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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was around.

Last in Parliament September 2021, as Liberal MP for Pontiac (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2019, with 49% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Standing Orders of the House May 25th, 2021

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today on Motion No. 38 from the member for Etobicoke North. It is a strong motion with some positive consequences. I am really excited to support it and also speak to an issue that she has led on for years, both in her pre-political career and now over many years serving the Canadian public, including as minister for science.

I would note the important contributions from the MP for Etobicoke North since 2015. When our government was elected back then, we recognized right away that research, science and evidence should be the centre of decision-making and investment choices. There were several initiatives launched to demonstrate this commitment, many of which fell to the MP for Etobicoke North to lead, and I want to salute her efforts today on this.

In addition to reintroducing the long-form census on day one, we also invested more than $10 billion to support Canadian scientists, researchers and cutting-edge equipment between 2016 and 2019. We appointed a chief science adviser, Dr. Mona Nemer, as an independent adviser to the Prime Minister and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. I consider myself very privileged to have regular conversations with our chief science adviser.

We also implemented a set of scientific integrity policies for federal scientists so that they could speak freely about their work. As well, we introduced the digital citizen initiative, which is a strategy to combat digital misinformation, including science and health misinformation, and instituted new requirements for openness and transparency in science and research in the federal government.

There are some major initiatives, and I want to credit the MP for Etobicoke North for her leadership in this regard.

We also took important steps to modernize the scientific ecosystem and federal supports. For example, we implemented equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives that create a more inclusive research ecosystem in Canada; focused more on funding multidisciplinary and collaborative research that reflects the way research is conducted today; ensured better coordination among our world-class funding agencies; and promoted co-operation among federal government laboratories, university research facilities and the private sector.

The global pandemic obviously brought science and research to the forefront. Our efforts to rebuild Canada's science and research capacity in recent years and to forge strong ties with the research community and the innovation ecosystem have been essential in our fight against COVID-19.

Our government has reiterated its commitment to making science-based decisions by mandating the creation of 11 expert groups and task forces, including those convened by the chief science advisor, to inform the government's response to pandemics.

We mobilized researchers and the life science companies to support large-scale efforts to combat COVID-19. As part of more than $1 billion for the COVID-19 response fund, our government invested $217 million in coronavirus research and medical countermeasures to advance projects undertaken by university researchers and others. We also committed $1 billion in support of a national medical strategy to fight COVID-19, which includes vaccine development, production of treatments and tracking the virus. Clearly, in the COVID-19 context, we are talking about a real focus on science in governance.

As well, we helped launch CanCOVID, a new Canada-wide network of health science and policy researchers to facilitate COVID-19 research collaboration and to expedite communication, and we did not stop there. We know that a plan for a long-lasting recovery post-COVID must be led by a growth strategy that builds on our unique competitive advantages in our Canadian economy and in the Canadian research sector.

That is why budget 2021 includes important new resources to strengthen Canada's position as a world leader in research and innovation by building a global brand that will attract talent and capital for years to come.

That includes more than $440 million over 10 years to support the pan-Canadian artificial intelligence strategy, $360 million over seven years to launch a national quantum strategy and $400 million over six years to support a new pan-Canadian genomics strategy.

We are talking about significant investments that are going to lead to distinct Canadian advantages in particular research sectors that really do speak to the importance of science in our approach to governance.

With the remaining time that I have, I want to focus on the importance of Motion No. 38, as advanced by the member for Etobicoke North. As I mentioned, our government since 2015, has had a total commitment to supporting Canada's science and research sector. Facts, evidence and data are informing all elements of government planning and decision-making. I think that, as I mentioned before, in relation to this legacy of science-based decision-making, the MP for Etobicoke North, through her service to the Canadian public as a researcher, academic and later MP, and then minister for science, really has established a legacy that is only going to be further cemented by Motion No. 38.

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly highlighted the role that scientists and researchers play in our society and their remarkable work is obviously what has informed the global effort in the fight against the pandemic. I think the Canadian public has really come to appreciate how much they rely on good science being at the foundation of government decisions.

