House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was conservatives.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2015, with 23% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Public Safety March 5th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the security of Canadians is obviously a priority for everyone. However, surprise workplace visits from CSIS officers can have very serious repercussions for the people involved, even if the intent is only to gather information.

According to an access to information request, this policy has not been reviewed in over six years. Honest Canadians are rightly concerned about the unfair repercussions of such visits.

Will the government review and update this policy to properly respond to Canadians' concerns?

Public Safety March 2nd, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the government is running out of excuses to try to save face. The Conservatives seem to forget that international law is unambiguous. Torture is illegal, period.

What the Conservatives are proposing is tantamount to giving the green light to all the regimes that want to use torture, with information sent from this government to boot. Canadians expect their government to oppose torture unconditionally.

When will the minister reverse his decision and cancel this directive?

Justice February 29th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' senseless crime bill will come with equally senseless costs. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that the average cost per offender will be 16 times higher. Even worse, correctional supervision will be available for fewer offenders. The upshot: the Conservatives want Canadians to pay more to be less safe. It makes no sense.

Is this really what the Conservatives want, for Canadians to pay more to be less safe?

Justice February 28th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, Canadians want real answers, not empty rhetoric. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has shown that just one of the provisions in Bill C-10 will cost Quebec $40 million.

The Conservatives want to pass the cost on to Quebec. Even worse, the bill is completely ineffective. Quebec will pay more and put fewer criminals behind bars.

Given that Quebec and many other provinces have already said that they will not pay, who is going to foot the bill?

New Democratic Party February 28th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, during the last election, Quebeckers turned their backs on a Conservative Party mired in scandal and they turned their backs on the Liberal Party, the sponsorship party—two parties that care more about the old ways of doing politics than they do about concrete action. Quebeckers voted for the NDP because they trust our party to get things done. Unfortunately, nothing has changed within the old parties: the Conservatives' election fraud and the Liberals' illicit Twitter attacks prove this. Fortunately, the NDP is here to get things done.

Again yesterday, thanks to the leadership of the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer, the NDP took concrete action to achieve Shannen's dream. Thanks to the NDP, we are one step closer to a Canada in which every child in every community has the right to the high quality education they truly deserve. Enough with the scandals. Quebeckers and Canadians can count on us. Let us work together. That is how the NDP is getting things done. That is what the NDP is doing as the opposition—

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 16th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry introduced Bill C-350, which makes offenders accountable for their obligations to society, to their family and to victims.

This legislation was originally introduced on September 28, 2010, as Bill C-292. That bill also sought to make offenders accountable, so that they would fulfill their obligations to society. Therefore, that objective was added to section 3 of Corrections and Conditional Release Act . Under Bill C-292, if an inmate was awarded money following a legal action or proceeding, the government would seize that money and split it equally between the beneficiaries of a restitution order, a child or spousal support order, and a civil judgment against the offender.

If the offender had no obligation or debt to these people, he still could not get the monetary award, which was distributed to organizations that help victims or to other similar entities. This bill did not make any sense then, because if, for example, an inmate was abused in jail and then compensated following a civil proceeding, he still could not get the money, even though he had no obligation to his family or to the persons I mentioned.

Consequently, the bill was significantly improved. In the case of Bill C-350, the obligation to distribute the money that the inmate would receive has been removed and that money is now given to him. So in this sense it is an improvement.

We can think of other examples. This is not just about people who suffer abuse in jail. It could be a reckless driver who was responsible for an accident causing death and who received compensation through the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec. This bill would also have allowed the government to seize this compensation and redistribute in accordance with the priority list in Bill C-350.

The previous version of Bill C-350 was amended. The responsibility of offenders regarding their obligations remains the bill's primary objective. However, Bill C-350 seems more specific in certain respects than Bill C-292 was. First, it indicates in a more concise fashion who would get part of the compensation received by an inmate. An order of priorities is set: first, the money owed by the offender pursuant to a spousal or child support order will be given to his family, then the money owed by him pursuant to a restitution order, followed by civil judgments and fines.

