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

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

Mr. Speaker, all NDP members will obviously oppose this bill. It is problematic because instead of trying to find a solution to the problem of forced marriage and the resulting abuse, the bill is merely punitive or tends to take a punitive approach. The Criminal Code already contains all the legislative tools we need to sentence someone who, for example, abuses his spouse or confines her.

I would like my colleague to explain what more this bill will actually contribute, given that the courts and police services are already very well equipped to address the problem. We heard from Canadian organizations and international stakeholders that instead of solving this problem, the bill will even drive many women underground, forcing them to remain in the shadows and suffer their plight in silence.

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

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

The Conservatives are caught up in wishful thinking. Unfortunately, Bill S-7 is another example of a heavy-handed bill that attempts to solve a problem in a way that has not been validated by the experiences of other countries.

The Danes tried this. They passed legislation in 2008, if I am not mistaken, banning forced marriage, but not a single arrest has been made. A Danish national organization for refugee women even said that the legislation passed in Denmark made the problem even worse by forcing women into secrecy.

I wonder if my colleague could comment on that.

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

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

The Conservatives have a knack for fixing problems that do not exist. My colleague talked about the defence of provocation, among other things.

It is laudable to prohibit honour killings, but all of the courts that have addressed this concept of defence have found that a culturally oriented concept of honour does not constitute a defence of provocation under the Criminal Code.

Apart from the marketing and propaganda angles in advance of the upcoming federal election, what is the point of introducing an amendment just for this given that the courts have already ruled that it is not a defence of provocation?

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, before I ask my colleague my question, I have to mention something that I just learned from the Radio-Canada website. Unfortunately, the riding office of our colleague, the hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, was also sent a letter containing a suspicious substance. My thoughts are with the staff of the hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière. I hope the police will once again find that the substance was not dangerous. This is an absolutely sickening situation.

My colleague from Châteauguay—Saint-Constant was talking about public trust in the process, beyond the law and the structures put in place, and the political will that has to be shown in order to earn the public's trust. It is nice to have encouraged the development of pipeline transportation, which is an indisputably safe method, but beyond that, the public has to trust the legislator and the executive power and trust that it will be fair and serious in implementing the law. I would like to know what my colleague from Châteauguay—Saint-Constant thinks of how much the Conservative government can be trusted in this.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent for her speech and especially her diligence in debating this bill.

I cannot help but respond to the rather bizarre question from the member for Trinity—Spadina. No one is challenging, except perhaps for the radical elements opposite, the science behind the safety of pipelines or their potential safety. However, setting that aside, we should not forget the interests promoting the pipelines and the fact that people could decide, in the end, to disregard rules, common sense and science. The Liberals provided one of the best examples, namely their purchase of used and defective submarines that have been very difficult to put into operation. In fact, following massive investments, the submarines were dangerous. That has nothing to do with science.

I would like my colleague to talk about the fact that no matter the scientific facts, the political decisions that may be made could well result in immeasurable danger.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Quebec City's south shore for his heartfelt speech. I know how hard he worked on the Gros-Cacouna oil terminal file. I have to say that my colleague raised some very important issues.

I would like to comment on what some people might consider a bold remark he made about the Conservatives' vote-seeking approach. I am talking about the billion-dollar indemnity that might seem enormous, but is really quite inadequate in relative terms.

I remember everything about the saga—the ongoing saga—involving the Gros-Cacouna oil terminal and the Conservative government's lenient attitude toward the proponent. Despite the very serious objections raised by various stakeholders, including scientists, the Conservatives kept saying there was no problem and it was nothing to get worked up about.

Can my colleague comment on how that kind of leniency can ultimately result in a staggering cost to us as a society?

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Drummond for his question. I want to recognize the work that he does as environment critic, because he is asking a very good question.

Beyond this bill, the Conservatives are undermining Canadians’ potential support for a pipeline project such as energy east by getting rid of the pipeline review process, when everything is in the hands of the National Energy Board, an agency in which Canadians unfortunately do not have much confidence.

Everything appears to be aimed at cramming a project that has not been properly reviewed down Canadians’ throats, without any assurance that the project will be acceptable and without providing any information about the operator's record on greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to climate change. Everything has been streamlined and people feel like they are being held hostage by a project over which they have no control. It is absolutely deplorable.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very interesting question. Beyond Keystone XL, there is a debate in our society about what we are doing with our natural resources and what course we should be prepared to follow.

The Conservatives favour massive exportation of our raw natural resources. We wonder why the Canadian people are being asked to look at this as the only solution, since raw bitumen, along with the chemical mixture that makes it dilute enough to transport by pipeline, is a terribly dangerous cocktail. In Canada, we are not only facing these risks ourselves, we are exporting them to other countries. In the case of Keystone XL, that is the United States, but China and Europe could also be affected.

Why, then, do they want to proceed without any added value and without much thought as to the optimum solution?

Many other countries have shown the way with a much more sensitive approach that respects their own citizens and the whole world.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to speak in the debate on this bill.

