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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was languages.

Last in Parliament October 2015, as NDP MP for Acadie—Bathurst (New Brunswick)

Won his last election, in 2011, with 70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Fisheries and Oceans June 17th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, after several years before the courts, there is still no resolution in the case of Cyrenus Dugas, a fisherman from New Brunswick, and his snow crab licence. Fisheries and Oceans Canada would not allow him to transfer his fishing licence. However, it appears that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has authorized the licence to be transferred on the basis of incorrect information and despite the fact that the transfer is still before the Court of Appeal.

Why does the minister not respect the legal process? Why was it so urgent to transfer this fishing licence?

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, who we have heard are the organizations and leaders of the aboriginal peoples. Everybody is asking for an inquiry and the Conservative government has refused it. Those people want to have an inquiry.

This question is the same as my first one. Why do the Conservatives believe they have it all when the rest of the country is saying differently? They are saying that they want a study and they want to do it. It is the same thing as with this bill here. We want to make some amendments. They are not amendments to make it worse, but to make it better and to be fair.

You just close their eyes to that. It is like Parliament does not exist to you people.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act June 16th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we have Parliament. We have committees. Bill S-7 comes from the Senate. Why all this work?

The NDP requested a couple of changes, amendments, and the Conservatives said, “No, no, no. It's our bill and it's not touchable.”

Why are they not open to some changes and amendments to really have the support of the whole House on the bill?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns June 15th, 2015

With regard to government funding for the constituency of Acadie-Bathurst for each fiscal year since 2007-2008 inclusively: (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions and loans to any organization, body or group, broken down by (i) the name of the recipient, (ii) the municipality in which the recipient is located, (iii) the date on which funding was received, (iv) the amount received, (v) the department or agency providing the funding, (vi) the program under which the grant, contribution or loan was made, (vii) the nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?

Business of Supply June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about money. Does he know what premium means? Those premiums are money on the payroll of the employee and the employer so that they have some money to find jobs and feed their families. The Liberals stole over $57 billion from the employment insurance fund, and the Conservatives, who said when they took over that they would not do it, had a $3-billion surplus, and the government is saying now that it has a $1.4 billion surplus, but that comes, again, from the employment insurance fund.

When will be the day when the government will respect working people? Is it only businesses that have to be okay? The government says it is close to families but keeps cutting them and hurting their ability to feed their families. Are you not ashamed of that? That is what your Conservative government has done. It is the same as the Liberals.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, successive Conservative and Liberal governments over the past several years have not found a solution for seasonal workers. What does this mean for my region and everywhere else in Canada?

I have travelled around all the provinces, from Newfoundland to Vancouver, and I hosted 54 meetings with people from 21 different regions. When employers lose trained staff, it is hard for them to find new workers who can work on a production line in a fish plant, for example. Not just anyone can walk into a restaurant and know how to do what needs to be done. Not just anyone can become a logger. Those kinds of employers have lost good workers.

As another example, no one becomes a fisher overnight. It takes months to become a good fisher. Some regions have lost skilled fishers. People were fed up, so they went to work in western Canada, and now our employers are suffering because of decisions made by previous Liberal and Conservative governments.

Today, we are still paying the price. We need to find a solution for seasonal workers. We need to find a way to help that industry, instead of hiring temporary foreign workers and saying that Canadians will not work.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, if the NDP government in the member's province has done that, it is wrong, because we should support the workers and give them what should come to them.

Regarding Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien, if they said they did the job as they did, they did it by stealing the money from the workers. There was $57 billion that came from employment insurance. They were bragging in this House that they had a zero deficit and that they had a surplus. At that time, there was a $7-billion surplus every year that came from the workers, men and women who lost their jobs. They have nothing to brag about Jean Chrétien. They have nothing to brag about Paul Martin, when he was not even paying his own taxes in our country.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to speak on the subject of employment insurance.

Workers across the country who know me know that I came to Parliament in 1997 the day we booted out Doug Young because he and the Liberals made changes to the employment insurance program in 1996.

I would like to talk about what led up to that event and read from a letter by a former Canadian prime minister, Jean Chrétien, to a group of workers in Rivière-du-Loup. The letter was written on February 17, 1993, and it was about unemployment insurance. I like to call a spade a spade, and I would rather talk about unemployment insurance than employment insurance. Here is how the letter goes:

The Liberals are dismayed by these measures. By reducing benefits and further penalizing those who voluntarily leave their jobs, clearly the government [it was the Conservative government then] cares very little for the victims of the economic crisis. Instead of attacking the real problem, it is attacking the unemployed. These measures will have a disturbing impact, for they will discourage workers from reporting harassment cases and unacceptable conditions in the workplace.

That was the former prime minister of Canada, Jean Chrétien, who said that. He was elected because of it. At the time, Doug Young, the former Liberal MP, did not have nice things to say about the Conservatives. On July 31, 1989, he told Acadie Nouvelle that he was urging all New Brunswickers to fight tooth and nail against changes to employment insurance because they would be disastrous for New Brunswick.

Yes, it has been a disaster for New Brunswick. In September or October 1993, the Liberals took office. They discovered that the employment insurance fund could be the government's cash cow. Money was coming in from all over the place. They said they needed even more, and in 1996, they made some huge budget cuts and introduced the 420-hour and 910-hour conditions to be eligible for EI. Whereas in the past 82% of workers had been eligible for EI, at that point only 38% were eligible.

The biggest pilfering of the EI fund happened under the Liberals, who helped themselves to $57 billion. That is right, $57 billion was taken from the EI fund. The Liberals' defence, however, was that the government was running a deficit and cuts had to be made somewhere. They made cuts to EI and to health care. In 1994, Paul Martin made Canada's health care system sick. At a time when the federal government was paying 50% of health care costs in each province, the Liberal government cut that down to 15%. Then the Liberals went after the CBC and cut $350 million there.

