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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

Veterans March 10th, 2015

Why are they applauding this nonsense, Mr. Speaker? According to an analysis by The Globe and Mail, Canadian soldiers injured in the line of duty receive significantly less financial compensation than British, Australian and American veterans.

When will the government take action to back up its promises and provide tangible assistance to our veterans?

Veterans March 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in December, the Prime Minister said that Canada offered veterans the best services and programs in the world. However, according to an analysis by The Globe and Mail

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou for his question. He raised a very important point about environmental assessments, a process that the current government has completely gutted. The National Energy Board had a comprehensive and well-defined framework for assessing new pipeline projects across Canada, and there are many of them.

The government, thinking it would help the oil companies, did away with the whole environmental assessment process and did such a thorough job that Canadians' confidence is at an all-time low with respect to environmental assessments of these types of projects. We have to wonder what the government has to hide. As this process eroded more and more, Canadians lost more and more confidence. That is the result of the Conservatives' policies. The government thought it was helping the oil companies but I think its decision to do away with the environmental assessment process is hurting the companies instead of helping them.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. In my speech, I mentioned a few things that are of concern to us.

First of all, there is the limited liability of $1 billion. That is probably not enough given that there are several aging pipelines running through our communities. In the event of a pipeline break, the damage could far exceed $1 billion. That is a concern for this side of the House. If the damage is well beyond that amount—and damage caused by past environmental disasters has topped $2 billion—Canadians would be on the hook. That makes no sense. Thus, our first concern is the $1 billion liability limit.

Second, the National Energy Board should make inspections mandatory. This bill does not deal with inspections of aging pipelines. Thus, we have serious concerns about the lack of oversight of aging pipelines. We should be more concerned about that.

Pipeline Safety Act March 9th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to discuss Bill C-46 on behalf of my fellow constituents in Châteauguay—Saint-Constant. This is a bill that deals with issues as important as energy resources and the protection of our environment.

Bill C-46 amends the rules governing oil companies’ liability. That consists of establishing a principle under which the party responsible for an oil spill will pay up to $1 billion for the damage caused. This bill is part of a broader government review of the liability rules that apply to various aspects of oil and gas development.

Canadians are aware of the potential risks of extracting and transporting oil, and they need to know that their government is going to oversee the industry properly and also protect our environment. Canadians do not have to make a choice between economic development and environmental protection. We need to take both aspects into consideration jointly.

When it comes to projects like northern gateway, Keystone XL or energy east, it is important to make judicious decisions that promote economic development and employment in Canada, while at the same time minimizing the risks to our environment. We need a new vision when it comes to the future of our energy resources, a vision that is guided by three very simple principles.

The first is sustainability, to ensure that polluters pay the bill for cleanups associated with a spill and the pollution caused, rather than passing the bill on to the next generations.

The second is partnership, to ensure that the First Nations, the provinces and local communities genuinely benefit from resource development and to create reliable and value-added jobs here in Canada.

The third is the long-term prosperity that comes from investing the proceeds of our natural resources in modern, ecological technologies, to keep Canada on the cutting edge of energy innovation and keep energy prices affordable for all Canadians.

We are disappointed that in spite of all our calls for urgent action, the Conservatives have taken so long to introduce this bill. In 2011, the Commissioner of the Environment pointed out that the National Energy Board had been unable to solve a number of known problems and ensure adequate maintenance of pipelines. The government has still not implemented an adequate monitoring and inspection system.

Last year, Bill C-22 was also introduced. It dealt with liability relating to offshore drilling and the possibility of spills in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. Because of this narrow vision, the government did not conduct consultations on the liability regime applicable to rail transportation. The Conservatives did not take that issue seriously until they had to limit the political fallout or consequences from the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.

The bill we are currently considering includes absolute liability for all pipelines regulated by the National Energy Board. In other words, the companies will be liable for the costs and damage caused by a pipeline spill, regardless of fault, up to a maximum of $1 billion for high-capacity pipelines. However, in the case of fault or negligence, liability will be unlimited.

I welcome this measure. It is a good start, but that figure could be reached quickly, since the cleanup of some tragedies that have occurred in recent years has significantly exceeded the $1 billion ceiling provided by this bill.

Bill C-46 also limits the time Canadians will have to claim compensation for long-term damage to their health or the environment caused by an accident. The claim must be made within three years of when the damage occurs or six years, at most, after an oil spill. This is debatable, since it is highly probable that some damage will be discovered well after the six years provided by this bill.

