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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

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

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

The distressing situation we are seeing right now in our prisons is partly the legacy of the Liberal government. The Liberals were in power for 13 years. During their reign, or rather, under their yoke, inmates complained about long waiting lists for drug treatment programs. It was already a problem back then. When I ran my first election campaign in 2006, long waiting lists for unemployed workers were already a problem too. The employment insurance program was already full of holes.

I would like my colleague to explain why the Liberal government of the day, the party he represents, did not take steps to fix the problem. I am not interested in hearing about how that was another time and he was not around then.

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sherbrooke for his question.

At the beginning of my mandate, when I was taking my first steps as an MP, I talked to a correctional officer about the reality in our penitentiaries. He said that it was characteristic of this Conservative government to ignore the fact that there is life after prison.

Many people leave our prisons abandoned because they were not guided. They were not given the chance to rehabilitate. The Correctional Investigator and correctional officers are deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation, which unfortunately will only get worse in the coming years.

Again, the Conservatives should be ashamed of keeping silent in this debate. Not one of their MPs has risen to speak. I am really looking forward to the upcoming election. When the Conservatives are called on to defend their sorry record, words will fail them again because they will not have spent enough time practising their speeches.

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I sincerely thank my colleague from Brossard—La Prairie for his question.

I do not want to repeat all of the very sensible points made by our highly esteemed colleague from Newton—North Delta, who spoke in favour of education and of the hopes that could be raised when we invest in the future of our young people and the public in general by providing them with opportunities.

I will pick up where she left off and talk about the upcoming budget. As I already mentioned, I am a member of the Standing Committee on Finance. Unfortunately, as with the nine previous budgets, this 10th budget will once again represent negativity and lost opportunities for a large segment of our population. It will cause problems that could escalate and cause people to lose all hope in improving their future or the future of their loved ones.

That is truly disappointing, since the Conservatives have always sought to punish people who stay away from drugs but who do not yet have a good job for their bad behaviour and bad choices. Instead of providing them with opportunities, to be as inclusive as possible and enable people to make real choices, the Conservatives have always limited these choices, and they will continue to do so in this budget.

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my esteemed colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue for sharing her precious speaking time with me so that I can express my views on Bill C-12 on behalf of the people of Beauport—Limoilou.

The title of the bill is “An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act”. This bill amends a law. The title sends a fairly disturbing message, one that I would call misleading. I would also like to quote the short title, which the Conservatives liked to trot out all the time. It is the “drug-free prisons act”.

Like many people, I have tried to get dandelions out of my lawn. Everyone knows that is one tough slog. I am not saying it is a lost cause, but those dandelions often come back from the other side of the fence when you least expect it.

First of all, I want to emphasize how unrealistic this bill is, which was also pointed out by the very few witnesses we managed to squeeze into the meetings of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. Those witnesses, who were not from the department, pointed out that the bill unfortunately did not introduce anything new, despite its value and the fact that it should be supported. Like my NDP colleagues, I support the bill in principle. This bill will confirm a practice that is already established, but it does not solve the underlying problem.

I want to touch upon the Conservatives' message. It is quite ironic that they have not said a thing since this debate began. I should add that the debate only began about an hour ago, and yet there they sit, firmly rooted in their chairs, refusing to listen to the strong objections and, more importantly, the concerns we are raising in relation to the problem of drug use in our prisons. That problem will not be resolved, not really, by passing this bill.

This title, the drug-free prisons act, and these five clauses send a clear message to inmates with drug problems. If they ever want to be released, they will have to satisfy certain conditions. As far as their substance abuse problem is concerned, they know that they cannot count on getting any help and that they will have to face their problem alone.

That has been precisely the Conservatives' approach for years. Repression above all else is what they promise their base. People who are plagued by a problem they often cannot control are told that they cannot count on the Conservatives to spend any money on supporting them and helping them break free them from their addiction to drugs.

It is really too bad. In addition to ignoring the offender population that is facing very serious problems that might prevent early parole and completely undermining reintegration, once again the Conservatives are refusing to listen to experts directly affected by this, namely staff and the Correctional Investigator. These stakeholders are making recommendations to deal with the substance abuse problems in our prisons and other very serious problems that lead to substance abuse, such as mental health problems, a scourge that affects a large segment of the population.

I have some very disturbing statistics, which clearly illustrate the extent of the current problem in Canada's prisons and penitentiaries.

In 2011, 69% of female inmates and 45% of male inmates were treated for mental health issues. That already speaks to the extent of the problem. However, a certain number of mental health cases may not even be treated. This gives us an idea of how this problem cannot be addressed by the pure and simple repression that the Conservatives defend so vigorously. I am going to tell it like it is: it is easy for the Conservatives to score political points on the backs of our inmates while ignoring mental health problems of this magnitude.

