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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was first.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Copyright Modernization Act October 18th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his wonderful speech, which was so heartfelt and passionate. We, on this side of the House, have always been open and we remain so today. That is how the NDP works, by reaching out.

I was wondering if the hon. member could give us one example of a change he sees as necessary for this bill.

Aboriginal Affairs October 5th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Sisters in Spirit held vigils all across Canada including here on Parliament Hill. Thousands of people of all backgrounds gathered to honour the lives of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.

We in the aboriginal community have seen hundreds upon hundreds of our mothers, sisters, cousins, daughters and granddaughters fall victim to violence and disrespect. We must remember that these victims are not only ours, they are also the friends, neighbours, partners and co-workers of all Canadians.

As the duly elected legislators of this country, we must come together to end this scourge. We owe it to the 600 victims we remembered yesterday and their grieving families. We owe it to all the women and girls who have yet to fall victim. We owe it to people like our daughters.

As October is Women's History Month, we have a rare chance before us to act. We have a chance to change the course of history of Canada's aboriginal women. In that spirit, I call upon the government to call a full national inquiry to--

Safe Streets and Communities Act September 22nd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate the parliamentary secretary on her admirable defence.

I would like to ask the same question as the person who preceded me on this side of the House, since the hon. member did not answer the question. I know this government prides itself on being a responsible government. I would like to know the additional costs associated with this bill. I also want to know what percentage of the cost of the bill will be downloaded to the provinces.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Manicouagan for his excellent presentation and philosophical approach.

A number of years ago, when Preston Manning led a previous iteration of the Conservative party, he said that Canada had too many immigrants. A caricature appeared in the Globe and Mail of an aboriginal grand chief with his arms crossed saying, “My words exactly”.

I would say to the member for Manicouagan that this is not an accurate portrayal of Aboriginals today. The generosity shown by Aboriginals to those who first came here still underpins the philosophy of the First Nations and has long been the philosophy of our party, the NDP, on this side of the House.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague very much for his question.

One of the things that they do not seem to realize on the other side of the House is the fact that we already have democratic institutions in this country that deal with the situations they are currently concerned about. There are institutions that respond to their concerns, so why are they attacking the poor and vulnerable victims in this bill? This is what is most disturbing.

There is a concept in this country called the rule of law and this bill seems to be taking us away even from that. Canada’s international obligations are very clear of course. As a result of signing the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Canada’s obligations are clear. The Charter of the United Nations, and last time I checked Canada was a signatory to the Charter of the United Nations, calls on Canada to respect all human rights, the rights of every person. Again, this bill is taking us away from that great principle of international law.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his very relevant question.

I think this would be one of the problems. It was noted earlier in the debate that this will be one of the fundamental problems with this bill. Not obstructing family reunification is an absolutely essential factor that must reflect the generosity of this country. Let us stop being afraid of immigrants, let us stop being afraid of the others. We know that people are always afraid of the others. Canadian citizens are even afraid of certain other Canadian citizens if they see photographs of them, on Facebook for example, with a leader of a party other than their own.

This trend is disturbing. We really have to start getting away from this kind of approach in this country we call Canada, since it does not deserve that reputation.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, as this is my first chance to rise in this new session, I want to welcome you and all of my colleagues back to this place. It is good to see everyone and I look forward to our passionate discussions in debates to come.

Today I rise to debate Bill C-4 or, as the Conservative government has dubbed it, the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act.

When I started to read the bill, I must admit that I had an odd feeling of déjà vu. The name of the bill reminded me of a movie title that really has nothing to do with the movie itself; it seems out of place and even misleading. With its name, one might think that the bill would be straightforward and do what its name says, that is, prevent human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system. Sadly, the bill will not do that.

As written, the bill misses the mark. It takes square aim at the victims of human smuggling, the vulnerable and the poor, those who are desperate to seek a better life and to escape the horrors of oppression, poverty, discrimination and mortal danger. We in the NDP do not believe that the solution to this, or any other problem for that matter, is to punish the victim.

The bill as worded would create two separate categories of refugee claimants. As such, it is discriminatory and a violation of charter equality rights and the refugee convention, which it clearly does. However, these facts do not seem to bother the government so far.

