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 Budget April 28th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Whitby—Oshawa for her speech. I would also like to thank her for tacitly admitting that the measure that the NDP has been defending for years, namely the lowering of the tax rate for small businesses, was a good idea. We commend the Conservative government for including this measure in its budget, even though it waited many years to do so.

That being said, I would like to come back to the motion that my esteemed colleague moved, which I was pleased to support. This motion seeks to amend the budget through substitution. This is the third day of the budget debate, and I am very concerned about the fact that the term “income splitting” is nowhere to be found in the budget nor is it being mentioned in my Conservative colleagues' speeches.

I would like my colleague from Whitby—Oshawa to explain to the House why Conservative members cannot use the term “income splitting”. Did they receive that instruction from the Prime Minister's Office?

Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her speech. She raised some very serious objections related to the dangers of Bill C-51.

When the Standing Committee on Finance was studying terrorism financing and in related conversations, I had the opportunity to talk to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien. He confirmed the impression I had that some federal agencies and departments affected by the bill, such as the Canada Revenue Agency, could end up freely sharing information from individuals' tax records. Mr. Therrien said that was indeed the case.

Can the member elaborate on other examples of information sharing allowed by this bill that would be excessive or potentially inappropriate?

The Budget April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my colleague for taking us to that page, but I would like to take him to page 210 of the document in the French version, or page 190 in the English version, because he will be able to see that the celebrated public transit fund is far off in the future. In fact it starts gently, then it sharply increases. Of course by that time the Conservatives will have had a few years to reflect on their past sins while they were in power and were imposing their will on the provinces, the territories and the municipalities.

The Budget April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I imagine that my colleague, the member for Sherbrooke,must be talking about the new balance approach adopted by theMinister of Finance. He in fact showed up with New Balance shoes on his feet. This means that in the final analysis we are achieving the balance at the expense of future generations.

It must be said that the Minister of Finance was very clear in his approach. He blatantly revealed his agenda: kick the can down the road, and for now, take the money, enjoy it and use it to party hard.

The Budget April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for Winnipeg North. In fact, there is a lot of unfairness toward a large part of Canada’s population, particularly the middle class. It is the middle class that has to bear most of the tax burden at the federal level. This is really deplorable.

One of the factors that explains this is the huge cut in corporate taxes over the last 20 years. Big businesses have seen their taxes drop; in fact, their taxes have been reduced by half. That has led to an outrageous tax inequity between big and small businesses, such as my barber or the owner of the corner store. Fortunately, after repeating our message over and over for the past nine years that small business deserves a chance, the Conservative government has finally taken some action in this budget and decreased the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%, even though the rate of the reduction is very slow. This reduction is consistent with the goal the NDP has been trying to achieve for years.

The Budget April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for sharing her valuable speaking time. I have no doubt that she could have easily used ten more minutes to discuss other aspects of the budget that affect citizens in her beautiful riding.

I will not conceal from you that since this fine document became my bedside reading, that is for the last 48 hours, I have found some aspects rather amusing, and many others have greatly distressed me.

I will focus my remarks on two specific aspects. Before anything else, however, I will give my Conservative colleagues 10 minutes of thinking time so that they can help me with my research. Since our budget document amounts to almost 600 pages in the French version, I will help them by asking them to refer to chapter 4.1. That could facilitate my research. I looked for the words “fractionnement du revenu”, or income splitting, and unfortunately I could not find them anywhere. I am trying to understand what mystery could surround this mysterious disappearance of what some of our backbench colleagues were defending tooth and nail to their fellow citizens.

They were saying in fact that they had made this commitment during the last election campaign, they were sticking to it and they wanted it to be done. I would thank them for being so kind as to help me by indicating, within nine minutes, on which page the words “fractionnement du revenu”, or income splitting, are to be found.

That said, I will begin with the most amusing aspect. I have to confess that I was bowled over when I saw the commitment the Minister of Finance was boasting about, and I imagine it was probably one of the Prime Minister’s ideas, with regard to the balanced budget legislation. I have to confess that in terms of comedy, it is difficult to think of anything worse—or better, depending on whether you relish the absurdity of it.

I will not presume to mock a government measure, whatever the colour of the government, as long as the basis is sound and the intent favours the largest number, or the common interest. Yet that is absolutely not the case with this bill, or at least the bill proposed and described in the budget document.

Let us look at what such legislation could potentially contain. I trust that in the time allowed for my remarks, the Conservatives will be taking a lot of notes, because this bill may well contain things that are totally absurd and unacceptable, unless of course it is included in the budget implementation bill and thus that becomes an omnibus bill. I know that all bets are open as to whether it will have fewer than 400 pages or more than 400 pages, but that is another question. In a few weeks, we will know what we have to deal with.

The Conservatives are defending a number of things in the balanced budget legislation, because they say it does the following:

preserves Canada’s low-tax plan and allows for further tax reductions, fostering growth and the creation of jobs for the benefit of all Canadians;

For the past nine years, the Conservatives have been implementing their low-tax agenda, especially for their wealthiest friends, but also when it comes to creating jobs and activities for Canada's labour force, namely people between 25 and 55. The Bank of Canada, however, has been very harsh, saying that the employment and activity level of that category of worker has remained the same since we came out of the last recession, in 2009. In other words, Canada is stagnating. There is no way an NDP government would comply with that requirement of the future legislation.

The other really amusing aspect—and I have asked many questions about this very subject throughout the four years that I have been here representing the people of Beauport—Limoilou—has to do with the part stating that this legislation:

helps to instill confidence in consumers and investors, whose dollars spur economic growth and job creation;

Canadian—and even foreign—investors are rather cautious. According to another very harsh observation by the Bank of Canada, businesses are unfortunately sitting on huge amounts of money and not investing in improving their productivity.

