House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was work.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Canada's Contribution to the Effort to Combat ISIL February 22nd, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by paying tribute to the excellent work done by our soldiers and veterans who fought overseas and who helped protect Canada. I also want to commend them for contributing so much to international peace and security.

In 10 years under the Conservatives, Canada's reputation on the world stage changed, and not for the better, as most Canadians know. During this decade, the Conservatives distanced themselves from a long tradition of responsible international engagement. Our country even skipped out on a number of major international talks. Canada lost its non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

I remember October 12, 2010, very well. We had to take our name out of the running for a seat on the United Nations Security Council after losing the first two rounds of voting. That was the first time that Canada had experienced that kind of loss for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Canada had won that seat every time since 1948.

The dismay was palpable on October 12, 2010. Like many people, I felt ashamed. Canada no longer represented a diplomatic force in the world. This did not come as a complete surprise. We were well aware that the then Conservative government's controversial position on combatting climate change probably had something to do with the reservations some UN countries may have had when they voted in October 2010. One thing had become clear: we had lost our reputation as a diplomatic force and a peacekeeper.

I went into politics for many reasons. First, I wanted to actively assist my region in getting the tools it needs to revive its economy. Second, I wanted to help rebuild Canada's international reputation.

Canada has a longstanding tradition of responsible engagement in international affairs, which is an integral part of our country's identity. Canada should be using its exceptional expertise to serve as a world leader in international co-operation. To be seen and heard, we need to enunciate clearly, speak loudly, and send a strong, clear message.

On October 19, 2015, Canadians sent a clear message that resonated throughout the world: Canada is back on the international scene after a decade of diplomatic disengagement under the Conservatives.

I will repeat: Canada is finally back. Canada will increase its support for UN peacekeeping operations and reinvigorate mediation, conflict prevention, and reconstruction efforts in the wake of these very conflicts.

Canada will do more, but in a different way. Our approach is clearly distinct from and more beneficial than the Conservatives' strictly military approach because of the emphasis on humanitarian assistance, welcoming refugees, and diplomacy.

The mission in Iraq and Syria will be redefined on the basis of this new approach. Our objective is very clear: improve the effectiveness and make better use of the Canadian Armed Forces in order to meet the coalition's current needs.

The Conservatives are surprised. However, we repeated many times that we would stop the air strikes by the CF-18s in Iraq and Syria and focus instead on training local forces fighting on Iraqi soil. The day after we were elected, the Prime Minister informed President Obama of our intentions. The Minister of Foreign Affairs attended many bilateral meetings to explain our approach and to contribute additional resources to help meet the need for training, transportation, and medical assistance.

We are expanding the humanitarian assistance component as promised. The diplomatic component will also be bolstered by increasing staff in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. We will also deploy more military personnel in the region to carry out different duties, including training.

I want to remind members of the House of the changes we will make. We will increase the number of Canadian Armed Forces members deployed as part of Operation Impact from 650 to approximately 830.

We will triple Canada's train, advise, and assist mission in northern Iraq to boost local security forces' independence. We will provide additional intelligence resources in northern Iraq and theatre-wide to better protect coalition forces and those of the host country. That will enable the coalition to develop a more detailed understanding of the threat and improve its ability to target, degrade, and defeat ISIS.

We will continue to support coalition operations with our Polaris aerial refueller and up to two Aurora surveillance aircraft. We will provide training in the use of military equipment supplied by the Government of Canada in accordance with Canadian and international law.

We will offer to participate in the coalition's ministerial liaison, which supports Iraq's ministries of defence and the interior. We will enhance our capacity-building efforts in Jordan and create a new program in Lebanon. Finally, we will deploy Canadian Armed Forces medical personnel to support Canadian security forces and their Iraqi counterparts.

The changes I just listed constitute an informed, clear plan. Our allies recognize that Canada continues to support the air mission by providing two surveillance aircraft and one refuelling aircraft. We will also be contributing something that is considered crucial to the long-term success of the mission, and that is training for Kurdish soldiers.

Let us be clear: we never said anything about a total end to military participation, which is what the NDP promised. We are focusing on training over air strikes. Canada will be more useful in this way, since it has developed real expertise in that area.

Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance recently pointed out that we should not fall into the trap of describing the Iraq mission as something other than a support operation. While air strikes can be useful in the short term, they do not offer any long-term stability. To achieve that, we need to provide the population with the means to ensure its own defence and security.

The decade of isolation under the Conservatives is over. Canada is resuming its diplomatic role in order to help find political solutions to the crisis in the Middle East by supporting the peace process backed by the United Nations and contributing to the efforts by the Iraqi government to promote reconciliation.

Our government is taking a pragmatic and modern approach. That is the promise of a responsible Canada that is engaged in the world in a positive way.

Canada's Contribution to the Effort to Combat ISIL February 19th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by expressing heartfelt thanks to our colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles for all the work he did during his time in the army, as well as to our Conservative colleague for her involvement in her community.

The word “mistake” has been used a few times during the speeches we have heard. I think the only mistake that Canadians made was keeping the Conservatives in power for 10 years. That problem was solved on October 19, when the Liberal Party took over.

How can the Conservatives say we are making a mistake? During the election campaign, we made it very clear that we planned to withdraw our CF-18s from combat. On top of that, in 2010, the Conservatives implemented a strategy that was similar to ours. Why do they want to go against the wishes of Canadians who made a clear choice on October 19 based on our promise to withdraw the CF-18s?

Canada Labour Code February 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my colleague asked an excellent question.

I was a unionized employee of the federal government and various organizations for many years. In recent years, I worked with union associations and union representatives. The key to developing an organization, no matter what kind, is to work together with the union representatives, the unions, management and employers in order to develop excellent collaboration that will advance our files and our organizations. Attempting to sow division will not help advance files and initiatives and develop our economy. By having employers, union members, and unions work together, we can build our country in a constructive manner and develop our economy.

Canada Labour Code February 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, my opposition colleague knows that the card check system ensures automatic accreditation without a vote.

The union can also prove that it received a signed membership card from a majority of the unit members or employees. It is important to know that this does not eliminate the possibility of having a secret ballot. There is provision for this type of mechanism, and it can exist under the current process.

Canada Labour Code February 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for her question. The economic well-being of our regions is a concern for our government.

As I said earlier, the economic situation in our regions is very difficult, and the unemployment rate is very high. By working together to make the investments in our regions that we promised during the campaign and by investing in infrastructure, we will create good, well-paying jobs in order to support our families. In recent weeks we have made various commitments and announcements with respect to fostering the development of our regional economies. I am very proud to be involved in this type of initiative.

Canada Labour Code February 16th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, our government is determined to restore fair and responsible labour policies in Canada because unions and employers play an important role in protecting the rights of Canadian workers. They help make the middle class more accessible and help it to grow.

We need to work with labour organizations, not against them. That is why we have kept our promise and that is why I invite every member of the House to support this important bill.

We introduced Bill C-4, which repeals the legislative changes made under Bill C-377 and Bill C-525. That is an excellent decision.

Unions and labour organizations have expressed strong opposition to these two laws since they were introduced in Parliament. In spite of everything, obviously, some people may oppose Bill C-4. We are prepared to listen to the concerns of all of the parties involved.

However, I would like to be proactive and explain to the members here today that, despite what some may think, Bill C-4 will be good for labour relations across Canada. Certain supporters of Bill C-377 indicated that it was necessary to improve union financial transparency. They also said that it was necessary to ensure public access to information on union spending, given the favourable treatment that unions receive under taxation law.

However, these arguments do not hold water. Section 110 of the Canada Labour Code already requires unions to provide financial statements to their members free of charge upon request. What is more, provincial labour statutes include similar requirements. Also, the onerous disclosure requirements apply only to labour organizations and labour trusts. They do not apply to other groups that also benefit from special tax breaks under the Income Tax Act. This practice discriminates against unions.

I realize that some provinces have raised questions about repealing Bill C-377. British Columbia's finance minister wrote to the Senate to express his support for this bill. He said there was merit in increasing union transparency, since unions receive tax advantages. However, as I said, these onerous disclosure requirements discriminate against unions, and British Columbia's opinion is not shared by the majority.