I believe that all parliamentarians appreciate the importance not only of listening to science but of convening a forum within this House where members from all parties and the public might benefit from the reflections of our scientific and research communities. The standing committee proposed by Motion No. 38 would serve as an important dedicated forum to study and report on scientific matters and relevant research activities. It would provide all governments, not only our own but future governments, with an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the centrality of science and evidence in the context of Canada's legislative branch. It is not just government that needs to focus on science, it is legislators as well. The standing committee on science and research would provide parliamentarians with opportunities to incorporate scientific information in their work within their communities and in the House of Commons.

I think that it is fair to say that science has never been more important in our country's history, in the world's history. Whether looking at the immediate term of COVID-19, or looking at the immediate medium and long-term issues like climate change, science is going to remain our most powerful tool in fighting these crises. We need to make sure that we nurture science and research wisely and that we enable public discussion of science and research. I think that is one of the key pieces of this motion and I salute the member for Etobicoke North for this.

Canada has always had world-leading researchers and has a tremendous track record of scientific accomplishment. It is really remarkable that the House of Commons lacks a dedicated scientific-oriented standing committee to vote on and do scientific and research. I think it has probably been raised by colleagues previously that there have been five previous House of Commons standing committees with either science or research in their titles, but they have always been combined with distinct subject areas; for example, energy industry and energy, industry and technology or regional and northern development. In an era beset by fake news and conspiracy theories, I think that it behooves us as members of Parliament to stand with Canadians. The vast majority of Canadians, in my estimation, would support the idea that Parliament can serve as a better steward of and a better platform for the dissemination of scientific knowledge and facts.

By voting for this motion, I believe that we, as parliamentarians, have a chance to acknowledge our responsibility to protect science and research, and to bring the public to it, but also to bring—

Jean-Claude Chartrand May 4th, 2021

Mr. Speaker, chef Jean-Claude Chartrand, owner of the L'Orée du Bois restaurant in Chelsea and ambassador for the Outaouais, passed away recently.

I want to express my condolences to his wife, Josée, and their children, whom I spoke to this morning. We will never forget chef Jean-Claude, as we knew him, or the true sense of hospitality and joy he put into his creative dishes.

The general public got to experience his sense of humour and love of local Outaouais products for themselves, after he appeared on a Radio-Canada TV show called Le Combat des villes in 2016 and made it to the finals.

Chef Jean-Claude gave many Quebeckers, including me, a taste for cooking. From him, I learned how important it is to support small, local farmers.

I had the privilege and great honour of serving as his sous-chef at the Outaouais' Gourmet Festival.

On behalf of the people of Pontiac and myself, I offer my sincere condolences to the loved ones of chef Jean-Claude Chartrand.

Innovation, Science and Industry April 23rd, 2021

Madam Speaker, our government has invested significantly from day one in biomanufacturing, recognizing that our country did not have the capacity to produce its own vaccines. We have made investment after investment all across the country. These have been hundreds of millions of dollars and now, through budget 2021, there is over $2.2 billion so Canadians are protected not just now but in the future. We know Canadians need these vaccines and are going to need boosters in the future. Our government is prepared and we are making the necessary investments.

The Budget April 20th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I will simply say that our government's record in defence of persons with disabilities is unblemished and solid. We have legislated in the matter. We have invested historic amounts and we are going to continue investing historic amounts. Consultation is an ongoing thing, not a one-off matter.

The Budget April 20th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

This is obviously a very important issue for all Canadians. Health care is currently the main priority. As we announced in March, the federal government plans to increase health transfers to the provinces and territories by $4 billion.

The Prime Minister has clearly indicated that he is open to discussing health transfers. The federal government has obviously been there from the beginning of the pandemic, investing in the health care system with equipment, vaccines—

The Budget April 20th, 2021

Madam Speaker, the member's question is important because many Canadians are wondering about travel, the future of travel and what restrictions may or may not be imposed.

The Prime Minister has been very clear on this. Issues related to travel, international travel and discussions around what documentation is going to be necessary are being discussed regularly at an international level. However, the picture is not entirely clear yet.

