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

Mark Salesse February 18th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, on February 6, 2015, Sergeant Mark Salesse, a search and rescue technician based at 17 Wing Winnipeg, passed away during a training mission, as a result of an avalanche in Banff National Park in Alberta.

Sergeant Salesse was originally from Chamberlain Settlement, near Bathurst. He was accompanied by three other ice climbers, who managed to escape without injury.

Forty-four-year-old Sergeant Salesse was the son of Liz Quinn and Maurice Salesse. He loved his job in search and rescue, despite all the associated risks. He loved being able to help people in distress.

To his entire family, including his military family, I want to extend my deepest condolences on behalf of the NDP. I hope his joie de vivre and the love of your family and friends will help ease your grief.

Privilege February 4th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, not only was this a breach of the member's privilege, it was a violation of the law. Allow me to explain. On September 25, 2014, I was on my way to Parliament when I was stopped by the RCMP at the corner of Bank Street and the road that goes to the West Block. The same thing happened to me. That day, when I told the RCMP officer that I was an MP, he replied in English, “I don't care.” I told him that there was going to be a vote in the House of Commons. He replied, “I don't care.” I asked him what he would do if the vote caused Parliament to fall. He replied, “I don't care about the Parliament.”

There is a fundamental problem. I would like to read this definition of parliamentary privilege:

Pursuant to parliamentary privilege, the holder has full access at all times, without obstacle or interference, to the house of Parliament the holder is a member of.

Government MPs seem to be saying that he did not have his pin. The RCMP officers outside and the security guards inside are here to keep parliamentarians safe. How likely is it that the RCMP guy outside did not know the member? His job is to know all members of Parliament as well as our House of Commons security guards do. Since the Speaker of the House ruled in my favour on September 25, a motion was moved in the House of Commons. It went to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Now it is February 4, 2015, and we have not yet received the committee's report because they are blocking the committee's report.

We are not saying that we should have all of the rights in the world, but since the member was elected by his constituents, he has the right to enter the House of Commons at any time. The Parliament of Canada Act makes it clear that we cannot be prevented from entering.

I want our colleagues to understand that the member was at the door and clearly told the RCMP officer that there were security guards just on the other side of the door who know him and the officer simply needed to verify with them. For the RCMP officer to turn around and say that they are in charge and the member cannot enter and to refuse to check with the security guards on the other side of the door constitutes a breach of the member's parliamentary privilege, and that is serious. It is very serious. We have a right to be here. The people in charge of security within the parliamentary precinct should know all members. It is a right and a privilege, and I hope you will find that there has been a violation of the Parliament of Canada Act.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, talking about getting the job done, the member from the Conservative Party will agree that a cut to health care by $36 billion got the job done. Cutting postal worker door-to-door delivery got the job done. Where there used to be a person delivering mail to people's doors, now those people are having to go out to get their mail. Moving the retirement age from 65 to 67 got the job done. That is a good record for the Conservative government.

However, on the case before us today, we are here not only for action, but to talk. In a democracy we have the right to talk. The premiers of the country have asked to meet with the Prime Minister to talk about their issues, but he has refused. That is an insult to every premier.

Business of Supply January 29th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have been a member of Parliament for many years, and this is the first time in Canada's history that a prime minister has refused to meet with the provincial premiers. Nevertheless, we are a federation. The leader of our country does not want to meet with the leaders of each province.

This begs the question: is the Prime Minister the type of person who does not like criticism? Can he take criticism? Is that why he also has difficulty meeting with journalists? He could cut himself off from everything going on around him. You might say that he wants to isolate himself.

If he had the opportunity to hop on a plane every week and travel around the world, to be in the news and meet with leaders of other countries, he would do it. However, he refuses to meet with the leaders of our own provinces to solve our economic and social problems. That is how he is not living up to his responsibilities as the Prime Minister of Canada.

Business of Supply January 27th, 2015

Mr. Speaker, I have a feeling of déjà vu when I listen to the Liberals. In 1992—quite some time ago—when they were in opposition, Brian Mulroney was the prime minister and many cuts were being made, the Liberals said that they wanted to get elected so that they could do things differently. They said that they wanted to take care of the middle class.

They made cuts to unemployment insurance and stole $57 billion from workers to balance the budget. They said that they would not do that. In 1998, they cut CBC's budget by $357 million, so that it could no longer function. Then, the Conservatives cut CBC's budget by an additional $115 million. In 1994, the Liberals made such drastic cuts to health care spending that they made our health care system sick.

At the time, the Liberals were saying that they wanted to replace the Conservatives because the Conservatives were not on the right track. The Liberals said that they wanted to do better.

My question for the Liberals is this: are they still the same Liberals or have they changed? After all that, there was the sponsorship scandal. I think that the Liberals need to be honest with Canadians and tell them that if they are elected, they are going to forget all about Canadians six months after the election, like they did in 1993.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation December 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, whether in Moncton or Fredericton, the regional news is sacred. It is sacred because it tells us about what is happening in our own language. Urban centres have the right to that; the regions should have the same right.

