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

Copyright Modernization Act October 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act. Modernizing copyright is a legitimate goal, but how we achieve that goal is what must be debated. However, before I focus on any specific aspects of what the Conservatives are proposing, I would like to take a moment to share a little story.

Please allow me to illustrate the injustice suffered by our creators with an example taken from the reality facing wheat producers in the west. Imagine that a company has invented a revolutionary way to duplicate wheat to allow the synthesis of an equally high-quality flour used in a simple, practical, compact machine that makes sliced bread. Thanks to a sophisticated device, the wheat can be duplicated almost exactly, so well in fact that once it is milled into flour, the illusion is complete and the machine can produce tasty, fresh, aromatic bread. But it does not end there. The machine is quickly improved. It becomes more compact, lighter and easier to use. It can now even make buttered toast with a choice of toppings: peanut butter, jam or, my personal favourite, honey. It is easy to carry around so you can have breakfast anywhere; you can have a nice piece of bread in your car, on the bus or at the office. As a bonus, all of these places then smell like fresh bread or buttered toast, to everyone's amazement and delight.

Copyright Modernization Act October 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the hon. member's speech. I, too, am very worried about digital locks and anti-circumvention measures. Last spring, ironically enough, the members across the way were tearing their hair out during the debate about Statistics Canada and prison terms related to the long form census.

In Bill C-11, people who try to bypass a security measure could be fined $1 million or sentenced to up to five years in prison. Given that the omnibus bill will make it even more difficult for someone sentenced to jail time to be rehabilitated, could Bill C-11 have serious consequences?

Copyright Modernization Act October 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to my colleague's speech, which was very interesting. What struck me was the amount of $30 million that creators can collect from the existing fund. That is a very small amount of money compared to everything that is at stake and compared to the total cultural economic activity.

Could my colleague talk to us more about the fact that what our creators and artists are calling for represents a drop of water in the economic ocean of all the potential spinoffs?

Small Business October 19th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to see the government simply tossing quarters here and there for small businesses.

Let us look at something else. Under this government, it is becoming increasingly difficult for young entrepreneurs to get funding, yet small businesses are responsible for creating 60% to 70% of jobs. This situation is unsustainable, especially knowing that the youth unemployment rate is at a worrisome level.

Will this government finally introduce a job creation tax credit, as the NDP has been asking for?

Small Business October 19th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, as we celebrate Small Business Week, the situation of small businesses in the country is alarming. According to Industry Canada's most recent newsletter, funding for small business has levelled off since the Conservatives came to power. Business owners have to work extremely hard, but this government prefers to give enormous tax cuts to corporations, even though we know such cuts are ineffective.

Will this government listen to the NDP and lower the tax rate for small businesses?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 6th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I listened very attentively to the two speeches of the members opposite and I am disappointed to see them clinging to analyses based on data from two, three or four years ago. This gives results that may not still be valid. If I had applied the same logic, I would have given up before the election campaign had even begun and I would have never won my seat.

In my work as the small business critic, I apply a detailed analysis of the current reality. That is exactly what I did during the last election campaign to the point where I was practically announcing that I had won.

I am trying to understand something. I was able to beat my Conservative opponent, and my Bloc Québécois opponent finished third despite the system of public financing of parties. The system works and it is fair. Why is the government trying to go backward so that elections can be bought?

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 6th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Jeanne-Le Ber raises a crucial point. He is in a unique position to understand the needs facing the most disadvantaged groups.

The Conservative measure excludes so many families that, in the end, we have to wonder why they bothered introducing it at all. What is truly unfortunate is that, at the same time, many organizations are seeing their budgets being cut, even where money was well invested and producing results. Meanwhile, unfortunately, even for the families that can benefit from it, this tax credit does not even amount to one cup of coffee a week. How does this benefit everyone? It is basically a waste of $110 million.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 6th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I do not understand why the Conservatives are so against small businesses, as the hon. member pointed out.

The hon. member mentioned an extremely important factor, namely the accumulated funds or the $500 billion in cash held by Canadian companies, particularly large corporations. To use some imagery, it is about the same as the captain of a ship putting the ballast at the top of the mast, which, with the speculation we have been through in the past, will make it pitch more and more sharply and will make everyone feel sick.

All this risk is expensive and makes life difficult for Canadian families and small businesses. I therefore call upon the government to put an end to it.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 6th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for giving me the opportunity to speak about the issue of large corporations.

I have absolutely nothing against large corporations, but I do have something against the preferential treatment this government has been giving them in the form of approximately $10 billion a year in tax breaks since it came into office. This money has been completely wasted and the Conservatives are depriving the public treasury unnecessarily. As I said, the state has financial resources, but this government is giving them away big time.

Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act October 6th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, this is my third 10-minute speech during debates on bills in a week, and I truly feel honoured to express my vision of Canada in the House.