Let me point to more issues that I have with the bill as it stands.

Under this proposed legislation, we see that designated claimants could not apply for permanent residency for five years. Furthermore, if the person fails to comply with the conditions or reporting requirements, this five year suspension can be extended to six years.

This proposed rule applies both to those accepted as refugees and those have been refused or who never make a claim. For accepted refugees, the worst consequence is that this rule would delay reunification with spouses and children overseas for five years. These families have already suffered a great deal, but with this proposal the government seems bent on adding to their suffering.

We in the New Democratic Party have known for a long time that the Conservative government has not been very concerned about family reunification, but this adds to the lack of empathy on the government's part.

The Conservatives state that this bill will result in a reduction in human trafficking. But in reality, in its present form, the bill concentrates too much power in the hands of the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and unfairly penalizes the refugees. By contrast, the NDP wants to directly penalize the criminals: the traffickers and the smugglers. As it presently stands, the bill punishes legitimate refugees and those trying to help them. The proposed process is not clear, and it may be arbitrary and even discriminatory in the extreme.

Parliament just approved a strong and balanced refugee law a few months ago. What we need now is better enforcement. The Conservatives should be less focused on photo ops and more focused on enforcing the laws against human smuggling that we already have and give the RCMP the resources it needs to get the job done, instead of playing politics.

An attempt to play politics is precisely what this is. I am just getting to know many of my colleagues in this place from all across our great country and from all parties so I do feel pretty safe saying that many here in this room are either descendants of people who fled persecution and strife elsewhere in the world or have done so themselves.

When the masses of people from England and France came to this colder end of North America for the first time, many came to escape tyranny and persecution, and to seek a better life that was not available to them in their homelands. Those new arrivals, along with many first nations of this land, came together to be the founding nations of the country that we have today.

Our country is not always perfect but it is a shining beacon to the world, which is exactly why so many people are willing to risk their lives to come here, and that is precisely the point. By punishing the refugees who come here by such desperate means, the government will not reduce the desire of people from around the world to keep trying to come here. People will continue to want to come to Canada because of the greatness of this country. As long as we are this great and caring nation, people will continue to want to come and be part of it.

We should not punish those desperate refugees. We should punish the people who are trying to take advantage of their desperation. We must remember that the name of the bill is preventing human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system.

My New Democratic colleagues and I call on the government to do as the bill's title says, go after the human smugglers, and do not punish the innocent refugees who are simply seeking what so many generations before us came to this country to seek, which is a better life and a future for their children and families.

Under this bill, designated claimants, including children, will automatically be detained when they arrive or at the moment they are so designated. Children! Detained! How does detaining children solve anything?

Moreover, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada will not move to review the detention for a year. People can be released only if it is established that they are refugees. The board orders their release after a year; even then, it cannot release them if the government is of the view that their identities are not established or if the minister determines that there are exceptional circumstances.

In my opinion, this is a clear violation of the charter. We know that the Supreme Court of Canada has already put a stop to mandatory detention without a review of the security certificate. These provisions will result in indefinite detentions in identity issues with no possibility of release until the minister determines that identity has been established. Arbitrary detention is also a serious breach of international treaties. We are therefore asking this government to drop this bill.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act September 20th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska on his remarks. I would like to know more about the way in which the provisions of this bill would infringe on the basic rights of the people who could be victimized. Can the hon. member give us some examples of the basic rights that would be affected by this bill?

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it was indeed an important program. The trend set when the government changed the program and imposed new rules was like what they are trying to do with what we are dealing with here today. I do not accept that.

What needs to be done in this particular program for the north, which is so important, is that the government should sit down with the first nations people, the service providers, the chambers of commerce in the different regions, and so on and so forth, and iron out something that will suit everybody and make everybody happy. That is not happening.

Restoring Mail Delivery for Canadians Act June 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I understood the comment, but I also understood the accusation of hypocrisy. That is what I understood.

So I would like to go back to a few points that I mentioned in my speech. I believe it is essential to go back to the real issues of this debate that we have been having here for several days.

It is very easy to end this stalemate. We have suggested some courses of action, and the Conservatives can accept them now.