House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was lac-saint-jean.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as Liberal MP for Lac-Saint-Jean (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 25% of the vote.

Statements in the House

2019 Election June 10th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, in October 2017, the voters of Lac-Saint-Jean decided to elect a government member who puts family, economic development and equality of opportunity first.

I am proud and honoured to be part of a government that has helped my region move forward on a number of key projects. I am thinking of infrastructure investments, specifically the $12 million invested to build a railway bridge across the Mistassini River, a project that is vital to the economic development of my region. I am also thinking of how well our economy is doing; it has helped create one million jobs and has brought unemployment to its lowest rate in 40 years. Lastly, I am also thinking of the Canada child benefit, which is helping nearly 20,000 children in Lac-Saint-Jean every month, not to mention our investments to support seniors.

Our government is having a real and positive impact on our families and our businesses. There is no question that we are the only government that will be able to preserve these gains. On October 21, the choice will be obvious.

Business of Supply June 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the answer is likely forthcoming.

When we wake up in the morning, we do not know what to expect. In politics, one never knows what could happen. I therefore encourage my hon. colleague to be patient. One never knows, there may be good news one of these days. What we hope is that we will be able to provide money for advertising. My hon. colleague knows full well that change takes time.

Business of Supply June 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the newspaper industry was hard hit by the 2008 economic crisis. The combined operating revenue of all newspaper publishers went from $5.5 billion in 2008 to $3.2 billion in 2016. During that time, 41 daily newspapers closed their doors, as did 235 weekly papers, and more than 10,000 jobs were cut.

Our government is getting at the root of the problem. That is why we are taking meaningful measures to help media outlets, both big and small.

We must also protect journalistic independence. That is why an independent panel of experts was formed. Journalism, as my colleague across the way knows, is at the foundation of our democracy, but the Conservatives never miss an opportunity to attack its independence. It is very unfortunate, especially coming from MPs who were once journalists.

A Conservative MP and former journalist said last week that the Conservative Party was pleased to see struggling old newspapers closing down, describing them as fossils. What an insult.

Last week, The Hamilton Spectator announced that it was closing its presses, eliminating 73 full-time jobs and 105 part-time jobs. This local newspaper is not an isolated example. Far from being fossils, these local institutions are essential sources of community news and information. The Conservatives should stop with their conspiracy theory and do something to protect journalism, a pillar of our democracy.

Business of Supply June 3rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for South Surrey—White Rock.

I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to an issue that is very important to me, namely the media. The media and local newspapers play a crucial role all across Canada. I am particularly proud of the media in my riding, Lac-Saint-Jean, including our Trium Media newspapers, L'Étoile du lac, Le Lac-Saint-Jean and Le Nouvelles Hebdo, which provide quality content to the people of Lac-Saint-Jean.

Whether we want to know about politics, general news, culture or sports, we can count on the professionalism of our journalists to keep us up to date on local news. Unfortunately, access to trustworthy and professional journalism is becoming increasingly rare. Canadians do not have the access they once did to reliable local news because of the drastic changes besetting our media.

Right now, in this era of fake news, people should not rely on Facebook as their only news source. On my Facebook page recently, I learned that a Second World War submarine had been discovered in Lac-Saint-Jean. What the heck, how did it get there?

Newspapers in particular are struggling to fulfill their civic duties at the local level, hence the importance of having local news. I am not going to find local news stories or the ice-out forecast for the local lake in La Presse or Le Devoir. I am and will always be in favour of a strong, free local press. Our local newspapers are the backbone of information in our communities. In the era of the information explosion and platform proliferation, our local newspapers offer a regional view of the issues and are vital to local debate.

A recent study on local media coverage entitled “Mind the Gaps: Quantifying the Decline of News Coverage in Canada” noted that over the past 10 years, the number of local newspaper articles fell by half. Fifty percent of articles disappeared.