It would be important for the member to watch closely for what our Minister of Transport and our Minister of Public Safety say about these issues going forward. Obviously the budget does not outline all of the details. The member could expect that further details will follow in the weeks and months to come.

The Budget April 20th, 2021

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to budget 2021, which was presented to the House on Monday by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. I will be sharing my time this afternoon with my friend, the hon. member for Kings—Hants.

Budget 2021 addresses two fundamental challenges and includes measures that will benefit my constituents in Pontiac, middle-class Canadians, as well as science, research and innovation in Canada.

The first challenge is definitely to finish the fight against COVID-19. That means buying vaccines and supporting provincial health care systems, among other critical health priorities.

The second challenge will take longer. It is to emerge from the COVID-19 recession. That means healing the economic wounds left by the pandemic and ensuring that lost jobs are recovered as swiftly as possible, so that the hardest-hit businesses can rebound and flourish. It means providing support where COVID-19 has struck hardest, to women, young people and low-wage workers, and to small and medium-sized businesses, especially in sectors like hospitality and tourism.

Our federal support measures, which represent $8 out of every $10 spent by all governments combined on COVID, have protected jobs and helped limit the number of permanent business closures. We will continue to honour this covenant with Canadians until COVID-19 is fully behind us with new measures to support Canadian businesses, workers and families. For example, through budget 2020-21, we will extend both the wage subsidy and the rent subsidy and they will be extended until September 25, 2021, with the possibility of a further extension to November, depending on the economic and public health situation.

We are also introducing the Canada recovery hiring program. This $595-million investment will help businesses pivot to recovery, with incentives to hire back, grow hours or increase wages. We announced a historic $4-billion investment into a digital adoption program to help Canadian small businesses become more competitive, go digital, take advantage of e-commerce and become more competitive in Canada and around the world.

Finally, we are committed to lowering credit card fees by engaging with stakeholders to lower the average overall cost of interchange fees for our small businesses.

We have to revitalize tourism. The impact of COVID-19 on workers and businesses in tourism, arts and culture has been severe. That is especially true in the Outaouais region, where many rural communities depend on tourism and vacationers, especially in the summer.

I am thinking about the Vallée-de-la-Gatineau, Pontiac and Collines-de-l'Outaouais RCMs. I am thinking about businesses such as Le Rabaska in Maniwaki, L'Orée du Bois in Chelsea, the Spruceholme Inn in Fort-Coulonge and the Laspézia restaurant in the Plateau sector of Gatineau.

With the rollout of vaccines under way and going quite well in Quebec, businesses in the tourism sector are getting ready to welcome Canadians back to experience the great places and activities that we have to offer. Canadians are eager to discover or rediscover their country. This is a great opportunity for the Outaouais.

We have to ensure that regions like ours succeed in this context of local, regional and national tourism. That is why, to support this sector, the government is proposing a new package of supports totalling $1 billion over three years thanks to budget 2021. That amount includes $500 million in funding over two years for regional development agencies, to help our hard-hit tourism businesses adapt their products and services and invest in growth.

To attract visitors to our small festivals and local events, Canadian Heritage will also receive $200 million. This will ensure that our events and festivals can continue to celebrate our artistic excellence and unique character. We will be ready for the tourism economy's recovery.

On the issue of science, it has been a privilege to serve Canadians as the parliamentary secretary for science throughout this pandemic. I am so pleased to point out that budget 2021 delivers massive investments in Canadian science, health innovation, research and development, and innovation. We recognize the critical role that science and research will play, both in addressing the current health crisis and in rebuilding our economy and creating good jobs for Canadians. We are investing heavily to grow our life sciences ecosystem and create the biomanufacturing capacity necessary to ensure that we are more resilient in the face of future pandemics.

This includes over $1 billion for biomedical research, clinical trials and the necessary infrastructure at universities and research hospitals to undertake this work. This includes a nearly $60-million investment in the University of Saskatchewan's VIDO-InterVac to support its ongoing COVID vaccine research and expand its facility in Saskatoon.

We are also making targeted investments in critically important health care research, including areas such as women's health, diabetes, pediatric cancer, regenerative medicine, antimicrobial resistance, and in the creation of a national genomics strategy worth $400 million to build on Canada's expertise.

