House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was veterans.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Saint-Jean (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 48% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Red Tape Reduction Act June 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to ask my colleague a question, because I know that, in his constituency, there is a very impressive European, and especially Italian, community. Like a lot of Europeans, they are cheese lovers.

I am interested in my colleague's comments. As I stated in a previous question, dairy producers are being asked to fill in more and more paperwork about milk quality and about the safety of their dairy cows, in order to get better quality milk. I am seeing that in my region. Ironically, the government says it wants to reduce red tape. This poses problems for small businesses and farmers with family businesses. They have to fill in more and more documents that they did not have to fill in a year or two ago. Now they have those constraints. Ironically, the government claims to want to reduce the paperwork required from small businesses.

Could my colleague give me his opinion about this contradiction?

Red Tape Reduction Act June 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech, and I commend her for her passion. She spoke about the issue of red tape for small businesses.

There are two dairy farmers and cheese producers in my riding. When the government announced the Canada-EU agreement on various products, including dairy products, a problem emerged for dairy farmers. Most of the cases involve small family businesses, since the property values sometimes get so out of hand that it is very difficult to transfer small businesses unless it is from one generation to another.

One aspect of the dairy industry, in my riding in particular, and in many regions in Quebec, is that dairy farmers are required to keep producing higher quality milk. When I visited farms in my riding, I was overwhelmed to see how much time farmers spent filling out forms because a cow seemed to be faltering, instead of milking the cows and taking care of the animals' health. They have to make a report every time the dairy animals seem to have a health problem.

On the one hand, the government is requiring better quality dairy products in order to compete with products from the outside, but on the other hand, it is claiming that it will cut the red tape.

I would like my colleague to talk about this persistent contradiction, namely that the government is claiming to cut red tape but then requires more paperwork to ensure we are more or as competitive as the new markets opening up outside Canada.

Public Safety June 13th, 2014

Usually criminals do things illegally, Mr. Speaker.

The minister said that he discussed ways of improving penitentiary security with his Quebec counterpart. Can the minister tell us what concrete measures he is going to take to prevent any more helicopter-assisted prison breaks, which are obviously illegal?

Public Safety June 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness justified his inaction in terms of the management of the airspace over provincial prisons by saying that, at the time, he did not want to deal with a separatist government.

Separatist government or not, it seems to me that the Conservatives should have done something, since Quebec asked the federal government to take action to prevent prison breaks. When will the minister impose a permanent no-fly zone over provincial prisons?

Petitions June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting a petition signed by more than 1,000 people, most of whom signed it at my constituency office. These people are asking for a passport point of service in the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Service Canada centre.

Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is a city of more than 100,000 people that does not have a passport point of service, while some Canadian cities with 9,000, 10,000, or 12,000 people have a passport point of service in their Service Canada offices. That is what the petitioners are asking for today.

Privacy June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, how can the Conservatives, who are supposed to be the champions of freedom, justify asking telecoms for personal information about 100,000 Canadians?

If the Conservatives want to scrutinize Canadians' information and actions, they just have to watch the French program Occupation double. In the meantime, we are talking about ordinary citizens who are sharing their personal information with the government without even knowing it.

Can the Conservative government tell us what kind of information the telecoms are asked for?

Normandy Landing June 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, 70 years ago on the morning of June 6, 14,000 brave and fearless Canadian soldiers landed on Juno Beach in Normandy.

The Royal Canadian Navy supplied the ships for the landing, and our planes flew over the ancient dunes, preparing the terrain for shelling. Of the 14,000 who chose to crowd into those boats, over 1,000 were killed or wounded freeing Europe from the Nazi scourge.

Every member here is proud to pay tribute today to those who were willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom. I speak for us all when I say, “Lest we forget”.

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague is assuming that the Conservative government's intentions are more honourable than they really are.

He spoke about the situation with VIA Rail. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the loved ones of those who died in this morning's accident on the Montreal-Quebec City line. This accident was particularly frightening. One wonders if the government really is that incompetent or if it simply wants to get rid of some of the crown corporations, such as Canada Post.

I take the train every week. One wonders, seeing the deterioration in service at VIA Rail, whether the Conservative government is simply waiting until the situation gets so bad that it can sell the crown corporation to a private company and get rid of it.

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I am not very optimistic.

Although I do not have a great deal of experience in committee, I can say that my past three years in committee have convinced me that the Conservatives generally do not want to accept amendments that do not come from them, and that was particularly true of the amendments to the electoral “deform” legislation. The Conservative members did not want to accept amendments from the NDP.