Moreover, the excess capacity in Canada's businesses was substantial, despite the government's claims that the economy was vibrant and our strengths were being put to good use. After the drop in oil prices and in the Canadian dollar with respect to the American dollar, despite the improved margins that provided, the recovery they were hoping for has clearly not materialized, because businesses are not prepared for it.

Businesses are not prepared to hire people to take advantage of opportunities in the current situation. The oil-dependence trap makes us much more sensitive to the slowdowns and problems that resulted from the drop in international oil prices. That will affect the entire Canadian economy.

Furthermore, they avoid talking about any future tax increases or service reductions. I could completely agree about service reductions, were it not for the fact that, when we call the Canada Revenue Agency during tax season we reach a voice mailbox, and the chances of an official calling us back with answers to our questions are practically nil. My colleague is telling me they are actually nil. He must have learned that from his constituents in the riding of Saint-Jean.

If the Conservatives had brought in this balanced budget law nine years ago, it would have been interesting, because we would have been able to force them to take responsibility for their actions, particularly the draconian cuts in services. That was not the case, however. They are bringing in this bill now, when they know they are going to be tossed out of office and be replaced by a New Democratic government.

One funny thing in this budget document is the list of all the criteria for an acceptable deficit in a recession or under extraordinary circumstances such as a war or natural disaster, and the requirement that the finance minister must appear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance within 30 days following presentation of a budget deficit.

I am very happy about that, because the finance committee's invitations to the Minister of Finance often go unanswered. Obviously, he is too busy criss-crossing the country to make announcements about his amazing measures, such as income splitting. No, of course not: he does not use those words. He no longer makes announcements across the country about income splitting. It is a non-existent concept cloaked in the very vague definition of a “family tax cut” in this budget.

Let us take a look at an issue that is even more discouraging. In chapter 3.4, Investing in Infrastructure, there is a new public transit fund. From an objective point of view, it is quite good news that there should be recurring, long-term funding for public transit. Unfortunately, it will come too late. I do not know how to explain the delay. Is it because the Conservatives really do not know what public transit represents? Maybe we have to help them and show them what a city bus or a commuter train looks like.

When we try to understand what the Conservatives are trying to do with their notorious fund for public transit projects, it is really discouraging to note that they want to force municipalities to work in a public-private partnership. It is the same thing with the building Canada plan. However, that is the opposite of what the infrastructure minister claims, namely that the federal government does not want to get involved in provincial or municipal projects. This is interference.

How can the Conservatives justify imposing their will on the management of infrastructure projects, such as road projects, which fall under provincial or municipal jurisdiction?

If a municipality decides to go ahead with a public transit project, for instance, a streetcar or rapid transit system, and it decides to develop the project by keeping total control over it without involving the private sector, why should the federal government reject its application for funding? Clearly, it seems that this condition will enable the Conservatives to refuse any project that fails to comply with its PPP obligation.

Frankly, the Conservatives are going to have to answer serious questions about their interference in other levels of government right across the country.

The Environment April 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we know that the government is reviewing a request for funding to expand the Port of Québec, but the public still does not know what the facilities will be used for. A number of people are concerned about the potential consequences of this project, and any project could have a considerable impact on the environment.

Will the Conservatives reassure the people of Quebec City and require the port authority to be transparent? Can they commit to conducting a full environmental assessment for any expansion of the Port of Québec?

Financial Statement of the Minister of Finance April 22nd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his amendment, which I am pleased to second on behalf of the people of Beauport—Limoilou.

If I may, I would like to say a quick word about tax avoidance, and the member for Papineau and his gang could accuse my barber of that. I am sure that when I go and have my hair cut, my barber will have some very interesting feedback regarding that accusation from the Liberals.

That said, to come back to our amendment, now the Conservatives are refusing to talk about income splitting. That is very interesting. I wanted to ask my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley what he thinks of the fact that the term “income splitting” was nowhere to be found in the Minister of Finance's speech yesterday.

For the past several weeks, however, Conservative backbenchers have been practically bellowing, wanting to talk about the promises they made to their voters to bring in income splitting. Now it looks somewhat like a pill that is leaving a bad taste in the Conservatives' mouths.

What are my colleague's thoughts on that?

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. Although we support the idea and the principle behind this bill because it represents something positive, there is no denying that we are very concerned about how the Conservative government plans on addressing the scourge of drugs.

As my colleague indicated, problems have escalated in our prisons and the situation is almost unmanageable in some respects. Drug addiction prevention programs at Correctional Service Canada have undergone significant cuts. The situation is so serious that the Correctional Investigator made some very important recommendations. One of the recommendations was an assessment of prisoners at intake into correctional programs to identify their addiction problems and to help meet their needs to reduce their dependency on drugs.

Could my colleague comment on how the government will help—or likely not help—prisoners who are struggling with addiction?

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is really unfortunate to see the member spewing this rhetoric rather than having the courage to respond directly to the questions he is asked. My colleague from Ahuntsic asked him a very interesting question.

I want to talk about another issue, though, because any time we talk about drug use in prisons, we have to talk about mental health issues. There is a link between the two. The member will have to defend this record under the Liberals, in light of the upcoming election campaign, so he can practice by answering our questions directly.

The number of inmates with mental disorders doubled under the Liberal government. In my speech this morning, I indicated that over half of all inmates have been treated for mental health issues. This is huge, and it is a serious problem that is directly related to the problem of drug use and trafficking in prisons.

How can he justify this Liberal record from the time they were in power?