There is a reason why the federal court confirmed in September that the CBC/Radio-Canada is subject to the Official Languages Act. It is a means of promoting our official languages. Gutting it will harm the development of Canada's linguistic duality.

When will the minister finally understand that Radio-Canada belongs to all Canadians and that it is their responsibility?

Official Languages December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have never heard so many contradictions.

The National Energy Board has a fundamental duty to represent Canadians in both official languages. The parliamentary secretary is telling us that francophones can get sections of the documents on the company's website. Francophones in Quebec, New Brunswick and elsewhere in the country will not have the same information as anglophones.

There is a reason that the Commissioner of Official Languages is investigating this. It would not be the first time that the Conservative government has violated the Official Languages Act. This is the same government that has refused to allow the Standing Committee on Official Languages to sit since September. It has done everything possible to prevent us from doing our work on official languages. This shows a complete lack of respect.

Once again, Quebeckers, New Brunswickers and people in northern Ontario and Manitoba will not have the information. The government is wrong. The National Energy Board has a fundamental duty to provide the documents in both official languages, and it comes under the government. Forget this idea of independence. We must have the documents in both official languages. This is against the law.

Official Languages December 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today because I asked a question last week about the energy east pipeline that TransCanada wants to run from western Canada to eastern Canada.

My question was as follows:

Mr. Speaker, francophones are being treated like second-class citizens in the energy east pipeline debate. It is unacceptable that the National Energy Board is not being required to provide all documents in both official languages. The issues are too important and the people must have their say. The documents must be available in both official languages and have the same authority. Will the government finally put its foot down and require the board to respect francophones?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources replied:

Mr. Speaker, the National Energy Board has fulfilled its requirements under the Official Languages Act. Any documents produced by the National Energy Board must be published in both official languages. Questions related to documents filed by the applicant should be directed to the project proponent.

I do not think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources is very familiar with this file. We know that TransCanada submitted 30,000 pages of documents to the National Energy Board concerning the energy east project. A complaint was filed and TransCanada agreed to have the documents translated. However, the National Energy Board said it would not accept that and the only documents that it would accept and that would have authority were the ones in English. The only legal documents were to be the English ones. This is déjà vu.

As members may remember, we had a debate on documents about soldiers in Afghanistan. The documents were tabled in English or French, but not all of them had been translated into the other language. A complaint was made to the Commissioner of Official Languages. Even Parliament has to follow that rule. It has to produce its documents in both official languages. They were obliged to do the translation so that the documents would be legal. We are not second-class citizens. The people of Quebec whom I talk to, including farmers around Quebec City, are concerned. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage certainly knows that. These people have the right to see the documents and to use them just as anglophones do. This is completely unacceptable and it is against the law.

In her answer, the minister said:

Mr. Speaker, the National Energy Board has fulfilled its requirements under the Official Languages Act. Any documents produced by the National Energy Board must be published in both official languages.

She admitted that it has to be in both official languages. Once again this evening, my question is this: will they admit that the law was broken? Will francophone citizens across Canada have the same opportunity as anglophones to see the document in both official languages? In our country, the law on official languages is very clear.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, from an economic perspective, what the government should have done in the budget was to transfer funds to agencies such as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, ACOA, or the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, so that economic development can be carried out locally, in our regions. This is something that we need.

Secondary and tertiary processing of our natural resources is necessary. Natural resources from our regions are shipped to other countries where they are processed and then sold back to us. Why could we not do the processing ourselves? Both the community and the industry would benefit from this kind of economic development. In fact, it would be profitable for everyone.

When we discuss these matters with business people in our regions, they tell us that all this red tape is an obstacle to development. This is how they see things. Regarding infrastructure investment, we can talk about ports and airports. As for our region, I can mention the port of Belledune and the Bathurst airport. How many times have we asked for money for the airport?

Investment in infrastructure is the kind of action that is needed for economic development in our regions. This is not something that is in the budget. The budget should contain measures that are designed to help our regions.

Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 2 December 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP and the party have been very clear that the retirement age of 67 that the Conservative government has put in place will go back to 65. We are proud of that, because people who are working for big companies and the government and have pension plans will still be able to retire when they have 30 or 40 years of service.

However, there are people who have worked for many years for different companies who do not have pension plans at age 65. People will agree with me when I say that I do not see the majority of people who work in fish plants being able to work until the age of 67. They have a hard time working until age 65. The Conservative government has put the burden on the provinces, because people will end up on welfare. Instead of being on welfare from the age of 61 to 65, they will be on welfare until the age of 67.

The cost burden will go to the provinces, and it is going to be a disaster for all provinces across this country when this change takes place. I am proud that New Democrats will not do that when we become government in 2015.