I have taken the time to study aspects of the bill on implementing certain provisions of budget 2011 and, although I am in favour of some of the measures, others are not very useful and are even harmful in my eyes. As I have already mentioned on other occasions, the government is a major, essential economic player, and anything we do or stop doing has significant consequences for taxpayers, businesses and public servants.

In other words, Bill C-13, dubbed the “Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act”, is not worthy of its name. While the government claims to be promoting economic growth and job growth, we quickly see that it is not taking into consideration the priorities of Canadian families and that small businesses are being overlooked.

I will start with a tax measure that is useless to most and irritating because it is a shameless vote-buying ploy. I am talking about the children's arts tax credit, which will cost the national budget $110 million in lost taxes without clearly promoting participation in artistic activities or affecting the millions of families who do not pay taxes because of their specific situation.

Between 35% and 40% of Canadian taxpayers do not pay taxes for one reason or another. In the vast majority of cases, it is because of their low income. A significant portion of these low-income taxpayers are our seniors. We cannot blame them for not paying taxes, because they are living on less than $20,000 a year.

Another portion of these taxpayers is made up of families with young children whose parents are either young workers who earn close to minimum wage or victims of occasional or long-term unemployment. Most of these Canadian families will not be able to benefit from this tax credit because they do not have a high enough income. This is an elitist measure that excludes a large number of Canadians, people who need to get involved in society and give their children an opportunity to have enriching experiences.

Why exclude these families? Did the government call it a day after creating those 600,000 jobs and give up on addressing the pressing needs of Canadian families?

We have known for a long time that the Conservatives have decided to favour major corporations at the expense of small businesses. This year alone, the government has given nearly $2 billion in tax cuts to businesses that are not held accountable for this massive amount of money. Although our plan is clear on predictions for job creation, the Conservatives refuse to listen to us and implement support measures for Canadian small businesses. The NDP wants to help families directly by creating good-quality jobs. These jobs will enable Canadians to live a decent life in this fragile global economy.

This week, we received the Conservatives' support on a motion calling for immediate economic action. The motion received the unanimous support of the House. Since they recognize the need to act quickly, why do the Conservatives not use their strong mandate to take immediate action instead of giving us this bill with a misleading title? Yet they gave us a strong mandate by supporting that motion.

This bill includes very few measures to stimulate the Canadian economy. There is a temporary tax credit of up to $1,000 on employment insurance premiums, for one year only. This measure announced by the Conservatives does not target new job creation since it applies only to existing jobs. A business can obtain this tax credit by simply increasing an employee's hours. So how will this measure create jobs? It is wishful thinking to expect that that this measure will create jobs. Furthermore, since this measure is temporary, what guarantees that the jobs created this year will be kept next year? If the incentives for businesses are no longer there, why would they create jobs? While we are proposing sensible and responsible solutions for job creation, the Conservatives are throwing money out the window. Instead of giving a tax credit to create jobs, the Conservatives are blindly handing out tax credits.

In addition, there is no information available about the estimated number of jobs that will be created by this bill. We have the impression that the bill was thrown together. Canadian taxpayers do not want this government to squander their taxes, and they want to know what results to expect. This government must be responsible and forecast the results of this fiscal policy before implementing it. How many jobs will be created by these half measures or by this almost total lack of measures?

Is the government searching for economic priorities? I would like to provide one that is important to me in this “year of the entrepreneur”. In Canada, the entrepreneurship rate is declining and, according to the report on entrepreneurship, could sink into the red by 2018. The situation is that serious. Briefly, the report explains that the number of new entrepreneurs is not even sufficient to replenish firms that are already on the market. Owners of profitable and productive businesses will be forced to shut their doors if we do not act quickly.

Quebec has been hit harder than the other provinces by this problem. The government has a duty to take immediate action to deal with the problem of entrepreneurial renewal in Canada. It must get its priorities right and be proactive. Encouraging entrepreneurial renewal is the best way of ensuring that our economy will develop in a sustainable manner.

The NDP is proposing clear actions to support the Canadian economy: cut small business taxes from 11% to 9% and offer a tax credit of up to $4,500 for each job created within the Canadian economy. We also proposed an employee retention incentive that would include offering employers a tax credit of up to $1,000 if they commit to maintaining the jobs created.

Our employment plan aims to create 200,000 sustainable jobs each year, jobs that will support Canadian families. That is concrete action, touch wood. We will ensure Canada's economic prosperity by supporting small business. That is a plan that works and that will work if the government agrees to use it to create jobs. It is solid. It is a plan that responds to the needs of Canada's small businesses.

To conclude, I would like to say that one of my many weaknesses is the pride I inherited from my late father. I refuse to be treated like a monkey being tossed a handful of peanuts. These crumbs are an insult to the intelligence and dignity of this country's families—I am talking about the tax credit for families for art activities—and a large number of families are excluded, as I explained earlier. People need far more dignified and respectful measures.

Can I, as a member of Parliament, accept that a mostly ineffective, needlessly expensive measure—one that has no effect on the families that need it most—is being inserted into this bill?