House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was industry.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Shefford (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 23% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Ending Conditional Sentences for Property and Other Serious Crimes Act October 20th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I find my colleague's position interesting. In fact, these sentences are less than two years.

Given that these sentences are less than two years and are therefore served in provincial prisons, I would like to know how much money the government is prepared to transfer to the provinces, particularly Quebec. Since Quebec is going to have to pay, has the government already talked about transferring money to fill positions? People will be needed to work in these prisons. New prisons may even have to be built. These sentences will still come under the provincial governments. If the government is prepared to build prisons in Quebec and invest money to incarcerate these people on a first offence, then we need to know. To date, we have not heard this government say even once that it was prepared to transfer money.

I would like to know whether my colleague has had any information that we have not had here today.

Criminal Code October 20th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend my three colleagues on their eloquent speeches which, more importantly, dealt directly with the issue at hand. Often, members stray from the subject of a bill, but in this instance, I think we stuck to the issue.

We mentioned prevention. Members will agree that it is all fine and well to talk about ways to repress new offences, but the fact remains that the only aspect that was neglected was prevention.

Prevention is also an important aspect. Looking into prevention would already go a long way toward stopping repression and stopping crime. As I said earlier in my speech, without prevention, things are allowed to continue and they will not improve over time.

I would like to hear my hon. colleague on the issue of prevention. I think this is an important objective for a bill.

Criminal Code October 20th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague. In my view, she did a good job of defining the problem we have been discussing for two hours.

For the past two hours, we have been dealing with limitations in the Criminal Code. But, the problem is not only those limitations as such. It is also that, due to the limitations, gathering the evidence needed to recover the money under the Criminal Code is much more problematic than if the money were recovered through the provinces. It would be much easier for people to recover the money they lost if they did it through the provinces.

Therefore, the problem is perfectly defined. But, we know very well that not encroaching on provincial jurisdictions is not the strong point of the government. If the government could solve all problems across Canada without involving the provinces and if it could manage all provinces while turning its back on them, it would be, in my view, as successful as it hopes to be. But, this is not the case, and we will not let the government act that way.

That is why the Bloc Québécois is a sovereigntist party defending the interests of Quebec.

Criminal Code October 20th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I will answer my colleague, who is also vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. One of these days, ways of dealing with this problem should end up before that committee, of which I am also a member.

Yes, it is important. I touched on it earlier. When the government wants to promote all the measures it wants to implement, it will stop at nothing. We saw the government spend $100,000 recently just for one announcement. Therefore, if it has that kind of money for self-promotion, it should have enough money to inform the public on how it can protect itself. That is the first thing.

The second thing is that businesses should also be informed. Not only do they need information, but they also need training. How to dispose of personal documents from people who buy things from them or have other dealings with them? I could give all kinds of examples, such as buying clothes. People can buy things on the Internet. If we could provide training and information and raise awareness, I think that we would be in a much better position to eliminate this problem and we could do other things.

Criminal Code October 20th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I think that my colleague understands and has defined the issue very well. That is the problem. We often hear the old saying: Do as I say and not as I do. The government gives us a good example of that since it tells us not to do something that it does itself.

I thank my colleague because it is true that in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada, more social insurance numbers were issued than there are people. That is a scourge we are not through with. The fact is that not only does the government give out more SINs than there are people, but we know that there are also forgers and that SINs are like gold and sell very well.

How could the government, which knows that SINs are like gold, issue a surplus of 2.9 million of them?

I cannot imagine that there is nobody in the department and in the government who can assume the responsibility to check what is done and tell us how they will eliminate this problem.

Criminal Code October 20th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill. I believe it is a good bill, and the Bloc Québécois supports it. All members in this House agree that this bill should have been passed at least 10 years ago.

For those of us who are just joining us on television, I would like to talk about the three new offences created in this bill.

The first offence involves obtaining and possessing identity information with the intent to use the information deceptively, dishonestly or fraudulently in the commission of a crime.

The second involves trafficking in identity information, an offence that targets those who transfer or sell information to another person, with knowledge of or recklessness as to the possible criminal use of the information.

The third involves unlawfully possessing or trafficking in government-issued identity documents that contain information of another person. These three offences are the most common in our system.

Furthermore, this bill would add a new power permitting the court to order, as part of a sentence, that an offender—and this is the best part—be required to pay restitution to a victim of identity theft. Not only can the offender be sentenced to prison, but he must also pay restitution to the victim. All of the expenses incurred by a victim of identity theft can be reimbursed by the criminal himself. That is important, and worth noting.

I would add that the Privacy Commissioner said the same thing. I will quote her further on. This is particularly important because she has made a number of calls for changes to the Criminal Code so that we can more effectively fight identity theft. She herself has said that this tool is not very effective.

She said:

I don't think it's just an issue of the Criminal Code. As you know, our law administrators hesitate to use the Criminal Code: the standards of proof are higher, and the charter may apply, and so very often you have to have a fairly clear-cut case to use the Criminal Code.

