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

Energy Safety and Security Act May 29th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I want to come back to the argument we sometimes hear that there is little chance of such events ever occurring. Our colleagues opposite say it is strictly theoretical.

I was living in Europe when the Chernobyl disaster struck. The media told us we had nothing to fear since the clouds stopped at the borders. That is actually what the media reported at the time.

Ukraine was heavily criticized at the time for its deplorable management of nuclear power plants. However, even a country like Japan, with its advanced safety mechanisms and technologies, had to deal with a major incident like the one in Fukushima.

Can my colleague speak to that part of the argument we keep hearing, about the unlikelihood of a nuclear accident?

Former Canadian Forces Members Act May 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the arguments that government members made against Bill C-568. I would remind members that one of the objectives of this bill is to give veterans priority access to beds in community facilities, which make up two-thirds of the 9,000 beds currently occupied.

The Conservatives' main concern is that this will create unnecessary red tape. I do not understand this argument, since the government actually would rather avoid paying a bill that it could pass along to the provinces. This bill would not do away with the categories of veterans for all of the regulations. It would only do so for part III of the Veterans Health Care Regulations, which has to do with long-term health care.

Giving veterans priority access to beds will not create red tape. It will certainly cost some more money, but our veterans deserve to have all of us share the costs of the consequences of the missions we sent them on.

We are simply asking the federal government to change its model of classes of veterans and implement a system in which those who served before and after 1953 have access to the same quality care. Today we have to make a decision about access to beds for the veterans we are so proud of.

We know that there are already two problems with beds in community facilities: wait lists and staff turnover, which is directly related to the orderlies' wages. With the Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Hospital transfer, the orderlies' salaries will decrease by 15% to 34%. How can we avoid staff turnover with these kinds of wage cuts?

We often talk about two categories of modern veterans: those who served before 1953 and those who served after. In fact, there are two subcategories of modern veterans: those who served before and those who served after the new veterans charter took effect on April 1, 2006.

I would like to talk about how modern veterans are not being given the benefit of the doubt. If a traditional veteran has a service-related injury, there is automatically a presumption that there is a connection between that veteran's service and the need for long-term care. However, modern veterans—even if they received a disability pension before 2006 or a disability award after 2006—have to prove that there is a connection between their service and the need for long-term care. That is impossible, in practical terms.

It is impossible because, at a certain age, it is no longer realistic to be able to make a distinction between the natural consequences of aging and the consequences directly related to military service, even if the needs are legitimately related to the veteran's service. New Zealand veterans were facing the same unfair situation, so the government created a single category for veterans once they turn 75.

The new veterans charter was passed in 2006 with the promise that it would be a living document. During consultations about my bill, I heard veterans complain about some of the new provisions. One of the most striking examples that was brought to my attention was the fact that before the new charter, injured veterans received a disability pension. Now that the new charter has been implemented, they receive a lump sum payment that works out to far less money.

In conclusion, I would like the government and the Conservative members to remember that voting against Bill C-568 will neither address the problem of long-term health care for veterans nor make it go away.

On the contrary, as the Canadian population in general ages over the coming decades, there will be even more pressure on health care systems, which the provinces are responsible for. The shortage of long-term beds for veterans will get even worse, and that is something we will have to talk about again someday.

Veterans Hiring Act May 16th, 2014

There is still work to do. We are still waiting for the university part. In 2015, I hope that we will be in government and be able to bring back that university part.

I would like to ask the member for Vancouver Quadra how she can reconcile those two contradictory statements she made in her speech.

Veterans Hiring Act May 16th, 2014

That is true. It was actually the Conservative government that brought it back, although not entirely, because—

Veterans Hiring Act May 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, it is really ironic to hear the member for Vancouver Quadra, who is the Liberal critic for national defence, talking to us about bureaucracy and this government failing our veterans, soldiers, and men and women in uniform. It is really ironic. I know she was not there at the time, but it is that very party that in 1994 made the cuts in the federal national defence budget that led to the closure of the Royal Military College Saint Jean in my riding.

It is really ironic to hear her criticize the government, because—

Veterans Hiring Act May 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech and thank him for it.

Since he is the NDP veterans affairs critic, I would like to ask him a question that people asked me when I visited several Canadian legions. The question is about the problem with the new veterans charter. In 2006, it was touted as a living charter. However, in practice, it has not been changed to take into account the new problems it is causing.

One of the problems that many people talked to me about is the fact that the disability pensions that were available before April 1, 2006, have been replaced by a disability award. People wounded at a young age, who would once have collected a disability pension for 50 years or more—which adds up to several million dollars—are now getting only a single award worth just tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars after their military service.

I would like my colleague to comment on this injustice.

Veterans Hiring Act May 16th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting this bill, and we clearly support the idea behind it. We just do not think that it goes far enough.

To begin, I am wondering about the retroactive date of April 1, 2012. I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary how they came up with that date.

My second question for the parliamentary secretary regarding this bill is about the fact that he said that the government, to use his words, left “no stone unturned”, meaning that it considered every aspect that directly or indirectly affects veterans, particularly those with injuries.

The government said that the new veterans charter would evolve and that it would solve various problems. When I spoke to veterans about Bill C-568, I heard one thing over and over again. Injured veterans, who used to receive a disability pension for life, now receive a lump sum payment that works out to far less money than they received before the new charter was implemented. What can he tell me about the fact that this bill does not address that situation?

Champlain Bridge May 8th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Prime Minister stated that the government is going to build a new local bridge. That nonsense is an insult to the thousands of people in my riding who are stuck in traffic jams on a daily basis.

In reality, the new bridge will be a replacement for the Champlain Bridge, and the local bridge will be the busiest not just in Montérégie, not just in Quebec, but in all of Canada.

The residents of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and the surrounding area overwhelmingly rejected the idea of having to pay a toll on a bridge they use every day to go to work in Montreal, which amounts to keeping Canada's second-largest city running.

The residents of Saint-Jean have asked me to send the Minister of Infrastructure a clear message. We just want to keep what we already have. Since the minister likes short phrases: a bridge, but no toll.

Champlain Bridge May 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the heart of the problem is that the federal government has a bridge and the Liberals and Conservatives neglected it so much that it now needs to be replaced. Instead of forcing Montreal-area motorists to foot the bill for 50 years of neglect, the government should take responsibility.

Does the minister realize that the entire Quebec and Canadian economies will suffer because his government stubbornly wants to impose a toll on the new Champlain Bridge?

Petitions April 28th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a petition signed by residents of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and the surrounding municipalities.

The petitioners believe that the reduction in postal services, the elimination of home delivery for thousands of urban customers and the reduced hours for thousands of rural customers will have completely unfair consequences for seniors, for people with disabilities and, as it happens, for businesses.