House of Commons photo

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 April 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about the transfer of snow crab fishing licences. The New Brunswick Court of Appeal has already ruled in favour of Cyrenus Dugas, a crab fisher from New Brunswick. That decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2013. However, the case is back before the courts once again.

Can the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans follow the example of her predecessor and wait for the outcome of this case before she gets involved in the transfer of that licence to P.E.I. fishers Peter and Adam Gaudet, or will she respect the court of appeal's decision, which was upheld by the Supreme Court?

Petitions March 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to adopt international aid policies that support small farmers, particularly women, and recognize their vital role in the struggle against hunger and poverty, as well as to ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers, and that they protect the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use and freely exchange seeds.

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act March 12th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, this may not be the last time that I say this, but I have sat in this chamber for 18 years and I have never seen a government that has shown such disrespect for democracy and the institution of Parliament. The government has imposed time allocation 91 times.

I would like to remind the Minister of Immigration that he was formerly the ambassador to Afghanistan. We sent our young soldiers there to fight for democracy, a parliament and freedom of speech for Afghans. This same freedom of speech is not being afforded to us as parliamentarians. It is as though the Conservatives believe that they have all the answers and that they will settle this with an election. Basically they are saying that they do not believe in the democracy of Parliament or in debate and they do not want Canadians to hear arguments against their bill.

However, it is a fundamental right in a democracy and the very purpose of Parliament. I am sure that when the Minister of Immigration was the ambassador to Afghanistan, he fought to give Afghans a parliament and freedom of speech. The Conservatives are stripping us of this constitutional right. What the government is doing is so very wrong. It is regrettable and Canadians are watching. It goes against our country's democratic tradition.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Nova Scotia talks about the jobs created in the Nova Scotia shipbuilding industry. I would like to hear from him how many jobs were created in New Brunswick. In New Brunswick, out of ten members of Parliament, eight come from the Conservative Party. When David Alward was the premier of New Brunswick, he kept asking for help from the federal government, which he never received.

We only have to look at the unemployment rate in the north of New Brunswick, where no jobs have been created. We only have to look at the Conservative cuts to ACOA, a program that could help the small and medium-sized businesses that create 74% of the jobs.

What has the government done in New Brunswick to help with the creation of jobs? Our people have to buy airplane tickets to fly west to work because there are no jobs in New Brunswick.

Correctional Service Canada February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the imminent closure of the Shepody Healing Centre in Dorchester could lead to an increase in deaths of psychiatric patients.

Closing this facility will also give rise to relocation costs for families and the loss of dozens of jobs.

How can the minister even justify closing Shepody when the institution is overflowing?

Why would we believe that it is a good idea to reduce the number of beds when Correctional Service Canada is already having problems dealing with inmates' mental health?

Petitions February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, in the second petition, the petitioners are asking the Government of Canada and the House of Commons to make a commitment to adopt international policies that support small family farmers, especially women, and recognize their vital role in the fight against hunger and poverty and to ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers and that they protect the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use and freely exchange seeds.

Petitions February 26th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the petitioners call upon the government to reject the Canada Post plan for reduced services and to seek other options to upgrade the crown corporation and business plans. That has to do with putting large mailboxes in the city and taking away carriers going from door-to-door.

Business of Supply February 24th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to mix apples with oranges, but when we look at Bill C-51, the Conservatives may limit expert testimony on the anti-terror bill. They may want to limit the number of experts. Canadians want to know more about it and experts want to get involved. In this case, the Conservatives want to shut down the debate.

In the other case, it seems the Conservatives want to open the debate up to 33 million people and they want to take two years if it is possible. However, for the anti-terrorism bill, which Canadians are very concerned about it, they are saying no, that they do not want to hear from them. The Conservatives have the answer.

I would like to hear his comments, especially since his former job was a police officer in the justice system. As a justice person, he should be able to give me a good answer on this.

VIA Rail Canada Act February 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and I would like to commend the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine for this initiative. This bill is very important because it will help protect and improve passenger transportation in Canada. Canadians deserve a suitable, safe and efficient passenger train service, and this bill is the way to fill that need.

Before I forget, I have to say something about the hon. member for Ottawa South. He said that this was a way for the Conservatives to privatize Via Rail and that this was where they were going. I agree with that. That is what all their cuts to Via Rail are leading to. Nonetheless, the Liberals have no lessons to give on this, when they are the ones who privatized CN, a crown corporation. That is where it all started. When they privatized CN they also gave CN priority rights to the tracks.

Take the example of the train that runs between Halifax and Montreal, known as the Ocean. It is an important train for passengers. Our ancestors worked hard to build the railways. At the time, the idea was to develop our country and, at the same time, to provide passenger service for Canadians. I do not believe that our ancestors wondered whether they were going to make money with freight or passenger trains. That is not what they were concerned with. They wanted to give Canadians a service allowing them to travel from one end of the country to the other.