She goes on to say:

Civil sanctions are very easy to prove and easy for citizens, for example, to take to small claims courts, which may provide a more easily accessible deterrent to the growing industry of ID theft. This means, of course, that I think the federal government has to work closely with the provinces, because a lot of what happens in terms of ID theft falls within provincial jurisdiction.

This is where it gets important. If offenders are forced to reimburse the victims whose identity they have stolen, by dealing directly with the courts of each province, this would make things much easier for us, and it would be easier for the victims to get their money back. By going through a provincial court, like small claims court for example, which can hear cases up to $7,000, if I am not mistaken, the offender can be ordered immediately to reimburse the victim.

I certainly understand how this list of new offences created might seem repressive, but the fact remains that we have not addressed the idea of prevention.

Prevention is important to the Bloc Québécois. Why? Because regulations allow us to better manage the storage and retrieval of the information held by businesses. As well, the government should take additional measures when it comes to amendments regarding identity theft. What other measures could be added? How does someone have their identity stolen? I understand that personal identification can be stolen using someone's PIN, by copying or stealing someone's credit card, or at an ATM.

The fact remains, however, that many businesses do not take good enough care of the documentation and personal information submitted to them. For instance, I am sure everyone has read about ID documents found in the trash in an alley behind a convenience store, because employees decided to throw away their copies of credit card statements. Drugstores have also thrown away all sorts of information. Businesses that manage our personal assets are not as careful as we are. We can protect our personal information. We have PINs. I am sure every one of us is very careful when using a PIN, a credit card or any other document.

When we are at the mercy of businesses that are not careful, we can be in big trouble, and the resulting process can take a very long time. You realize, for example, that the balance in your bank account is lower than it should be or that someone has used your credit card, and you do not know how it could have happened. You learn that your personal documents have been found in a trashcan and used by criminals to obtain other credit cards and get more money. It is easy for a criminal who knows someone's date of birth and social insurance number to open a bank account under that person's name. It is very easy. With all the right information, it is even possible to obtain a line of credit by phone and use it to make withdrawals. Therefore, it is important that businesses be as careful as we are with our personal information.

In a future bill, we should really consider introducing prevention at the level of businesses. I am not speaking of just small businesses. How many others have contributed to identity theft? Banks have lost personal information. Information is stolen or accessed by hackers from other businesses. They readily admit that millions of dollars have been stolen from them. In the end, everyone pays because the banks are not saddled with the loss. The loss is written off and that is that. We continue to pay for those who do not protect our identity.

We should really examine this issue and do something in terms of legislation to protect people against those who are not careful with our personal information. This does not affect just the private sector. If that were the case, it would be another matter. The government also referred to all the questions asked about this bill but what has been happening with this government? As one of my colleagues was saying, with regard to government, in June 2006—which is not so long ago and we know who was in power then—,the auditor general estimated that there were 2.9 million too many social insurance numbers circulating. That is not a small number. We are not talking about 10,000 or 100,000, which would still be too many.

How can the government have 2.9 million more social insurance numbers in circulation than the estimated number of Canadians who are 30 and older? Do you see the paradox? We are prepared to find and punish, in some way, people who steal the identities of others. Yet, the government is immune from all that.

That figure of 2.9 million is quite something. How much identity theft occurs in one day? The figures are probably appalling. We could report the statistics but businesses will never admit to having had the personal information of 100,000 people stolen from them.

No one will admit to it because any trust in these companies would then be lost. Follow-up by companies is all the more important if the government does its own. What has the government done since 2006 about the extra 2.9 million social insurance numbers? Nothing. We have not even heard a peep about that.

For those listening, this has to be appalling. How can one have any confidence when hearing about bills to protect society when our own government cannot even ensure our protection? That is not all. In 2004, when the Liberals were in power, the Minister of Transport was questioned at length about items, supplies or uniforms that I can list.

In 2004, the media reported that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, for which the greatest efforts are made to ensure its protection, had lost the control over its uniforms. Between January and September 2004, of approximately 75,000 uniform items that had been distributed to some 4,000 screeners, a total of 1,127 items were reported lost or stolen, including 91 shields, 78 shirts, 30 windbreakers, and 25 sweaters, all of which bore the agency's logo. According to the CBC, some uniform items were even offered to the highest bidder on eBay, an online auction site.

It is one thing to ask something of others, but it is another to ask the same of oneself. That is what the public wants governments to do: stop imposing things they themselves do not do. That is where it should start. They do not do prevention work and they keep taking the easy way out, by imposing prison terms. The same sentence would apply to those who have committed this offence. However, we are already hearing about people serving one sixth of their sentence, something that is causing discontent among political parties and that the Bloc Québécois had been denouncing. It is all fine and well to say that a five-year minimum sentence was handed down, but for a first offence, the time to be served is two months, and one sixth of that full sentence means that, after a few short days of imprisonment, the offender is free again. Moreover, those who remained in custody pending trial might be done serving their sentence and be released immediately following trial.