I learned about the position of senior RCMP officials concerning the fight against terrorism. The Standing Committee on Finance, which I am pleased to be a member of, is currently carrying out a valuable study of the financing of terrorism. However, what is troubling is that the RCMP is robbing Peter to pay Paul. We had already heard this at the Standing Committee on Finance, but it was confirmed at a meeting of a Senate committee on public safety, if I am not mistaken. The RCMP is transferring investigators from the fight against organized crime to the fight against terrorism. In the funding approved by the House, $1.5 billion allocated to the RCMP was not spent, but instead returned to the public treasury. Everyone knew it, starting with the Conservatives. However, once again they chose to ignore this. In the end, the RCMP and our correctional services do not have the means to address the enormous challenge of fighting terrorism and organized crime. Similarly, correctional officers are increasingly ill-prepared to address mental health issues, the violence in our prisons and drug use. These budgets are unfortunately being cut.

Ultimately, the claim made by the department and especially by the government that the drug problem in prisons is being adequately addressed rings hollow. I hope that my colleagues will speak up in the House and participate in an important debate. Despite the fancy titles the Conservatives give their bills and the claims they make when they are boasting to their voter base, this once again shows that—I am going to say it again—the victims of crime are collateral victims of the Conservatives' decision to abandon the fight against drugs at every level. We need to focus on prevention.

When people are struggling with addiction and mental health problems and when nothing is done to help them deal with those issues or to prevent them in the first place, they get more and more out of control and their condition deteriorates. It then becomes very difficult for them to deal with these problems by themselves. A correctional officer told me very clearly that, for most of these people, there is life after prison. If their mental health deteriorates and their drug addiction leads them down a dead-end street, their reintegration into society and their ability to find a place in it obviously becomes an enormous obstacle that could lead them to reoffend.

Once again, the Conservatives are not facing the problem and are abandoning the victims of crime in this regard. I would like to end on that note, and I look forward to questions from my colleagues in the House.

I would like to repeat that I support this bill, but I hope that the means will follow. However, I have been saying that in the House and in committee for the past four years, and I no longer expect results from this dying government.

Drug-Free Prisons Act April 21st, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Newton—North Delta for her very sensitive speech that got right to the heart of the problem: how to prevent and address the challenges of incarceration. The important thing is not to create more problems, which is what the government is doing, unfortunately.

During the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security's brief study, the Correctional Investigator was very critical. He condemned the lack of resources to prevent drug use in our prisons. We can try to limit supply, but all of the credible witnesses said that focusing solely on supply is unrealistic. We also need to tackle demand.

That means we have to support inmates coping with addiction. We have to identify them at intake and provide good programs so they can progress and make choices with comprehensive support.

Would my colleague like to comment further on the Correctional Investigator's recommendation?

Business of Supply April 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Brandon—Souris for his speech, but I cannot help but wonder what planet he lives on.

My colleague's speech was so off base with respect to what the people in B.C. affected by the spill are experiencing.

We had the same problem in the Quebec City area when the Conservative government, despite all advice to the contrary, decided to close the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre. Beyond the outcry, the government was forced to realize that moving those services to Ontario was completely unrealistic if it was to respect the linguistic reality of Quebec in the St. Lawrence sector. The government was forced to reverse its decision.

When will the government wake up and reverse its decision to close the British Columbia centre?

Military Contribution Against ISIL March 30th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is rather amusing to see the minister using smoke and mirrors to try to cover up his real agenda.

The government is an expert at that sort of thing. For four years, it has been imposing its will both in the House and in committee by systematically rejecting thousands of amendments put forward by the various opposition parties and refusing to listen to very reasonable and rational speeches about its proposals. Now, the government is claiming that the issue was thoroughly debated.

When did the minister take the time to listen to what was said in this House about this debate alone? When did all of the members of cabinet take into account the opinions of a broad segment of the population that we, the legitimate representatives of that population, have been sharing with them?

The minister may be trying to put one over on members and Canadians, but the truth is that he is trying to once again shut down debate and ignore the opinions of a broad segment of the Canadian population. When will he listen?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech.

The Conservatives' speeches unfortunately sound a bit like the speeches charlatans made in days gone by, when they tried to sell healthy people remedies that would solve all their problems and whatever was ailing them and even give them more energy.

In reality, this bill seeks to replace a host of Criminal Code provisions that in fact prevent assault-related abuses. Obviously, I am not talking about murder. We can talk about threats and coercion, but the troubling thing is that this comes back again to the famous defence of provocation, and it is applied strictly to one category of murder with a racist connotation or, in any case, to only a small part of the population.

I would like my colleague to tell me why this is being applied to that category, where this defence has never managed to prevent a conviction, when this exists for other categories of murder, which are just as unacceptable.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech and we must admit that his main point is rather absurd.

The short title of this bill, which seeks to eliminate barbaric cultural practices, is obviously offensive. It is tinged with racism. Furthermore, we might ask why the Conservatives are trying to use this type of title and this type of bill. It is probably for election purposes. While we are at it, we could debate other barbaric practices. Perhaps we could discuss torture or the use of information obtained by torture.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks of torture, for example. Is that a barbaric practice?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 23rd, 2015

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

She ended her speech by talking about limiting the provocation defence in order to prohibit crimes of honour. This notorious provocation defence is problematic.

I would like my colleague to explain why this bill would simply limit this defence and not abolish it outright in all such cases that could arise.