As most of my colleagues have said, this bill is important because it is a further step toward applying the polluter pays principle, and I sincerely believe it is fundamentally essential, considering the unbridled increase in the development of various oil and gas resources in Canada and the potential consequences of that. We are aware of all the debates and reactions that oil and gas development and transportation by a variety of methods, including pipelines, give rise to among the general public. It is really important to move forward and take at least this step in the best way possible.

Like all my colleagues in the New Democratic Party—I have not heard any dissenting voices on this issue—I support this bill at second reading, both because of its basic principle and because it contains some really positive elements. However, our support is of course conditional on the fact that we must be able to consider the bill in depth at the committee stage and that ultimately we can look at what is good, what has to be improved and what improvements can be made, in the hopes that the debate can be as broad and as deep as possible.

Moreover, I am taking this opportunity to say that I welcome the fact that the bill is not currently the subject of a time allocation motion. I do not know if that will happen. I may well be in dangerous waters just by bringing it up. I hope I am not giving my Conservative colleagues any ideas about moving a time allocation motion, but it is quite significant. It is also important that we have a very comprehensive debate on this bill and especially that we listen to the views from all parts of Canada. We represent very diverse populations that are sometimes spread over huge areas. As my colleague mentioned earlier, he represents a riding whose vast size is beyond all measure in comparison with the riding that I represent, which is much smaller and very urban. However, in view of some of the pipeline routes, my urban riding is likely to be very deeply affected if there were an accident.

The thing that is really important about the polluter pays principle is that it makes it possible to use an encouraging approach, that is, prevention, which relies on companies’ best practices. Companies wishing to build and operate a pipeline will go much further with their safety measures, doubling or tripling their monitoring and taking containment measures to ensure that they prevent spills as much as possible. If ever there were a spill, they would take steps to keep damage to a minimum.

As some of our colleagues have stressed, deplorable accidents have happened; just a few years ago there was a well-publicized accident along the Kalamazoo River, which was deeply contaminated following a large-scale spill. According to the findings of an investigation, the spill is worrying because of the way in which these types of pipelines are operated. At the end of the day, a company that provides minimum services in order to carry a crude or refined product has too little control and too few teams close by in order to ensure that when something goes wrong with the pipeline, it is identified and then corrective measures are taken as quickly as possible.

This is far from being useful because obviously we can develop our natural resources in a responsible manner.

We can do this without sacrificing environmental sustainability and social acceptability. I am talking about these concepts precisely because environmental development and economic development are two elements that are far from being incompatible. We have discussed, among other things, the idea of having a value-added product, for example, refining crude oil and offering derived products. Furthermore, we might well develop some expertise, which is also value-added and can be exported, not to mention using it here in Canada, in a way that creates high-quality jobs, in order to prevent accidents and reduce the risks and the footprint of the facilities that are already operating.

After discussing environmental sustainability, the other very important aspect is social acceptability, and especially participating in the partnership that can be created with the communities directly or indirectly affected by the movement of equipment, for instance, in the case of a pipeline that goes through a community or at the very least passes close to it. This is of course very demanding. Everybody realizes it. However, it is an essential practice because if the people’s voices are heard and they are convinced that their concerns will be taken into consideration, it is much easier to gain their co-operation in reaching a solution or a result that will preclude unilaterally imposed measures. In fact, imposing measures unilaterally could well lead to fractious disputes and perhaps even to certain excesses. We cannot blame people for this. When people feel that their safety and the safety of their families is under direct threat, how can anyone criticize them for reacting strongly, for making demands, for challenging or wanting to block the project? Some parts of our country are currently going through this situation with projects that are up in the air, under consideration or being developed.

Once we have satisfied these questions of environmental sustainability and social licence, we will be able to ensure real long-term prosperity and, most of all, prosperity that is shared among all segments of society, with everyone's involvement. That is why it is very important for this bill to be thoroughly examined in committee and for the committee to hear a broad range of witnesses. I do not mean only expert witnesses, but also witnesses from civil society and the communities near pipelines and existing facilities. That will help us understand how some of the more controversial aspects of this bill need to be improved.

Of course, one of the aspects I want to touch on is the $1 billion cap on liability when no fault or negligence is proven. This may seem like a very large amount; a billion dollars is an enormous sum. Still, would it be enough for a community like Quebec City, which includes my riding of Beauport—Limoilou, if there were a pipeline project with the potential to affect major sources of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people? Those sources include the St. Lawrence River and a number of large lakes and rivers. What would happen if they were seriously affected over months or years? Losses would go far beyond that level, even if no fault were proven, the company was not liable and it was truly an accident.

Beyond Beauport—Limoilou and Quebec City, what meaning would that level of liability have if natural environments were permanently soiled?

It is possible to do the simple accounting, but it is essential for companies to realize that their liability must be absolute and that they must take every precaution to avoid accidents.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her speech.

There are categories of liability in the event of a spill. If fault or negligence is proven, there is unlimited liability; if it is not proven, liability is limited to $1 billion.

I would like my colleague to tell us more about the problems this could create, because there would obviously be a legal process to determine liability, which, in my view, would delay compensation.