Next came the Conservatives, who said that they did not want to steal from employment insurance and that they would make some changes. They proposed a new independent fund—although that would not really be the case—and a new framework. They therefore transferred the $57 billion the Liberals had stolen back into the fund and said they would not touch it again.

The government's latest budget announced a surplus of $3.4 billion in the EI fund. However, the government is reporting a budget surplus of $1.4 billion. If it were to take that $3.4 billion out of the employment insurance fund, the government would be running a deficit. It would not be able to say that it has balanced the budget or all those wonderful things, or everything else it is saying about the EI fund.

It is not the workers who depend on employment insurance, but rather the Conservatives and the Liberals.

I have known the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso for 15 years. I was disappointed when he answered the Conservative member's question on whether or not he agreed that a person should work only 42 weeks a year. Instead of saying no, I would have liked him to say that Nova Scotia has seasonal employment and people who work in the lobster fishery, for example. Sometimes they stop working for three or four weeks. They collect employment insurance and then go back to work. That is what seasonal employment is all about.

The Conservatives made cuts to the employment insurance program. People down east said they could not go on like that, and they left to go work out west. Now we have temporary foreign workers doing the work back home and contributing to EI. When they have an accident, they are put on the next flight home and do not collect a dime of EI. Again, this government is stealing from workers.

Is there something wrong with the NDP motion that the Conservatives cannot support? It seeks to “protect workers' and employers' premiums from political interference”. In this motion we state that we are going to protect workers' premiums. We are going to tell politicians to stop stealing from the employment insurance fund and relying on it, because it belongs to the workers. They are the ones who contribute to it. The Liberals and the Conservatives like to say that employment insurance premiums are a tax. That is false. They should consult a dictionary. It is a premium that people pay in the event they lose their jobs. It is not a tax. They say that the NDP wants to increase employment insurance premiums. The Conservatives had a $7 billion surplus and the Liberals had a $3 billion surplus in the employment insurance fund. The Conservatives lowered corporate taxes by $40 billion at the same time that the banks made $22 billion in profits and their presidents paid themselves $11 million in bonuses. That is another example of money being stolen from Canadians and taxpayers. That is the work of the Conservatives. Shame on them.

Given all that is happening with employment insurance and workers, there is only one thing to say. I once mentioned it to the Prime Minister: what have workers done to the government for the government to hate them so much? With all due respect for employers, how is it that, if one of them runs into difficulty, the government rushes to that employer's aid to make sure that he does not lose his business? However, if a worker loses his job, he is abusing the system. Were it not for workers, the honest men and women who get up every morning and work for those employers, there would be no employers. There would not be any rich people, any millionaires and billionaires. There are now more billionaire CEOs in the world than ever. Some of these people are hiding their money in other countries and not even paying their taxes. Even Paul Martin owned ships that did not fly the Canadian flag and hired cheap labour. He eliminated jobs for workers.

I see these people in my riding. I see women and men who work in fish processing plants. I see people who work in the forest. I meet with them. I meet with people who pick blueberries. I meet with people who cut trees to make Christmas wreaths, who are trying to earn a living and buy food for their children. The Conservatives could not care less about these people. Today we are hearing insult after insult, as we have heard from the minister who represents the riding of Madawaska—Restigouche. He says that people back home have not changed and would rather receive EI so they can hunt and fish instead of working. What an insult to workers. That is unacceptable. They deserve an apology.

The NDP's motion is commendable. It is commendable to say that we will protect workers' premiums. We want to create a system that will guarantee that women and men who lose their jobs will receive an income while they search for another job, instead of being forced to claim social assistance or work in other provinces.

I hope this motion is adopted. I hope that the NDP wins the next election and that the government starts to respect the men and women who get up every morning and work to build this country.

Business of Supply June 8th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member from Nova Scotia rose in the House to again support the Conservatives's attitude, when my colleague asked a question about where to find the number of people who want to work and those who do not want to work.

The last time the Conservative minister from Madawaska—Restigouche was in the House, he said that people back home in New Brunswick have not changed and would rather get EI so they can go hunting and fishing instead of going to work. Again earlier today, the same hon. member who just spoke, the member from Nova Scotia or one of his colleagues, said that the NDP wants people to work 42 weeks a year.

Did you know that you are insulting the workers, the men and women who work in this country? Instead of respecting them, you are saying that workers are a lazy bunch of people who are living on employment insurance.

Do you not realize that you are insulting them?

Acadie—Bathurst June 3rd, 2015

Mr. Speaker, it is with great emotion that I rise to speak today.

It has been an honour for me to represent the people of Acadie—Bathurst and defend the interests of Canadians across the country in the House of Commons these past 18 years. It is not easy to leave this House. I have experienced great moments and felt a lot of emotions in this place, but as I already mentioned, there is a time to begin and a time to leave.

I would like to thank my children, Céline, Nadine and Stéphanie, and also my spouse Lyna and her children, Cindy, Christian and Valérie, who supported me in 1997 when I decided to stand for election for the first time. I would like to thank my staff, Françoise, Roxane, Chantal, Nadine and Sonia, and all those who came before them.

I would like to thank all the House of Commons staff who work behind the scenes: the security services, the interpreters who managed to interpret my heartfelt speeches for 18 years, the maintenance staff and everyone else.

I would like to thank the NDP and my colleagues for accepting me into their big political family.

To the people of Acadie—Bathurst, I say thank you for putting your trust in me. I love you all.