach, the government is trying to use the legislative tools that are entirely under its control to buy its re-election on the backs of hundreds if not thousands of victims all across Canada.

This is truly depressing. No woman in this country should have to suffer violence or the kind of life that forced or early marriage imposes. In fact, this country we are so proud of, the country willed to us by our ancestors, has worked very hard to promote equality of status between men and women. Introducing this bill, which is quite simply a mess, if we go by the title, is no way to preserve that heritage. I will take the liberty of reading the short title we know so well by now, which gives the impression we are returning to ancient times, to the biblical times of the Old Testament: Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act. Words are our chief tool, as legislators, for taking action in our society and ensuring that our constituents live in the best possible conditions. The government, however, is tossing around loaded terms whose effect is to marginalize a large segment of our population. When shame is heaped on their head by the opposition, they should be ashamed. The opposition was not being unfair; quite the contrary. In the work done in committee, we were very reasonable and proposed only two amendments. In spite of the opinion of the large majority of all 24 witnesses, the government refused even to seriously consider thinking about the two amendments presented by the New Democratic Party.

Despite this sensationalism, the problem has not been resolved—quite the opposite. The minister finally made a proposal through the unelected, illegitimate Senate. Nonetheless, the minister should have committed to holding full and serious consultations on the matter.

One of the concerns expressed by all the witnesses was that in reality, the government is legislating about something we do not fully understand. We do not know the full extent of this phenomenon and there are no reliable statistics. The government is legislating blind and repeating provisions that already exist in the Criminal Code. In other words, it is simply reiterating and repeating legal provisions that prohibit forced marriages and polygamy, among other things. We therefore find ourselves watching the government engage in a huge marketing campaign to show how tough it can be on those who abuse the most vulnerable in our society. However, in reality, those who are really exploiting these oppressed people and victims of forced marriage are the Conservatives when they introduce this type of bill.

In fact, the thing that infuriates me is that this is a recent stunt by the Conservatives. Very modestly, in four years in the House, I have been a member of four different committees. I have seen every trick the Conservatives throw at us to push their agenda through. A very recent practice that is rather odd is that when members from the opposition parties propose amendments in committee, the Conservatives have speaking notes prepared ahead of time to justify their unjustifiable positions.

Having experienced that during the study on Bill C-59, the budget implementation bill, I have to say that we proposed a very reasonable number of amendments. There were times when the governing party's justifications for rejecting amendments bordered on ludicrous. Our amendments were aligned with the concerns and requests we heard from witnesses during the committee's work.

For the benefit of all members of the House, I would like to remind everyone of what the vast majority of the 24 witnesses who spoke to this bill said. They—and this includes pro-Conservative witnesses—expressed serious reservations about the short title, for one thing. It is an insult that goes back to antiquity. It would have been more appropriate in the days of the Romans and the Greeks than it is today. The Conservatives also had reservations about the minimum age of consent, the definition of polygamy, penalties for minors and women and issues related to the defence of provocation.

There comes a time when, faced with a vast majority of opinions on a great many aspects of a bill, one makes concessions and tries to find a way to agree on certain aspects to make it work.

I think that this tired and dying government has reached its limit. The Conservatives are so keen on proving their legitimacy that they are refusing to listen to any opinion that differs from their speeches, which have been pre-formatted by the advisors in short pants in the Prime Minister's Office. These advisors are imposing opinions on people who, if they did not belong to the Conservative Party, would likely be able to express themselves in a very reasonable way. However, they gave up all of their freedom, and apparently their duty to their constituents as well, in order to pander to voters. At election time, they want to be able to tell people to look at how they solved the problems of barbaric cultural practices that are becoming increasingly common in Canada because of immigration and are threatening our way of life.

That is really shameful, and that is why all of my NDP colleagues and I will be voting against this bill.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am obviously not satisfied with my colleague’s answer.

It is rather disturbing to see him impugning our motives instead of being open to a dialogue to protect victims. The phenomenon exists. And yet, instead of preventing injustice, the government insists on entrenching it, which is a problem. Furthermore, and let us not kid ourselves, the bill’s approach reeks of racism, which quite frankly is very troubling.

I would like to know how the government is going to manage deporting unfortunate victims of situations that are unacceptable in our society.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

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

As is now Conservative tradition, every NDP amendment, and there were only two in this case, were defeated during consideration of the bill by the committee in question. We have very serious concerns about the bill, including the fact that the unfortunate victims of forced or polygamous marriages could be deported from Canada and be victimized yet again. That is one of the unintended consequences of this bill.

I would like to know whether my colleague is open to considering amendments to prevent the deportation of women who unfortunately were victimized by their particular situation.

Health June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the air pollution problem in Limoilou is far from being resolved. An access to information request has revealed that the Minister of the Environment did not see fit to verify whether Quebec Stevedoring had to submit a report to the National Pollutant Release Inventory. Nothing was done before 2014, even though this has been a problem since 1979 and has been in the media since 2012.

Can the minister finally tell us whether Quebec Stevedoring will have to report its dust emissions to the National Pollutant Release Inventory?

Civic Engagement June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on June 11, the Comité de vigilance des activités portuaires at the Port of Quebec had a look back on its second year of activity. Although it was disappointing that port users did not attend the committee meetings, it is important to note the remarkable involvement of the committee members, who give up many hours of their personal time.

Over the past four years, I have seen that many people are trying to understand the issues affecting them. It takes a lot of dedication to be a member of an advisory board or decision-making body. I have witnessed these efforts first-hand, whether we are talking about a housing roundtable, the decision-making board of a credit union or a citizen-driven rail traffic monitoring initiative. Hundreds of people are working to better understand their environment and are showing that they want to be full-fledged participants in their community.

Civic engagement contributes a great deal to our society. I would like to pay tribute to these people, who refuse to resign themselves to their situation and work every day to contribute to the common good.