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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was however.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Trois-Rivières (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 17% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply April 29th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am always interested in what my colleague has to say. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject.

I would like to take this a bit further. When we talk about lobbying, we are talking about a legal activity. I do not want to put words in his mouth and I have my own thoughts on this. When we talk about lobbying, of course there is lobbying by all the major corporations, but there are also interest groups that organize to lobby the government.

How is it that groups that have demonstrated for major changes to employment insurance, for instance, have never won?

When different points are raised about bringing in a pharmacare program, why do the pharmaceutical companies win and not the interest groups?

There are examples of this when it comes to the environment, but I am running out of time. I want to hear from my colleague.

Why is it always the major corporations who win?

Business of Supply April 29th, 2019

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

I must say, there is one question I have been dying to ask all day. I will take my chances with my colleague from the Quebec City area.

When we ask about the $12 million given to Loblaws, the response we often get is that it was part of a standardized program. That is not the question. The member is probably in the same situation as me. Regardless of the salary we have earned throughout our lives, we always have more ideas about ways to spend money than actual money to spend on them.

The truly fundamental question is this: If the government really believes this is about fighting greenhouse gases effectively, why, with a limited budget, would it choose to give $12 million to someone who does not need it and who would have found a way to contribute without help from the government?

Petitions April 29th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, keenly aware that the 42nd Parliament is coming to an end, the people of Trois-Rivières still want to make their voices heard as they call on the government to announce a high-frequency rail project that would contribute to regional economic development, help reduce greenhouse gases and make it much easier to travel between cities.

Public Safety April 29th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, our thoughts are with all those in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick who are affected by the floods.

Unfortunately, we know that with climate change this is only going to keep happening and that the map of flood-prone areas is outdated in many places. A $200-million fund was made available to the provinces to address this problem. To date, Quebec has not benefited from it.

Will the federal government promise to work with the provinces to ensure that the program meets their needs and, most importantly, that money is kept available for as long as necessary?

Expungement of Certain Cannabis-related Convictions Act April 11th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I must humbly admit that something happened to me here yesterday that has never happened to me before, and I will probably remember it for the rest of my life.

Perhaps others have experienced something similar, such as thinking, for whatever reason, a Thursday was actually a Friday. They may have gone through their day as though it were well and truly Friday. Despite plenty of indications to the contrary, they may have been convinced it was Friday. Well, this week, I was slated to deliver two speeches in the House, one on Bill C-419 and the other on Bill C-415. For reasons that elude me still, the speech I gave yesterday was on the wrong subject. It was such a remarkably passionate and compelling speech that none of my fellow MPs on either side of the House thought it appropriate to rise and tell me that I was mistakenly talking about the wrong bill. I would have appreciated it if they had. If I were full of myself, I might choose to believe that people were hanging on my every word and wanted nothing but to hear what I might say next. Maybe they were just busy doing other things.

It still holds true that one cannot fix a mistake by repeating it. This evening, I will not speak about the credit card bill, although I really wanted to do so yesterday. I have been interested in this issue for years, even in the previous Parliament when I was the critic. If I may, I would like to extend my most sincere apologies to the member for Lethbridge, who is the bill's sponsor. I truly wanted to speak about her bill, because there is a lot to say. Moreover, I was previously a teacher and I have seen the consequences for all young people who, as they move from high school to college, are offered credit cards when they are not necessarily equipped to understand all the conditions of credit cards, which now are probably just as essential to Canadians as phones. It is impossible to make a reservation or to shop online without a credit card. To have one is one thing. To know how to use it wisely is another. Knowing the limits and all the terms and conditions is yet another. I am talking about credit cards, which I did not want to do. Once again, I apologize to my colleague from Lethbridge. I can assure her that I will be pleased to support her bill at second reading.

That said, I will come back to the topic on the agenda this evening, the bill introduced by my colleague from Victoria, someone I truly admire, as I told him yesterday. He has the ability to simplify a relatively complex situation and make it easier for everyone to understand. I gave a passionate speech and provided examples of people from my riding who are dealing with this problem as we speak. The Liberals' bill is not going to fix the situation. What is more, it is not likely to receive royal assent before the end of this Parliament. It is just smoke and mirrors. The government is not offering any solution to an issue that I believe is easily and very clearly resolved in the proposed bill from my colleague from Victoria.

My colleague has had the opportunity to review the blues and to familiarise himself with the speech I gave yesterday. It would be rather redundant of me to repeat ad nauseam the story that some of my colleagues may have heard during my moment of confusion. I will wrap it up since I had the chance to say what I wanted to say about this bill. Obviously, I will support the bill introduced by my colleague from Victoria.

I would now like to yield the floor to him as quickly as possible so he can draw this to a logical conclusion and try, along with me and everyone who spoke before me, to convince the Liberal government of the soundness of his arguments with respect to the bill this government has brought before us.

Credit Card Fairness Act April 10th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, it always a pleasure to rise to support a colleague's bill, especially when that colleague is the hon. member for Victoria. I admire the way he manages files and provides pertinent answers to our questions when we are discussing the matter with him. I must admit, he has a talent for getting to the heart of the issue.

One thing that is seriously starting to grate on me after nearly eight years in the House of Commons is having to say that a bill is a step in the right direction. It is as though we are never able to fully resolve an issue and close a file and say that the matter is resolved and we can tackle another problem and find the best solutions.

That is exactly what the member for Victoria has done with this bill, however; he even stated what he sadly cannot do within the confines of a private member's bill. Nevertheless, he still very much hopes that Bill C-415 will get the ball rolling and motivate the government to either add what he was not able to include and pass this bill or, alternatively, overhaul Bill C-93, the counterpart of this bill that, to my mind, is not up to snuff.