Since 2008, 41 daily newspapers have closed down, along with 235 weeklies. During the same period, the sector shed over 10,000 jobs. This is a real crisis that is hitting Canada's print media.

Sadly, the Conservatives would rather bury their heads in the sand while the news industry crumbles around them. The challenges that the media has encountered are significant. As we say back home, even a blind person could see this.

It is important to remember that for a democracy to work properly, it is vital that we have a strong, independent news media. It is the very foundation of democracy. An independent press must have the financial means to keep our citizens informed. A press that is near bankruptcy is not a free press.

That is why our government is getting to the heart of the problem and implementing concrete measure to support Canadian newspapers, big and small. Budget 2019 proposes three new tax measures to support Canadian journalism: first, allowing journalistic organizations to register as qualified donees; second, creating a refundable labour tax credit for eligible journalistic organizations; and third, creating a non-refundable tax credit for subscriptions to Canadian digital media platforms.

Together these concrete measures will do a lot to help support the production of professional journalistic content.

Canadians should have access to a vast array of independent, trustworthy news sources. The government must ensure that these tax measures are implemented at arm's length from the government with the help of people who have practical experience in the sector, the people who are part of the print journalism chain of production in Canada. That is exactly why, on May 22, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism announced the creation of an advisory panel to recommend eligibility criteria for the tax measures. All that is integral to implementing these measures: looking to experts to ensure that the criteria published in the latest federal budget are precise and meet the industry's needs.

The minister mentioned that eight organizations would be invited to submit the name of a candidate for the advisory panel. They include four associations representing publishers: News Media Canada, which represents over 750 Canadian newspapers across the country; the Association de la presse francophone, which represents francophone newspapers in minority communities; the Quebec Community Newspapers Association, which represents newspapers in Quebec's anglophone communities; and the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, which represents over 450 ethnic newspapers. Also included are two unions representing newsroom employees, the Fédération nationale des communications and Unifor, and two associations representing journalists, the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec and the Canadian Association of Journalists.

These are all well-known groups, most of them with a national profile, and they represent the majority of the workers involved in the production of print news in Canada. They are in the best position to provide informed advice to ensure the fair and optimal implementation and operation of these tax measures. The Conservatives would rather have just CEOs at the table making the decisions. They think they understand the situation on the ground better than the workers. By attacking the independence of the media, the Conservatives are implying that journalists can be bought. Their conspiracy theories are insulting. When multiple MPs, some of them respected former journalists themselves, say that the press can be bought, it is frankly insulting and proves that even back then, they were in the pocket of powerful interests.

The Conservatives have a problem with journalists and the truth. Just last week, the Leader of the Opposition demonstrated a lack of respect for journalistic independence. He tried to dictate what Radio-Canada can and cannot say or do, despite the fact that 80% of Canadians support increasing funding to the public broadcaster. It certainly has to be done. We on this side of the House will always stand up for journalistic independence. It is a pillar of democracy. The media provides citizens with the information they need to make informed decisions on important issues and helps keep institutions accountable, including governments.

In closing, Canadians are entitled to consult a wide range of independent, reliable information sources, and the government has a responsibility to ensure that they have access to those sources.

Non-profit Entrepreneurship Centre May 27th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, this month, the former Juvénat Saint-Jean in Dolbeau-Mistassini began welcoming new students enrolled at the Centre spécialisé en entrepreneuriat multi-ressources.

A class of about 15 forestry entrepreneurs just started their training. This building has been renovated to house modern classrooms, boardrooms and administrative offices. To maximize the number of students who can participate, the course includes on-site room and board. Although the entrepreneurship centre is tailored to the needs of Lac-Saint-Jean, anyone from Quebec can enrol. Since this month is Forest Month, I want to offer my congratulations and best wishes to Pierre-Olivier Lussier, the director of the centre, and to all the new student entrepreneurs.

