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March

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    MPlib
    Mar 11, 2015 3:35 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I have no problem proceeding in this fashion. I will be voting in favour.

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    MPlib
    Mar 10, 2015 12:00 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, according to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, pension income splitting benefits the wealthiest seniors disproportionately.

    Of the families that benefit from this tax break, only 10% of the wealthiest benefit fully, at a cost of $1.2 billion per year, while 70% of seniors enjoy no benefit at all from this measure. It is clear that the government has no plan whatsoever for seniors living below the poverty line in Canada.

    When will the Minister of State for Seniors do something for seniors who really need help?

February

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    MPlib
    Feb 16, 2015 11:55 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, various free trade agreements are currently being discussed, and the opening of international markets could have a serious impact on small and medium-sized businesses in Canada if they are not prepared for it. The global markets action plan does not include any concrete measures specifically for SMEs.

    With several agreements about to be implemented, we are still wondering if the government plans to develop a strategy to help SMEs manage the risks associated with international trade.

    Can the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism explain why he is leaving SMEs to fend for themselves?

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    MPlib
    Feb 05, 2015 12:05 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, in 2002, 40% of Canada's tourism revenue came from international tourism. Today that number has dropped by 20%.

    The hotel association is asking the government to increase the tourism marketing budget to attract more international tourists. Funding for the Canadian Tourism Commission has been shrinking since 2010.

    When will the minister make appropriate investments in marketing tourism internationally to raise Canada's profile as a tourism destination of choice?

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    MPlib
    Feb 04, 2015 3:45 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I have no problem with proceeding in this manner. I will vote in favour of the motion.

January

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    MPlib
    Jan 27, 2015 12:05 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, over the past five years, this government has spent over half a billion dollars on the children's fitness tax credit. Its attempt to get young Canadians to be more active has failed. According to Active Healthy Kids Canada's 2014 report card, only 5% of young Canadians meet the Canadian guidelines for physical activity.

    What we need are better-funded, more accessible sports programs with modern infrastructure. When will this government take action to improve young Canadians' physical fitness?

December

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    MPlib
    Dec 08, 2014 10:55 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, on November 2, school board elections were held across Quebec.

    As a former school board trustee, I know the kind of impact these elections will have on our children's future. School board trustee is a very important local position that does not always get the credit it deserves.

    My riding is served by three school boards in two languages, and I would like to thank all the candidates who put their names forward. Election night saw familiar faces return and new faces emerge, and it even saw one tie, proving once and for all that every vote counts.

    I want to thank all the outgoing trustees for their dedication, and I want to congratulate Mohamed Maazami and Kenneth George, who will serve as trustees for Saint-Michel on the French Montreal school board.

    I would also like to thank Patricia Lattanzio in Saint-Léonard and Dominic Furfaro in Saint-Michel, who will serve as trustees at the English Montreal School Board.

    I also want to thank Vincenzo Galati and Leonardo Ragusa, who were elected as trustees for Saint-Léonard on the Pointe-de-l'Île school board.

    Lastly, I want to extend my best wishes to Chantal Harel-Bourdon, Angela Mancini and Miville Boudreault, who were elected as chairs of these three school boards.

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    MPlib
    Dec 03, 2014 3:00 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I do not have a problem with this way of doing things, but I will be voting no.

November

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    MPlib
    Nov 24, 2014 12:05 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, according to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Canada has 25 recognized geographic indicators. In the 2004 agreement with the European Union, only 9 of the 25 indicators were protected in the European Union, but we recognized more than 1,400.

    Recently, in the free trade agreement, this government recognized an additional 179 European geographic indicators, but we got no additional protection for our products.

    Is there a reason why this government is refusing to protect Canadian products internationally?

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    MPlib
    Nov 18, 2014 11:00 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, in 1995, thousands of kids were born in Montreal, including my son, Carlo. Five years later, my son and roughly 50 other kids signed up to play amateur hockey for the very first time, in Saint-Leonard, and got to benefit from my stellar coaching.

    One of those kids I coached, Anthony Duclair, made it to the NHL this year as a member of the New York Rangers. Congratulations, Anthony. It would be easy to say that I knew back then that he would make it, but the reality is that Anthony and his childhood teammates were just like millions of other young Canadian athletes. There is no way to tell where youth sports will take them. A select few will make it to the highest levels, while the vast majority will not, but this does not make some better than the others. What really matters is that they all got the opportunity to learn important life skills through amateur sports.

    Anthony, through years of hard work, has earned every bit of success he is achieving. I am certain that his parents and everyone who helped him along the way are filled with pride seeing him reach these new heights, myself included.

    To my son Carlo and all of Anthony's pre-novice teammates, the job market out there is pretty rough, so do not forget the life skills learned at the rink. They will be needed.

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    MPlib
    Nov 18, 2014 7:05 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I have a few petitions here to present.