After speaking with my colleague from Victoria, I was preparing a theoretical and even intellectual presentation on the merits of expunging records for simple possession of cannabis compared to the suspension of records. However, reality caught up with me in my riding. I will therefore provide an overview of a case I had to deal with in my own riding and which clearly shows, in black and white, that the government's Bill C-93 does not go far enough and that Bill C-415 really does take a step in the right direction. I do not believe you could find a better example.

I got a phone call from one of my constituents who was in a bit of a panic. Actually, it was a complete panic. I will not name names or say anything that would give away this person's identity, but he is a musician. I have a soft spot for those in the music business because I was a musician myself for many years. This particular musician is on an international tour with a band. They have played in England, several European countries, and many cities across Canada. Now the band is set to play 15 or 20 American cities. Things are going well. It is probably the best tour of this musician's career. A musician's life is not necessarily easy and it is not always a very lucrative career either. Artists really have to have a strong conviction that they are making an essential contribution to society.

Everything is going well for this musician. The whole group, both the musicians and the trucks with the equipment, arrive at the American border. They fill out the necessary paperwork and cross the border. Everyone gets through no problem except for this individual, because border officials saw that he had been charged with simple marijuana possession 25 years ago for one gram of cannabis that he forgot was in his pocket. He is barred from entering the U.S. The band is supposed to play 15 to 20 shows in the United States and they have just lost one of their musicians. They either have to find a replacement or cancel that leg of the international tour because this individual was charged for the possession of one gram of marijuana 25 years ago.

Obviously, the conviction happened 25 years ago and it is on his record. It is not difficult to imagine how someone could forget this after 25 years. It is kind of laughable, especially since society has evolved in the meantime.

This musician is therefore unable to do the tour. He called me to ask how this situation could be fixed as quickly as possible so that he could join the band for the rest of the American tour, since this record did not cause problems anywhere else in the world.

There are all kinds of conditions that you have to meet. You cannot request a pardon until at least five years have passed since the conviction. After 20 years, that condition is fairly easy to meet. Then, you must pay $631 to apply. Whether this amount is high or not high enough is a matter of perspective, as it is directly linked to the individual's annual income. For a musician, $631 could easily represent one or two shows where he is working for the Crown and not for his family or himself. In addition, he has to track down certain documents, like police reports and legal documents. This takes time, and deciding whether he can continue the tour is a time-sensitive decision.

To top it all off, you have to wait 24 months for a response. There is your answer for the American part of the tour. This is a real problem, since Parliament decided this was no longer a relevant issue in 2019. We legalized simple possession of marijuana. The whole time that this government was preparing the legislation, it never bothered to consider what would happen the day after this bill passed.

How do we make sure that a crime that is not considered a crime anymore no longer weighs on people who committed it in the past? If society has evolved to the point of recognizing marijuana as legal, there is no reason in the world to make people suffer permanently for doing something that is no longer seen as a crime. However, their records live on.

If we go with the record suspension approach proposed in the government's Bill C-93, it would be too little, too late, because the suspension would not make the criminal record disappear. The name says it all. The record is suspended. I will admit that the government is showing openness by eliminating the fee to apply for a record suspension. In contrast, the process of expungement is very clear. With expungement, all existing files relating to the conviction are erased, and the slate is wiped clean, as if the crime had ever happened. That also enables anyone with such a conviction on their record to answer “no” with perfect confidence and honesty whenever they are asked if they have a criminal record, because the record has basically disappeared and the offence is deemed never to have been committed. That is an important difference proposed in Bill C-415.

My time is almost up. I had so much more to talk about, but the case I mentioned is probably more compelling than anything I could say. I urge all members to make sure they really understand the difference between expungement and suspension and to support the bill introduced by my colleague from Victoria.

Petitions April 10th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, the people of Trois-Rivières are a tenacious bunch. That is why they are still coming out in droves to sign the petition calling for rail service to return to Trois-Rivières. They believe rail service will make it easier to travel to other cities, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and help develop the local economy and tourism.

Transportation April 10th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, for months the ferry crossing between Matane and the North Shore has been a nightmare for users and the economy of the Lower St. Lawrence, Gaspé, and the North Shore. Worse yet, it seems that the ferry was not safe for Quebeckers. Following a recent accident involving the Apollo ferry, the inspector from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the TSB, deemed a Transport Canada certified ship to be unsafe.

Can the Prime Minister explain how Transport Canada could certify a ferry that the TSB deemed unseaworthy?

Rail Transportation April 9th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, while Trois-Rivières is still waiting for an announcement on the high-frequency rail project, Transport Canada is funding a feasibility study on the Hyperloop project in Canada. Transport Canada has yet to publish the results of the studies on the HFR. The Hyperloop project is decades away from practical application, while the HFR is closer to reality.

Since the minister is currently exploring the future, could he get back in his DeLorean, return to 2019 and tell us whether there is a high-frequency rail project on the horizon?

Criminal Records Act April 8th, 2019

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

The part where he referred to youthful indiscretion really caught my attention. There was a time not so long ago when it was illegal to use or possess marijuana. When someone was caught for possession of marijuana, most people thought it was a minor crime that did not require major investment and could be overlooked.

Today, it is entirely legal. It is no longer a matter of youthful indiscretion, since it is now possible to use or possess marijuana.

Since we are no longer talking about youthful indiscretion, does my colleague agree that we should not just suspend records, but expunge them?