I will just give a small example of what is happening in my area, between Halifax and Montreal. Is it acceptable for the train that leaves Moncton at 3 p.m. to arrive in Bathurst at 8 p.m.? It takes about two hours to travel from Bathurst to Moncton by car. It takes five hours by train. Who wants to ride on a train travelling at 50 kilometres an hour? As everyone knows, there are no freight trains between Miramichi and Bathurst, and the speed limit is 50 kilometres an hour. If you travel by train often enough, you can watch the deer overtake it. Perhaps we could use it to go hunting. The current VIA Rail schedule is really ridiculous.

The government has a responsibility because it is not a private company. It is a crown corporation. I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport tell us that the government should not intervene. It is as though he was saying that the company is already privatized. He is saying that the government does not want to pass legislation to bother VIA Rail. That is ridiculous.

I would like to thank the NDP members from Nova Scotia and Quebec, as well as my colleague from Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, who worked very hard with us to secure the railway between Miramichi and Bathurst. If we had lost this railway, we would have lost VIA Rail between Halifax and Montreal.

We have to try to make them understand that if you take all the people on the Acadian peninsula and in the Gaspé, from Rogersville, Miramichi, Bathurst, Campbellton and Amqui, to Rivière-du-Loup and Rimouski, there are about 300,000 people. The government was eliminating that service. They kept saying:

It is arm's length from the government. We are not allowed to get involved.

It is funny that the $10 million was given by VIA Rail, but it was the minister who came to Fredericton to announce it. The member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe is the one who presented it and then the minister was thanked by the member for Miramichi. The entire Conservative family took credit for a crown corporation that they want to keep at arm's length.

The last person to speak was the president of VIA Rail, who practically thanked the minister for giving him the money. The train is important to us since it has always served the people back home without a car who have to go see a specialist in Moncton, Halifax or Montreal.

However, things changed two years ago when VIA Rail decided to reduce the number of trips to three days a week. Before, a person could leave Bathurst at 8 p.m., arrive in Montreal at 8 a.m. and see a specialist at one or two in the afternoon. Then, at 6:30 p.m., they could board the train back to Bathurst without having to pay for a hotel room in Montreal. This was done in one trip. It is inevitable that there are now fewer passengers on the train.

On Monday morning, because of the storm, I took the Bathurst train. The train left Bathurst at 5:30 a.m. Bathurst is an hour's drive from Campbellton. We got to Campbellton around 7 a.m. and had to stop to fill up with diesel. We were not able to go on until 11 a.m. There was a snowstorm, so I am not blaming VIA Rail, but would that be acceptable in France or the United States?

The bill introduced by my colleague from Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine would give passenger trains priority on the tracks, but the Conservatives seem to think that is some kind of sin and believe that passengers should have the right of way to travel.

When I travelled to France and other places, I found that the passenger trains were given priority and that they were full. As a result, there are fewer cars on the road, which is better for the environment. That is not the case here. Not only are passenger trains not given priority, but the government does not care about them at all. The government is taking funding away from VIA Rail, saying that the company should be able to support itself and even make a profit.

That is not the vision that our forebears had for VIA Rail when they put trains on the tracks. They wanted to provide a service to all Canadian taxpayers. The politicians at that time were not thinking about taking money from taxpayers. Quebeckers and Canadians want this service. They do not mind contributing to a railway that runs from one end of the country to the other. It is shameful that the government is not supporting VIA Rail's projects. I am proud that the NDP members are saying that they will support VIA Rail.

The least they could do is vote to ensure that this bill can be studied in committee, where they can find a way to refocus VIA Rail's vision on providing services to Canadians. I am proud of the fight we led to maintain VIA Rail service between Halifax and Montreal. In Bathurst, Rogersville, Halifax, Campbellton and Miramichi, people spoke up to say that they wanted VIA Rail and passenger rail service. The government cannot ignore that. Let us hope that the government does not follow the example of the Liberals, who were champions of privatizing our crown corporations. As a result, we have now lost them all.

I sincerely hope that this bill passes at second reading and that it goes to committee so that we can hear from experts.

If the Conservatives cannot support it, it is because in their minds, this is just like Canada Post; they want to privatize all of our crown corporations. That is not the Canada I want to live in.

Justice February 20th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal has six judges. At present, there are three anglophone and two francophone judges. The Association des juristes d'expression française du Nouveau-Brunswick is justified in asking that the next judge be a francophone, so that both communities have equal representation.

Will the minister undertake to appoint a francophone to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal and promise not to pick from the list of Conservative organizers, as they did with Justice Richard Bell?