Seven provinces came out against Bill C-377, claiming that it encroached on their jurisdictions. These provinces are Quebec, New Brunswick, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

As for Bill C-525, employers and other stakeholders who support union certification by secret ballot could be displeased. They do not need to worry, though, since the previous card check system for sectors under federal jurisdiction was successful for many years. This system is still used in many provinces.

As for Federally Regulated Employers, Transportation and Communications, some non-unionized members could have a problem with the repeal of Bill C-525. They could be concerned that this bill is being repealed but stakeholders have not been consulted.

I want to reassure them. We are doing this because we want to listen to all of the stakeholders. By repealing the legislative changes made by Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, we will simply go back to the way things were so that we can start over again. We will do more than our predecessors and ensure that all stakeholders are properly consulted before any changes are made to federal laws and policies.

We aim to restore a climate of co-operation and develop evidence-based policies. All parties must participate in a constructive manner.

We will use genuine consultations as the basis for developing labour policies that will make Canadian workers and employers more prosperous and improve the economy overall. Those are just some of the ways that Bill C-4 will be good for labour relations and, as a result, our economy.

It is clear that repealing the changes made by Bills C-377 and C-525 is the sensible thing to do. We are listening and acting respectfully. Our government made a commitment to enhancing Canadians' economic and social security, and that is what we are doing.

In my riding, Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, employers, unionized workers and unions have joined forces to defend our region's interests.

In a remote region such as ours, it can be hard for workers and people in general to make their voices heard. Mainstream media do not often talk about what is going on in our regions, but we are coping with major issues too. I would like to share a personal and professional experience. In the fall of 2014, when my region was contending with major cuts in several sectors of our economy, we got word that Quebec CEGEPs were slated for yet another round of cuts. At the time, I was the executive director of the CEGEP de Matane. Management and employees alike felt powerless to do anything about all of the budget cuts, which were going to result in job losses, raise the unemployment rate, which was already three times higher than the Canadian average, and exacerbate a very difficult economic situation. Rather than endure the cuts alone, I decided to get all of the CEGEP employees and their union representatives together, and I put an unusual idea to them. I suggesting holding a two-day retreat to discuss the repercussions of the cuts in the region with relevant experts and donating the equivalent of two days' salary to the CEGEP de Matane foundation. In return, I promised not to cut a single job. The goal was to mitigate the cuts and clearly demonstrate our commitment to our community, our workers, and our CEGEP.

In an unprecedented expression of solidarity, all the employees, their union representatives, their union, and the entire student population supported this initiative. We had two days dedicated to reflection, and we all contributed two days' salary to the CEGEP de Matane foundation. We mobilized a number of local socio-economic stakeholders who joined forces to defend the interests of our workers and our region.

Division never serves the community. It is time to come together and develop a relationship of trust with our workers. Together, we can create real, positive change.

Promoting the Regions February 1st, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I want to honour the outstanding contribution of a dedicated journalist from my riding, Pierre Morel, who kept people in my region informed over this course of his nearly 40-year career.

Like other journalists from my region, Pierre is a stalwart of the regional news scene. Unfortunately, regional issues get overlooked in media coverage. According to Influence Communication's latest report, the Gaspé region's share of media attention was 0.1%, which is a direct result of reduced media presence in the regions. Our regions are bursting with talent, resources, dedicated business owners, and creators. Back home, we are so lucky to have documentary film producers, animated film producers, video game creators, and producers of creations that promote culture in Canada.

During the election campaign, we promised to reinvest in CBC/Radio-Canada and in the Canada Council for the Arts, and that is what we are going to do. If we are able to promote our regions, our people, and our culture across Canada and around the world, we can attract new investments, foster economic development, and create many jobs.

Labour January 28th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, the rights of workers in my riding of Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia were violated for nearly a decade because of the Conservatives' anti-union positions.

Can the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour tell the House what measures our government is taking to better protect the rights of workers?

Speech from the Throne December 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat exactly what I said earlier. Canadians made a clear choice in October. They chose a leader with a vision. That is going to make the difference in Canada. All members of the House will work together to deliver and implement our plan.

Speech from the Throne December 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want a government that keeps its promises and focuses on what is most important: growing the economy, creating jobs, strengthening the middle class, and helping those working hard to join it.

I have three priorities in my riding: regional economic renewal, regional economic renewal, and regional economic renewal.