House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was community.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Jeanne-Le Ber (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Lincoln Alexander Day December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, as always, it is with pride that I stand in the House today to speak to my colleagues and the Canadian people, particularly on this day, on this bill.

I would like to thank the member for Hamilton Mountain. A year ago, the member put forward Bill C-563 which, in effect, is this bill. It is good to see that even though it has changed its title, it has come to this place to be heard for the third time. I do believe it will pass.

We all have dreams. We all have individuals in our life who we look to and say “I want to be just like that person”. Following up on the question I asked my colleague, this is an important aspect of why we should support the bill. It is why I and my colleagues support this bill moving forward, making January 21 Lincoln Alexander day in recognition of the fine work he did.

All of my colleagues who have spoken to this bill in the past have spoken to the dedication and passion of Lincoln Alexander, former Lieutenant Governor, and of the contributions he has made to our country, to Canadians and Ontarians.

I would like to highlight the contribution that he has made in terms of being a focal point, or a beacon to the black community in Canada. As I said, we all have dreams. When I was about seven years old, I saw Sidney Poitier in To Sir, with Love. In seeing that, it solidified in mind that, yes, I would be an actor but not only that, this is how I would do it. That was the beginning of my road. I had, like so many of us, individuals who helped guide me in that direction.

The importance of this bill is that it allows for the story of Lincoln Alexander to represent the same kind of beacon, the same kind of guidance, the same kind of pride to the community of communities; that is the black community in Canada.

Lincoln Alexander, indeed, overcame the barriers and walls that existed in his time to become the first on many levels. We do look at firsts in our community as being significant. There are times where in areas of the world or in certain activities, it is expected that people of African descent will participate, to excel. There are areas of the world or activities where that is not so open.

Before there were the Williams sisters, Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe in the world of tennis, which was a very closed world. Before there was Tiger Woods, there was Charlie Sifford, who became the first person of African descent to play in the PGA tour.

Like these trailblazers, Lincoln Alexander holds that very proud distinction in the world of Canadian politics. In a world where history has forgotten many of the stories that have been forged in Canadian history and in world history, recognizing the accomplishments of Lincoln Alexander on January 21 each year will give a focus to young people.

As my colleague has pointed out many times, the importance of young people to Mr. Lincoln Alexander goes unsaid. Like so many individuals who care about the future, Lincoln Alexander did what he had to do, not only because it was his time to do it, but to blaze a trail forward for those who came after him, including myself. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before, and I count myself as one who stands on the shoulders of Lincoln Alexander.

The bill is important because it sends a very clear message to those who have a vision. It sends the message that it can be done and should be done. It sends a message that underlines the continuing march towards inherent inclusion and the further distancing from the hard-fought merits of inclusion. It solidifies the history, place, life, times and works of Lincoln Alexander. Therefore, it cannot be lost in the history of our country.

It becomes a beacon, much like the beacons I have followed, for future generations. It becomes a point for young people sitting at their desk thinking they would like to be a part of change in our country, a part of contributing to our country. Lincoln Alexander is a beacon in how that can be done and the fact that it could be done.

My support, and all of our support, for this bill means that we are participating in the making of dreams; the dreams of those who are just beginning to dream as well as those who are well on the road to achieving their dreams. It allows those dreams to be attained. It allows those dreams to become a reality.

Above all else in his accomplishments, if he were with us today, I think Lincoln Alexander would be quite proud to be a beacon for those young people and their dreams.

Lincoln Alexander Day December 2nd, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague if he would share his thoughts a little further on why this bill and recognizing January 21 as Lincoln Alexander Day is an important thing for the House to do.

Agricultural Growth Act November 24th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue this discussion, but from the point of view of the consumer.

I live in an urban riding. I have a very popular farmers' market, Atwater Market, in my riding, and I do a lot of my shopping at Jean-Talon Market, which is the biggest farmers' market in Montreal. Many consumers, especially urban consumers, are looking to begin a process of sourcing by buying organic and ensuring they are supporting local producers.

With this section on seed control, for lack of a better way of putting it, how are consumers going to be able to track where their food comes from, as the provisions in this act would narrow the availability of seed sources?

Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my voice to the discussion on Bill C-26, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, to enact the high risk child sex offender database act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

I would first say, as many of my colleagues have stated in their interventions, that I will be supporting the bill going to second reading for specific reasons.

We believe that at its root, Bill C-26 is an important bill, and we have a zero-tolerance perspective on sexual violence, sexual crimes, particularly those crimes involving children. We want to see the bill go to committee in faith that during the committee hearings, the discussions around certain aspects of the bill will be fulsome and productive.

However, yet again, we see another foray into the world of mandatory minimum sentences. As my colleagues were discussing, the issue of mandatory sentences is a troubling issue, and we have ample evidence from our neighbours to the south and here in Canada that mandatory minimum sentences do not produce the results that my colleagues from across the way expect of them.

My colleague asked earlier whether there was any evidence that an individual who was going to commit such a crime sat down and thought about the mandatory minimum sentence such that, “If I do this, I am going to prison for x amount of time”. That would be a rational discussion for an irrational person.

There is ample evidence showing that mandatory minimum sentences do not produce results. However, more important is the issue of the legislative branch intruding into the jurisdiction of the courts. I have brought this up before. Here one of my colleagues brought up the question of why the NDP is so opposed to harsher sentences.

