House of Commons photo

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

The Environment May 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the Port of Trois-Rivières must submit its expansion proposal to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency for assessment, but the Port of Québec will be conducting its own assessment of a similar project using its own criteria.

The consequences of expanding the port facilities are a source of concern for residents who spend their time washing patios and windows. Mario Girard would like the work to get under way quickly.

Will the people of Quebec City have the right to a real public, independent assessment process, or is this a done deal?

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I would like to pick his brain, seeing as he is a lawyer.

I would like to draw his attention to division 20 of the budget implementation bill. It creates completely new rules despite the Public Service Labour Relations Act. Authorized experts have indicated that there may be a risk of violating the Canadian Constitution, not to mention disrupting free and healthy negotiation.

As for division 18, which is about the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act, the Canadian Press reported that experts said this was rewriting history, plain and simple, and that they were very uncomfortable with the precedents this would set, considering that the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act is retroactive to the day it was introduced.

How comfortable is my lawyer colleague with this kind of legal approach?

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for his question, or rather his comment, because in the end he did not really ask a question.

I will let the member—like his leader, the member for Papineau—race with the Conservatives to put as much money as possible in the pockets of the wealthy.

That said, I will help him nonetheless. I have his email address and I will send him a lovely table that shows the impact of the decisions made by the Chrétien and Martin governments on the budgets of all the Canadian provinces. Paul Martin was minister of finance at the time. We clearly see the line drop off sharply and then all the provinces post huge operating deficits. It was really difficult for the provinces to recover.

In those days, the PQ government in Quebec had negotiated terrible sacrifices from Quebeckers. We have not recovered from the shortfall of funds, especially in the Quebec health system.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

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

I am going to point out some good things about the budget implementation bill. We are pleased that the government has borrowed ideas. It did not steal them; there is no copyright on our ideas. I would like to congratulate the Conservative government for borrowing our idea of lowering taxes for small business and also keeping the accelerated capital cost allowance for small business. I would like to thank the government.

Unfortunately, as is usually the case—and the member will acknowledge it—these worthwhile measures that we could have supported on a stand-alone basis are buried in a host of other measures, including the theft of public servants' right to negotiate sick leave. That is shameful. It is clearly a breach of a constitutional right. This government will lose in court once again before losing for the last time this fall on October 19.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

): Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for generously sharing his precious speaking time with me.

As my Nova Scotian colleague pointed out so well, we are debating a very large omnibus bill, even though it is smaller than its predecessors. This morning, sadly, the Conservative government once again imposed closure through a time allocation motion in order to put a limit on debate. Thus, many of my colleagues who would have liked to speak on this budget implementation bill, which has many complex ramifications, will not be able to do so because they have been refused the right to speak for their constituents.

In my speech on the budget several weeks ago I attacked the finance minister's bill because it was very pretentious to try to impose a balanced budget act. It is pure comedy. I have studied the clauses relating to this balanced budget act; I have them here. I do not understand how a single Conservative member of this House can extol the merits of this part of the omnibus bill.

Had it been in force for the past seven years, the Conservative cabinet would have had to pay huge sums of money as a result of its intentional, unilateral decisions to reduce taxes on the richest and biggest businesses in our country.

The most reliable institutions estimate the shortfall caused by all the Conservative measures at tens of billions of dollars per year. It was no accident that the government found itself with a record-breaking operating deficit in one budget in the past seven years. It was the government's will and its poor decisions that created a whopping deficit a few years ago. We can see the number of years it took to return to what the Conservatives call a balanced budget, but what is really sleight of hand and a shameful diversion of funds.

My colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour did well to point out, among other things, a further misappropriation of money from the employment insurance fund, amounting to about $2 billion.

He could also have talked about the contingency fund, which serves as insurance for the Government of Canada in the event of a catastrophe or some major disaster that affects Canadians directly, so that the government can provide support to the provinces and municipalities affected.

It is not very surprising that so many seats were won by the NDP in Calgary during the provincial election in Alberta, because this city had been flooded so disastrously. If Calgary were to experience a similar disaster this summer, what would the government do? How would the Conservatives manage after taking all the money out of this fund, which is so essential in the event of a catastrophe?

The Conservatives boast repeatedly about being good managers. It is a myth they are trying to spread by spending millions of dollars on extremely partisan advertising paid for out of the public purse. Unfortunately, as the facts show, the emperor is not wearing any clothes. That is the reality.

Over the past nine years, we have no doubt had the government that has been the worst manager. For months it denied the existence of an economic crisis on which everyone agreed, including all the opposition parties. The NDP had a ringside seat to lobby the government and say that we had to take action to deal with the crisis before us, a crisis which came in large part from the United States. Our American friends suffered enormously, but the government turned a deaf ear. Unfortunately, the late minister of finance, Jim Flaherty, refused to see reality, and with the complicity of the Prime Minister, resisted for months before finally taking action, under pressure from experts and the opposition parties.