The compensation will no longer be paid in equal parts, as stipulated in Bill C-292. It will instead be pro-rated in the manner described in Bill C-350. If there are any remaining funds, they will be paid to the inmate. I should think that the inmate would be entitled to the money. This provision is different from the one in Bill C-292 because of concerns about areas of jurisdiction. The remainder of the obligations set out in Bill C-350 are pre-existing legal obligations. By listing these rights, the bill seems to do a better job of addressing the priority of claims. However, the priority of claims also falls under provincial jurisdiction.

It is our belief, therefore, that this bill contains relevant provisions such as the protection of families and victims. All members of society must be held accountable for their obligations, and that obviously includes prisoners. Being incarcerated in no way removes the inmate's obligations and responsibilities. An inmate must still meet the needs of his family and, obviously, comply with child and spousal support orders.

Compensation is of equal importance for victims. According to the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, in the eyes of the law, a victim is a person who has suffered physical or psychological harm as a result of a crime. Family members, legal guardians and dependents are considered victims when the victim is deceased or when the victim is a child or a person who is unable to act on his own behalf by reason of an illness or disability.

The victims’ compensation scheme was established not only to make restitution to victims, but also to compensate for any financial losses resulting from the crime. Victims may require all manner of care in order to recover. For example, we can think of medical expenses and psychological support.

The purpose of the principle of restorative justice is also to ensure that the victim is not victimized a second time. Consequently, making restitution means that the victim will have no need to navigate the judicial process a second time in order to receive restitution. This process, therefore, forces the victim to demonstrate that the harm suffered by him resulted from the crime.

Victims and victims groups have been calling for some time for legislative provisions of this nature that would force inmates to comply with family support and restitution orders. This was referred to in a document written by the solicitor general dated 1987.

We are also pleased to see that the bill identifies priorities and that support payments will be at the top of the list. The Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime made the following recommendations in the report entitled “Toward a Greater Respect for Victims in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act”:

That the Government of Canada amend paragraph 133(3) of the CCRA to include a necessity for conditions to ensure offenders fulfill their court ordered sentences, including restitution and victim fine surcharges.

That the Government of Canada amend subsection 78(2) of the CCRA to authorize the CSC to deduct reasonable amounts from an offender's earnings to satisfy any outstanding restitution or victim fine surcharge orders.

Still, this legislation is not perfect. In my opinion, the problem with this bill is that it creates two civil law systems: one for prisoners and the other for the rest of society. The protection of the law applies to all citizens, including prisoners. In civil law, there are provisions that force individuals to repay their debts. For example, salaries may be garnished to force an individual to pay child support. However, there is a big difference between existing provisions and this bill.

Unfortunately, the government cannot intervene to enforce court orders, thereby circumventing the courts. The government cannot take over the courts' role in the justice system. For example, in the case of support payments, the family must take the case to a civil court and go through the normal justice process. Any loss of basic civil rights cannot be taken lightly lest the justice system revert to principles of punitive justice.

In my opinion, we cannot deny some individuals their rights in order to help others. We cannot rob Peter to pay Paul. That is why we must strike a balance between victims' rights and prisoners' rights.

This bill includes another important measure aimed at better integrating prisoners into rehabilitation programs. Such programs have been very successful. It is not enough to hold prisoners financially accountable. They also need to understand the reason for their actions and the consequences of their actions. Rehabilitation is an integral part of the rehabilitation process for prisoners. This kind of program should also be offered during the inmate's parole period.

To sum up, the spirit of Bill C-350 is entirely relevant. Offenders must be held accountable for the financial obligations issued in lawful orders.

Let us all support this bill and hear from experts regarding the bill's validity.