I do not think there is anyone in the House, on this side or the other, who does not agree with appropriate sentences for heinous crimes. However, there is a difference between allowing for harsher sentences in legislation and dictating to the courts that they must, without any judgment by judges, impose these sentences. This is where we have difficulty with the bill before us.

I hope that we can sit down in committee and explore how we can have appropriate sentences prescribed and available while still allowing the judges to use their discretion and abilities, the reasons they sit on the bench, to impose those sentences.

The bill's going to committee would also allow us to explore the potential of unintended consequences.

In the parliamentary summary, one of the commentaries brought forward about the creation of the database is the concern. It says:

A number of comments concerning Bill C-26 have mentioned the possibility of vigilantism rising from a publicly accessible database of sex offenders. Detective Constable Stephen Canton, the police officer in charge of the Niagara Regional Police sex offender registry, is also concerned that “[w]hen you start to identify offenders, you start to get less compliance and it pushes them underground.”

Ultimately, we want to see a bill enacted into law that does what it needs to do, without the sense of going after a mosquito with a bazooka. We need to ensure that we do it right, and this is the work of the committees. We need to ensure that we do not create situations with unintended consequences, such as the one I just read. That would put us in a situation where otherwise law-abiding citizens, through a mob mentality and their own loss and pain, find themselves in a position where they have information that allows them to exact vengeance in an effort to get rid of their own pain. We do not want to this to happen.

We want to ensure that people are protected from those who may repeat. We want to ensure that people are aware of high-risk offenders, in particular, those people who have for one reason or another continuously been allowed back onto the streets and who run the risk of reoffending for whatever reason. We need to protect our communities in that way. In enacting this bill, we need to ensure it would do that.

One of the other aspects that I would like to touch on is the amendment that would allow for spouses to testify against one another. Again, this is something I hope the committee will explore, because of unintended circumstances. We do not want to find non-offending spouses in a position where they might be held accountable for the actions of their partners. We want to ensure that their rights as individuals are protected and secured, and that they are not swept up in the net of the actions of their partners.

This bill is said to protect our communities. Like most laws, it would be in place to respond after the fact, after the crime has been committed. In that context, we have to ask whether the bill would act to protect communities. We have to ensure that the resources are there for our communities to prevent crimes of this nature and to prevent the repeat of crimes of this nature.

As I said in the beginning, I will be supporting this bill at second reading, with the full faith and confidence that my colleagues across the way will be open to discussion and whatever amendments arise from that discussion.

Jeanne-Le Ber Community Support November 20th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the work of hundreds of organizations in my riding, Jeanne-Le Ber.

I am very proud to work alongside the workers and all the volunteers who give of their time to stand up for food and housing security, support seniors, or fight to keep kids in school. The commitment of these organizations is central to our community.

By way of example, I have visited many of these organizations, such as Toujours ensemble. Through its efforts, this Verdun-based organization, which is a member of the pathways to education program, has seen a reduction in dropout rates of 70%.

I am very proud of the hundreds of individuals who give of their time, spirit, and heart to build a stronger, better, and more inspired community. I thank each and every one of them.

Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act November 18th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the way talked about the need to deflect radicalization. As my colleague, the member for Davenport, mentioned earlier, one of the biggest issues for all immigrants is a sense of inclusion in their adopted land. These individuals are vulnerable because they feel a lack of inclusion.

How can the changes to passports or citizenship make individuals feel as if they belong when there will be this perpetual cloud hanging over them because they are “not from here”? I wonder how that would help create a sense of inclusion and how that would help with the non-radicalization of new arrivals in Canada.

Champlain Bridge November 7th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, instead of closing the debate on changing the name of the Champlain Bridge, the Minister of Infrastructure told us that he was working hard on finding a new name.

The minister has missed the point. The problem is not the name “Maurice Richard”. The problem is that he is trying to get rid of the current name.

When will the minister tackle the real issues with the Champlain Bridge: the transparency of the bidding process, communication with Quebec and elected officials, and especially the toll?

Committees of the House November 6th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the debate this morning with very keen interest. I am hearing a lot of numbers thrown around about how we have done this or that and have spent more money than in the history of universe on one subject or another, but my colleague brought up the very interesting fact that some of this money has not been spent.

Whether it is a lump sum payment or a series of payments, what I am hearing from veterans is more about the access to care that is available to them, particularly when dealing with PTSD. Veterans are not getting that service. They are not getting the help they need. I do not think any amount of money in their pockets is going to help if they are not able to function. I wonder if my colleague would care to comment on the lack of availability of services for our veterans, especially in health care.

Petitions October 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, even though I represent an urban riding, I have a petition here signed by over 100 people who are citing the right to save seeds.

We have a number of farmers' markets in Montreal, and these residents want to make sure that farmers are allowed to save seeds and reuse seeds at their will.

Rail Transportation October 31st, 2014

Mr. Speaker, be it grain transport or rail safety, the Conservative government continues to drop the ball.

The people of Jeanne-Le Ber are worried. Since 2011, we have had three derailments in our community. Last April the minister promised to remove all DOT-111 tank cars, which played a huge role in the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, from service within three years. The Americans said they would do so within two years.

Can the minister tell us exactly where this file stands and when the process for removing these time bombs will be complete?