Pascal Cloutier May 14th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Forest Products Association of Canada presented Pascal Cloutier, mayor of Dolbeau-Mistassini, with the forest community champion award at its annual dinner in Vancouver. This award is presented to leaders who demonstrate support for the forestry sector and its contributions to Canada’s environmental and economic priorities.

Pascal's rich career includes work as a millwright at the Dolbeau-Mistassini paper mill, as the president of the plant’s labour union, as the president of the Alliance forêt boréale and as mayor. He is known for his commitment to finding solutions that address the interests of his community and region. He has shown remarkable dedication to promoting the sustainable harvesting of the boreal forest and defending forestry communities. It is a privilege to work with him on a daily basis in the interests of the people of Lac-Saint-Jean and Quebec.

Wine Festival May 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, last week, as a lead up to the Cépages en fête wine festival, Dolbeau-Mistassini held its 13th annual Gaspé dinner hosted by Hermel Bujold, a proud entrepreneur from the Gaspé who has been living in Lac-Saint-Jean for over 10 years. The event was an opportunity to discover the delicacies of the Gaspé region and attend a concert by our musical ambassador, Mario Pelchat, who was born in Dolbeau-Mistassini.

The second annual Cépages en fête will take place from June 13 to 15 in downtown Dolbeau-Mistassini. The festival's mission is to help people discover local wines from Lac-Saint-Jean and Quebec. Our region has an abundance of outstanding, high-quality products that are worth promoting.

I urge everyone from Lac-Saint-Jean to attend this festival marking the beginning of summer.

Small Business Week February 1st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, last week was Small Business Week, and I had the opportunity to visit a number of ridings in Quebec to meet with innovative and creative entrepreneurs. I also had the opportunity to welcome the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, Mélanie Joly, to my region of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.

Tourism operators are SMEs that contribute to the economic development of our regions. The tourism industry accounts for 8,000 jobs in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region.

My region is known as a place where people can get in touch with nature in both winter and summer. Take, for example, the indigenous tourism in the community of Mashteuiatsh, the Zoo sauvage de Saint-Félicien, the Val-Jalbert historic site and the Parc régional des Grandes-Rivières de Maria-Chapdelaine.

I am proud to represent a riding and a region that are well known for their welcoming people and natural beauty. Welcome to blueberry country.

Bike Across the Lac Saint-Jean November 30th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to an organization in my riding that recently received a tremendous honour.

Once again, Bike Across the Lac Saint-Jean beat two other finalists from across the country to win the Pursuit Adventure/Outdoors Award at the 2018 Canadian Tourism Awards.

Bike Across the Lac Saint-Jean has not been around for long, but it has already made a name for itself in the sports world and in our region's tourism industry. This award reflects just how important this event is to the Lac-Saint-Jean region.

I want to offer my sincere congratulations to all those involved in this great race, especially David Lecointre and Michel de Champlain, the general director and the president of the organization. They are making our region proud.

The 2019 edition of the event will take place in my riding from February 14 to 16, from Roberval to Péribonka. Congratulations once again.

Desjardins Maria-Chapdelaine Theatre in Dolbeau-Mistassini November 5th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, built in 2008, the theatre in Dolbeau-Mistassini is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in Quebec.

Inspired by 19th-century theatres in Europe, its smaller scale provides for a better acoustic experience. Its scarlet velvet, black and gold accents and incredible luxury all combine to create an intimate ambiance of contrasts.

Designed by architect Paul Laurendeau, the Desjardins Maria-Chapdelaine theatre in Dolbeau-Mistassini celebrated its 10th anniversary on September 29 during the Journées de la culture, or “culture days” event.

That was also when the Orchestre symphonique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean celebrated its 40th anniversary. We were therefore treated to a wonderful concert led by conductor emeritus Jacques Clément and Jacinthe Couture, with pianists and guest musicians.

Lac-Saint-Jean has a rich cultural heritage, and we are proud to have such a performance venue in our region. I again want to recognize the anniversaries of the theatre and the Orchestre symphonique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, which are both so important for showcasing our culture.