Financial System Review Act February 14th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the speech given by the hon. member across the floor, and I congratulate him on at least having recognized the importance of providing a good legislative and regulatory framework for banks. It is precisely because our banks are so well regulated that, here in Canada, we fared better than most countries when the global banking crisis occurred.

So, yes, it is important to properly legislate and regulate our banks, but a lot more products have become available in recent years, some of them somewhat toxic, poorly defined and poorly regulated, such as commercial paper.

Is the member not worried about the lack of regulation regarding commercial paper and that kind of products, which have increased in number recently?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police January 31st, 2012

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' answers make no sense. Can the RCMP commissioner speak to whomever he likes, yes or no? Did this policy, meant to control the RCMP, come down from the Prime Minister's Office?

As usual, a lot of questions are being raised by Canadians and they are getting no answers from this government. Since the minister is so sure that these directives will not jeopardize the independence of the RCMP, will he rise in this House and table the new RCMP communications protocols?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police January 30th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, ever since the Conservatives have been in power, transparency and accountability have not really been on their list of priorities. Whether we are talking about the budget or departmental policies or directives, the Conservatives are less and less accountable. They devise their policies in such a way as to appear to answer parliamentarians' questions, but in fact, these policies are so opaque that the result is a total lack of transparency. That is what they are trying to do with the RCMP, by muzzling their communications and preventing them from meeting with parliamentarians.

When the Conservatives were in the opposition, during the sponsorship scandal in particular, the hon. member for Crowfoot, the current chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, mentioned the importance of the RCMP's independence from political power. What happened? Now that they are in power, this independence for the RCMP is no longer justifiable? Why does the government want to muzzle the RCMP to the detriment of the government's key policy on accountability?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police January 30th, 2012

Mr. Speaker, on September 22, 2011, the government imposed a new communications protocol for the RCMP, which stipulates that all RCMP officers must consult the Minister of Public Safety and obtain his approval for any non-operational communications. For any major operational events, all communications must be vetted by the public safety department before they can be made public.

This makes no sense. One task cannot be separated into parts without affecting another. Communications are an integral part of the work of the RCMP and the government should not be interfering in RCMP business.

When I asked a question about this on November 21, 2011, the parliamentary secretary's only response was that imposing a communications protocol was standard procedure and normal protocol and that I was smearing the noble institution that is the RCMP. That response was completely condescending towards the opposition and towards Canadians.

The problem is that the Conservative government wants to politicize the RCMP, which will now have to follow the political direction given. The RCMP is an institution that defends the rule of law and our democracy. When the RCMP takes political direction, the rule of law is subverted. Instead of accepting the problem and trying to solve it, the government prefers to control RCMP communications to avoid or cover up scandals. This obviously should not be the government's modus operandi. It should instead agree to be accountable and should be prepared to tackle problems head-on and solve them over the long term.

From this point forward, the RCMP must also flag opportunities for Public Safety Canada ministerial events. This protocol is also designed so that the minister can interfere in the RCMP's public events. They refer to this protocol as a ministerial event proposal.

A former assistant to the deputy minister mentioned that this new protocol requires a major shift in attitude within the RCMP. This just proves that this is not a standard policy for the RCMP, which is not used to such political interference.

All Canadians are aware of the latest developments in the RCMP female employee harassment affair. The commissioner must have the independence necessary to show Canadians that the RCMP will be completely transparent and accountable in dealing with this matter. This political interference will just give Canadians the sense that the Minister of Public Safety is trying to hide something.

The Conservative government said that prior departmental authorization, which must be obtained before the commissioner can speak to parliamentarians, is a policy that dates back to the last Liberal government. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Liberal policy simply said that the commissioner had to notify the minister of any statement that might be made before the committee and any discussion that took place during a committee meeting. There was no requirement for the commissioner to seek the minister's permission to meet with parliamentarians.

Is the commissioner free to talk to and meet with people or not? The government has to clarify this for Canadians. Once again: will the minister respect the RCMP's independence and do away with this restrictive protocol?