The bill gives the National Energy Board the authority to order reimbursement of any cleanup costs incurred by governments, communities or individuals. It also grants the National Energy Board the authority and resources to assume control of a response to any incident, in exceptional circumstances, if a company is unable or unwilling to do so. The NEB would also have new tools for recouping cleanup costs, which could go so far as charging the entire industry.

Unfortunately, the government left some leeway here with decisions that would be left in the hands of cabinet and the National Energy Board, an agency that, on occasion, has demonstrated a lack of credibility. Instead of establishing a responsible regime, with a strict framework, the government is leaving too much leeway for politically motivated decisions, cabinet decisions and backroom agreements that would obviously not be made public between operators and the NEB. Of course, we will question the government about these discretionary measures. It is important to hold the government accountable to Canadians. We are disappointed in the scope of the bill. I hope the Conservatives will be open to the amendments that will be proposed in committee.

Given the limited scope of the bill, we are concerned that polluters will not have to bear the full cost of the damage and that Canadians will end up footing the bill. If so, that casts doubt on the true scope of this bill. What happens if there is a problem establishing fault or negligence? Will Canadians have to pay in such cases? We are talking about possibly billions of dollars. That is a lot of money, and it is not up to Canadians to pay the bills for companies that may have been negligent in their operations. It is all well and good to introduce a bill that focuses on figuring out who is liable, but we also have to be proactive and do as much as possible to prevent oil spills. This bill does not do that.

We need better regulations and increased monitoring of pipelines. In addition, we need to rebuild the robust environmental assessment process that has been dismantled by the current government over the past few years. With the huge expansion in the production and transportation of crude oil, we need enhanced safety protection, regardless of the method of transportation. To that end, we need to increase mandatory inspections, implement adequate regulations, and enforce these standards. Public safety and environmental protection must be among our top priorities.

My colleagues and I firmly believe that Canada must take steps to ensure that we are developing and transporting our resources in a safe and secure way that serves the interests of all Canadians. To that end, all pipelines need to adhere to the highest possible safety and environmental standards consistent with the principles of sustainable development. To ensure that oil companies and pipeline operators adhere to the regulations, we need to put in place robust laws and establish credible environmental assessment mechanisms.

Furthermore, given that transportation affects the provinces, municipalities and communities, we must ensure that the government consults them and establishes partnerships with them. If everyone works together, Canadians can be assured that all of these projects will be implemented and will respect the principle of sustainable development and that the approval process will be as fair as possible, in order to strengthen the accountability of everyone involved. The provinces will continue to develop their natural resources. The issue is knowing how to develop those resources sustainably, while protecting the environment and creating value-added jobs in Canada.

In closing, we will support this bill at second reading, and we ask the government to remain open to the amendments we plan to propose in committee.

Veterans February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, Robyn Young, who was in the army, had a brain tumour removed and now needs treatment to restore her sight.

The minister refused to provide her with any financial help for her treatments even though the army misdiagnosed her condition. Now they are refusing to pay for her housing needs even though she needs to stay far from home for a long period of time to receive her treatments.

How can the minister say that things will change on his watch when he continues to neglect the basic needs of our veterans?

Veterans February 25th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, to avoid hearing complaints from veterans, the Conservatives simply eliminated the satisfaction survey of the department's clients.

In 2010, the satisfaction rate dropped drastically in response to the cuts, so the Conservatives just stopped surveying veterans. That is ridiculous.

Instead of ignoring veterans' needs, will the minister reinstate the service quality survey and, more importantly, improve the services provided to veterans?

National Defence February 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives are also spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the war in Iraq, they are making our reservists wait nearly two years for their severance pay. It is completely unacceptable that 2,754 soldiers are waiting for that pay.

When will the government get its priorities straight and put its resources in the right place in order to resolve these outstanding files as soon as possible?

Veterans Affairs February 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, our veterans deserve better. They deserve more than an infographic off-handedly posted on Twitter as the minister's response to the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Our veterans expect real measures, but once again, they have been let down. New minister, same old disappointments.

When will the minister make real commitments that will finally help veterans in need?

Veterans Affairs January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, just recently, the government spent some $700,000 on legal fees in a court battle against veterans. I think the government does not get it. The men and women it is going after are the ones who fought for our values, our rights and our way of life.

Why does the government prefer to take veterans to court instead of providing them the services they are entitled to?