If members and the Canadians listening to these incredible investments proposed in budget 2021 in science, health innovation and research are dizzied by the sheer size and scale of these investments, then I would not blame them. We are going to be unrelenting in our focus on science and evidence as the driver of policy decisions and strategic investments. I was pleased to note yesterday that the non-profit advocacy group, Evidence for Democracy Canada, commented that in budget 2021, “science underpins targeted investments to drive equitable recovery and long-term prosperity”, and that Evidence for Democracy was “pleased to see strategic investments across the Canadian science ecosystem, including targeted research funding”.

There is so much more, and I know members will appreciate our focus on protecting Canadians as we invest in innovative research and development. Budget 2021 promises strategic investments in emerging technologies to capitalize on areas of Canadian strength.

This includes $360 million over seven years to launch a national quantum strategy, working with great Canadian universities like Université de Sherbrooke, UBC, University of Waterloo and others.

There is $444 million over 10 years to support the next phase of the pan-Canadian artificial intelligence strategy for commercialization, talent retention, research and training, computing capacity and artificial intelligence standards.

It promises $10 million over two years to the Canadian Space Agency to plan for the next generation of earth observation satellites and $80 million over 11 years to replace and expand the aging but critically important ground-based infrastructure to receive satellite data.

There is $90 million over five years to the National Research Council to retool and modernize the Canadian photonics fabrication centre in Ottawa.

This budget builds on the historic investments in fundamental research from budget 2018 and our government's innovation and skills strategy. It sets us up for growth and success, both today and for the future. It focuses on the pandemic today, but also addresses looming threats that require better science, better data and better governance.

My time is running short, so I will not dive deep into our climate innovation, climate research, climate action and low-carbon job-creation investments. We are talking billions of dollars in transformative investments to get us to the net-zero economy, which dovetail wonderfully with our carbon-pricing mechanism that the Supreme Court has, after so many unnecessary years of Conservative knuckle dragging and climate denial, confirmed as being within federal jurisdiction. Yes, we will be establishing and applying a climate lens that ensures climate considerations are integrated throughout federal government decision-making. We are talking about Arctic research and a census of the environment statistical trend-monitoring effort.

I will not delve into our investments in gender-based violence research and knowledge mobilization, with funding for community research—

Telecommunications March 26th, 2021

Madam Speaker, our government is going to continue to ensure that Canadian networks are kept safe and secure. We have been saying this for months. Canadians can be assured that we are not going to compromise on matters of national security, and while we are never going to comment on specific companies, an examination of the emerging 5G technology and associated security and economic considerations is under way.

We are going to keep relying on our experts. We are going to keep relying on our international considerations with our allies and we are going to make the best decisions for Canadians in due course.

Canada-Quebec Operation High Speed March 26th, 2021

Madam Speaker, on Monday, our government partnered with Quebec to announce something great. A joint investment of over $826 million will enable us to achieve our ambitious goal of connecting all Quebeckers to high-speed Internet by fall 2022.

Canada-Quebec operation high speed will funnel $147.4 million to my region, the Outaouais, to connect 29,000 households across the Pontiac, Vallée-de-la-Gatineau, Collines-de-l'Outaouais, Petite Nation and Gatineau.

This unprecedented new investment signals that regional Internet access is a priority for me as an MP, for Quebec, for Canada and for all Quebeckers and Canadians.

The Outaouais region will receive more funds than other region in Quebec, connecting more homes and businesses than any other in Quebec. There will be $147 million to connect 29,000 homes by September 2022—

Telecommunications March 22nd, 2021

Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear that greater affordability, competition and innovation all across the telecommunications sector in Canada are so important to us as a government just as they are important to Canadians who are concerned about their cellphone bills and their connectivity. These goals are going to be front and centre as we do the analysis necessary to figure out the implications of this proposed deal. The transaction will be reviewed by the CRTC, by the Competition Bureau, by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology and by our own department. The work will be done.

Canadians can be assured that, as consumers, they will be protected as will the public interest be considered all along in these analyses.