What message do we want to send the public? First, care must be taken, which makes a lot of sense. Second, the public expects the government also to use care with respect to personal documents it keeps or issues because, with a social insurance number, it is easy to take someone else's name, let alone to falsify information.

Today, computers make everything possible. The Internet is used for phishing. For example, people are fooled with logos into giving their PIN. Many things can be done to start with, and the first is to inform people. When I see the government spending $100,000 just to advertise the programs it is setting up, I know it is perfectly capable of spending some money on informing the public about the way to protect personal information. That is one thing. But, there is also a way for companies to protect the information they receive from us.

After a credit card transaction at the convenience store, we keep a paper copy. But, what do we do after two years? We want to get rid of it. The easiest way is to throw it in the garbage. That is why the example that keeps coming back in the House of Commons is the garbage can.

Some people have nothing to do but search through garbage cans to find these documents. They line their pockets because someone did not dispose securely of personal documents belonging to somebody else. I am sure that such a person would act otherwise with his own personal information. That person would not leave a piece of paper with information on a credit card transaction lying around; he would throw it in the garbage. However, we need to educate people to show them that someone else might have to live with the consequences and could be in greater trouble.

Let us take the example of a student who lost his wallet. Everyone knows that students do not have pots of money. Their bank accounts are always nearly empty. If a student trusts the convenience store and someone at the store manages to empty his bank account where he had the money to pay his university fees, the student will be faced with a rude awakening. Really, awareness among those people must be raised.

The appropriate solution would be an advertising campaign to raise awareness. However, it is also important to train people working in businesses. Employees need to be shown how to dispose of these documents.

I sat on the committee that looked at the documents pertaining to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. I wanted to include a clause in the bill that would fine businesses that were caught leaving documents belonging to other people in alleys, garbage containers or elsewhere. It is important not only that businesses be made aware, but that they be punished for thoughtlessly leaving documents where anyone can find them.

I was told that this was not a good solution and that businesses should install shredders instead. One of my colleagues even went so far as to suggest conducting a study on shredders. I believe that Parliament has more important things to do than conduct a study on shredders or how to dispose of personal documents belonging to other people. I believe that that was taking matters a bit too far.

However, I do feel that we can take other bills further. This is a good bill. It is a start. We had to start somewhere, and this bill is a step in the right direction, but we must carry on and not rest on our laurels and say that three new offences have been introduced to solve the problem. This bill will not solve the problem. It will address the problem of people's wallets being stolen, but we should go further with a new bill that allows victims of identity theft to go to small claims court to recover lost money from people who stole their identity and withdrew money from their account. I believe that that would be a good thing, and it should be in a new bill.

In closing, I will say that I am in favour of this bill. I do not see why we could not propose new initiatives in a new bill and really raise awareness among members of the public and businesses.

Criminal Code October 20th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, if my colleague had wanted to include, in this bill, a measure to make things tougher for identity thieves, what specific measure would he have come up with?

Criminal Code October 20th, 2009

Madam Speaker, that is the answer I was expecting from my colleague. I understand that the bill was studied in committee and debated in the Senate and that a lot of documents were submitted, but that was done internally. I am very familiar with the bill but I am thinking of those who are at home. A year has gone by already. Many things can happen in a year.

Why do we not give people enough time to understand what we are discussing today? It is easy for us to say that we have been talking about the same bill for a year. We studied it here and in committee, we received all kinds of documents, we are ready, of course, and we want to move on to other things. It seems very important to me to give people enough time to become familiar with what we are debating today and to come to a conclusion, namely that this is a good piece of legislation. But for that, they have to understand it.

I would like my learned colleague to confirm that, indeed, people have to be able to understand this bill. We understand it, that is one thing, but others have to understand it too.

Criminal Code October 20th, 2009

Madam Speaker, I think it is commendable that they are willing to move quickly and to have a bill passed quickly. But the member forgets that he is not the only one concerned. There are people at home watching us on television, and these people want to understand this bill, because it affects them personally. He spoke about identity theft, and that affects the people watching us at home today.

Why does the member want to rush things without allowing viewers to listen to us and truly understand this bill? He would rather act quickly and dispose of this bill, so he can move on to something else. That is my question for the member.

Science and Technology October 19th, 2009

Mr. Speaker, October 16 to 25 is Science and Technology Week and it will be celebrated today on Parliament Hill.

This event, which brings together representatives from government, industry and the academic world, showcases activities across Canada to make young people aware of the opportunities available in science and technology.

While a number of companies are here to present their achievements, one has to wonder if this government truly understands the challenges surrounding scientific research and its funding. In fact, this government has some purely ideological criteria, objectives and directions when it comes to funding. Led by a creationist minister who does not believe in evolution and who has been called upon to step down, in particular by ACFAS—the Association canadienne-française pour l'avancement des sciences, this government's policy on science and technology is far from credible.

The Bloc Québécois will see that this partisan interference ends, and will also see to it that Quebec gets its fair share of research funding, with no strings attached.