This worn-out government's record over the past nine years is extraordinarily bad. It inherited a budget surplus. However it must be said—and there is nothing for the Liberals to be proud of in this—that the surplus was built in large part by depriving the provinces of legitimate transfer payments under the federal contract that had been in place for decades and by making deep cuts in transfers to individuals. The recipe that the Conservatives are using by making giving large corporations huge cuts has also been used by the Liberals. It is very interesting to see that after borrowing and stealing ideas from the NDP for years, the Liberals have now changed their target and are stealing many of the Conservatives’ ideas. The latest example is, of course, the lacklustre plan presented by the member for Papineau, who is trying to win the race of who is going to give the most money to the richest families, such as his own family and the Prime Minister’s. I have not been able to figure out who will win this race, the Conservatives or the Liberals. Of course, I will let them run after the richest people in our society to try to grab their votes.

The concrete reality facing the middle class is that it is suffering from stagnating incomes despite the huge increase in the cost of living, which is forcing people to borrow heavily. We have heard many warnings about the huge debt loads that Canadian households are taking on. I have the immense privilege of serving on the Standing Committee on Finance. I did so in 2013 and I have been serving again since January of this year. I remember the concerns that the chief economist for the TD Bank, Mr. Alexander, very clearly expressed during our study of income inequality. He said that the household debt situation was very troubling for the Canadian economy and that it was an immediate concern. If you look at the macroeconomic data, Canada has nothing to brag about. Despite our wealth of natural resources, our extraordinary human capital and our capacity for innovation, Canada's gross domestic product has stagnated and has been very low. My colleague and immediate neighbour is quite right: our trade balance is a disaster and in a substantial deficit. Maybe this is the Conservative government's new strategy to help developing countries around the world, but for the cost, they should be ashamed for wasting billions of Canadian dollars like that.

In closing, we have a worn-out, tired government. Canadians are really going to have to ask themselves if they want to replace an old horse that is on its last legs with another old horse that already proved its incompetence for four terms about 10 years ago.

People will have some important decisions to make, and the countdown has begun.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker I would like to thank the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans for his desperate attempt to sing the praises of this tired, worn-out government. We are going to talk about real issues instead.

Earlier I asked one of his Conservative colleagues about the opinions of two renowned and credible tax experts who write a column in Les Affaires, a newspaper my colleague certainly knows. Both experts warned people about the Conservative measures, including the universal child care benefit, which they said was just smoke and mirrors in the end.

I am lucky to have my constituency office right next to the office of a tax accountant who has just finished the busy tax return season. He said he was going to recommend that his daughter not spend her lovely July gift cheque, because she will have to write a big cheque to the taxman next spring.

I wonder if the hon. member would be making the same recommendation to his four children.

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 May 14th, 2015

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

I am always surprised to hear members on the government side brag about so-called family measures. I would like to draw my colleague's attention to two regular columnists for Les Affaires, a very reputable business newspaper in Quebec. These columnists are both tax experts. Dany Provost's editorial was called “Conservative budget: nothing impressive”. He warned families that there were pitfalls associated with the new universal child care benefit, the UCCB. He told people not to spend the cheque coming in July on their summer vacation since they will have to pay a big chunk come tax time next year. Josée Jeffrey, a tax expert and financial auditor, said that the UCCB was all smoke and mirrors. I would like to know whether my colleague agrees with the opinions of these financial planning and tax experts.

Beauport—Limoilou May 14th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, wholesale grocer Grossiste Le Frigo will be opening in mid-June in Limoilou. I applaud the arrival of this new meat and produce retailer, which will sell its products at a fraction of the regular market price.

This newcomer joins initiatives such as the Collectif Rutabaga public market and the P'tit marché solidaire de Limoilou in an attempt to increase the supply of affordable fresh produce.

However, these initiatives do not fix the problem facing hundreds of families in Beauport—Limoilou who rely on food banks. Many of them are working families that do not make a decent living.

That is why I will run for the NDP a fourth time and why I will work to implement measures that will truly help the families of Beauport—Limoilou, like a $15 minimum wage.

The people of Beauport—Limoilou work hard to earn a decent living and they deserve policies that address their needs.

Digital Privacy Act May 12th, 2015

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

I completely understand why my colleague was so shocked when she saw the provisions allowing companies that disclose personal information to manage and discipline themselves.

It is quite surprising that, ultimately, the Conservatives are refusing to be guided by the most informed, most qualified experts on the matter. One example is Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner.

With Bill C-51, once again, the Conservatives tried to take evasive action by not inviting the commissioner. However, in the case of the committee work on this bill, the commissioner was able to have his say.

Can my colleague comment on the fact that the very reasonable amendments brought forward by the NDP, which were inspired by the commissioner's comments, were flat out refused by the government, without any discussion?

Digital Privacy Act May 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Terrebonne—Blainville for her speech.

There is something that strikes me and is very upsetting. Every time we meet in committee, the Conservatives block the committee from seriously studying opposition amendments. It is especially disturbing because one of the Conservatives' excuses, if I understand correctly, is that we cannot amend this bill since it came from the Senate and it will go back to the Senate. We have to wonder why the government chose to introduce such an important bill through the Senate.

Could my colleague tell us what she thinks about the government blocking the work that could have been done in committee to improve a bill that could potentially lead to some serious breaches of privacy?