However, the same ideas or amendments coming from the Senate and Conservative senators were considered acceptable. I have really witnessed some bad faith.

In fact, I do not expect much from the committee. An enormous number of improvements need to be made, and the ombudsman’s report contains a number of them.

Veterans Hiring Act June 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am going to speak to Bill C-27. What my colleague from Québec said is absolutely true. We do not have our priorities straight.

I will obviously be voting in favour of this bill at second reading because it is a step in the right direction. However, the bill is not enough. One of the reasons it is not enough is that it always seems as though this government is responding because it is compelled to do so not because veterans are a priority for the government. We see it every day.

One of the reasons why I am interested in this subject is that we have a lot of veterans in Saint-Jean because we have a military base there, and most military members who have served in the Canadian Forces did part of their training at the base in Saint-Jean. We also have the Royal Military College, so we have a whole military environment. When members are transferred from base to base, some of them wind up staying in the area of one of their postings. That is true of Quebec City, with the base in Valcartier, but it is also true of us in Saint-Jean. A number of military members settle in the city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu or in the region because their last posting was in Saint-Jean.

I am obviously very concerned about the situation in which we are putting our veterans. The Conservative Party and the Conservative government are not the only ones who have abandoned veterans. The Liberals did so as well. The cuts that the Liberals made in 1994 and 1995 when they were in power show that they were no more committed to helping our veterans or military members than the Conservatives. That is why we hope that the NDP will be able to take charge of this file after 2015 and give our veterans the help they deserve.

I am obviously going to talk about my bill, Bill C-568, which the government and Conservative members voted against. To my mind, once is not a habit. I can hold the Conservatives to account for their actions. They are always telling us that we voted against some budget measure or another when they are constantly serving up omnibus bills that contain measures on anything and everything. They then criticize us and attack us for not voting on one of the budget provisions, when that provision did not even have anything to do with the budget.

Now I am holding them to account for their choices. They voted against Bill C-568, my bill respecting long-term care for veterans, claiming that there was in fact no problem. When I meet with veterans, at the legion or other events in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu or in the region, the comments I get from my constituents are not at all consistent with what Conservative members are saying. The Conservative government is not addressing the real problems.

One of the problems I raised in Bill C-568 was the creation of two classes of veterans. This is a concept that we in the NDP oppose. The government and Veterans Affairs Canada have created two classes of veterans. On the one hand, there are what are called traditional veterans or war veterans, which means those who served until 1953, mainly in World War II and the Korean War, and who are still alive. On the other hand, we have modern veterans, which means those who served after 1953, mainly on peacekeeping missions, but also on war missions such as the one in Afghanistan.

Within this second class of veterans, the government has artificially created a third class. That third class is the class of veterans who served after April 1, 2006, or those who now fall under the jurisdiction of the new veterans charter.

As we can see, the consequence of making various amendments to different acts is that three classes of veterans have in fact been created: war or traditional veterans, veterans before the new charter and veterans after the new charter.

What is the main difference between these two subclasses of veterans? It is mainly the disability pension that was previously paid to our wounded veterans and that has been replaced by a disability award since April 1, 2006. I have had many conversations with veterans, and they have convinced me that, in practice and in many cases, they realize that the amounts of these two types of compensation for the same injury can at times differ by as much as a factor of 10 or 15. Consequently, the financial implications are that, with a ratio of 1 to 10 or 1 to 15, this creates a new injustice between these categories.

I will not go over all the arguments that my colleagues have advanced thus far. I would just be repeating what they have already explained very clearly to this point. However, I would like to go back to the incident that made the news last Thursday, when the Minister of Veterans Affairs actually ignored Jenifer Migneault. That incident was truly indicative of the lack of interest and compassion the Minister of Veterans Affairs has shown. It is that lack of compassion that veterans report to us in meetings in our ridings every day.

What is quite paradoxical is that, on the one hand, Veterans Affairs Canada has closed nine regional offices that gave our veterans access to services and, on the other hand, has spent millions of dollars advertising the services of Veterans Affairs Canada. Members have probably seen some of those ads on television or heard them on the radio in recent weeks. I am not opposed to the idea of advertising to inform veterans about available services, but advertising should be in addition to the services themselves. It should not replace those services. In other words, it should not be purchased solely for the purpose of concealing the fact that services have been cut for those who have served our country and sacrificed themselves. It is really terrible that, on the one hand, services are being cut, while, on the other hand, the government is buying advertising to conceal this state of affairs, which is a reality. Veterans tell us this every day.

I will close on that point. I am going to support the principle of this bill at second reading so that it is referred to committee and can be improved, because it really must be improved so that it actually meets the needs of our veterans.