    I would like to begin by thanking Donald Haney, Pierrette Desrosiers and Monique Desrochers for sending me these petitions regarding the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

    The petitioners are saying that our national broadcaster is a key player that fulfills an important role in showcasing the reality of Canada's regions. They are also saying that our public broadcaster reflects our diverse realities and can benefit from a shared national spirit.

    The petitioners are therefore calling on the Government of Canada to maintain stable and predictable long-term core funding for the public broadcaster, including English and French radio, in support of its unique and crucial role.

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    MPlib
    Nov 05, 2014 1:05 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    With regard to materials prepared for deputy heads or their staff from June 4, 2014 to the present: for every briefing document prepared, what is (i) the date on the document, (ii) the title or subject matter of the document, (iii) the department’s internal tracking number?

October

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    MPlib
    Oct 30, 2014 1:05 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

    If the government will not listen to the NDP and the Liberal Party, maybe it will listen to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who came up with the estimates.

    I might have gone a little too fast, so I can redo the math, but it is just like my colleague said. The government's new employment insurance reform will cost $500 million and will create just 800 jobs. If you divide $550 million by 800 jobs, that means each job will cost $700,000. That makes no sense.

    That $500 million could be invested in ridings like the one represented by my colleague from Sudbury, or the Island of Montreal, where unemployment rates are a little too high. That way, we could train our young people so that they can find sustainable jobs for the future.

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    MPlib
    Oct 30, 2014 12:50 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, we are here to debate Bill C-43 to implement certain provisions of the 2014 budget. I am pleased to be able to speak on this subject.

    First, I believe that it is logical to oppose bills like this one that are too big. This bill addresses too many subjects that have nothing to do with the budget. As a result, we do not have enough time to analyze and thoroughly debate the bill. By way of evidence, this bill corrects a number of previous bills that contained disparate elements.

    We have come to expect omnibus bills from this government, and that is something that I find unacceptable in a country like Canada. Today, we are not only debating the implementation of the budget, but also amendments to the Criminal Code, patents, aeronautics and telecommunications, employment insurance and social assistance, which the government wants to take away from part of the population. I am not the only one to point out the Conservatives' lack of respect for democracy.

    To come back to the bill before us today, I believe that it contains initiatives and measures that are not in line with the pressing needs of the middle class. The bill offers tax credits here and there, but we can already predict that they will be useless, outdated and impractical.

    I find it disappointing that the government ignores what the public wants when drafting a document as important as a budget. We need a much more ambitious plan in order to offer middle-class families better opportunities, while doing everything we can to foster sustainable economic growth.

    One of the measures in the bill that I would like to speak about today is the increase in the child fitness tax credit from $76 to $150. This increase is one of the new income tax measures. As the sport critic, I am pleased to speak about this initiative.

    During the 2011 election, the Conservatives' platform indicated that this measure would cost approximately $130 million a year. The government now expects it to cost only $35 million a year, even though this tax credit will be refundable every year. The fact that the government lowered the estimated cost of this initiative shows that it already knows that this increased tax credit will not increase our children's physical activity.

    Of course, no one is against costs that are lower than planned, and no one is against additional tax credits. However, I strongly believe that if the measure already in place did not achieve the goal of making young people more active, then the proposal to increase the tax credit will not really encourage more people to use it to improve their children's health.

    The participation rate in organized sports is going down, not up. The only year when there was an increase in the past 10 or 15 years was in 2003. We know what happened: in 2002, during the Winter Olympics, the men's and women's hockey teams won gold medals. We expect to see increased participation in organized sports this year because Canada won medals in hockey and curling. There will be just a slight increase in participation. We do not expect this increase in the tax credit to increase the number of children registered for sports such as hockey in the long term.

    This shows that the government is not listening. This initiative is not the help that Canadian families need to motivate young people to be physically active. I know the benefits of physical activity, and I think we need to assess certain policies and improve them or even replace them when they are not working.

    It has been proven that being active plays a very important part in reducing the long-term risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.

    According to a document produced by the Conference Board of Canada, inactivity is a serious problem for everyone. The document says that “sitting is being called the 'new smoking'”.

    This is a problem that affects both adults and children, who are becoming increasingly focused on and influenced by technology. This is a social crisis that affects us all. Computers and televisions are creating a generation of young people who remain seated and who do not move enough.

    Unfortunately, I see the child fitness tax credit as a relatively ineffective and impractical tax measure.

    A real initiative to encourage young Canadians to get into shape would involve resources on many different levels. Various Canadian sports organizations wanted the federal government to invest a significant amount of money in infrastructure for various sports.

    I have to wonder how much the government has set aside to refurbish or build sports infrastructure over the next few years. Has the government set aside any money, and could this government commit to doing more and doing a better job at getting our young people moving? I think it is the government's responsibility to look at the programs it develops and eliminate them when they do not achieve their objectives.

    I enjoy sports and this topic is important to me, so I am aware of the urgent needs in the sports world. The most common concern is the lack of infrastructure and resources. We are lacking resources to better train our coaches and enable elite athletes to continue to train in the future.

    Massive, direct investments in sports infrastructure could play a big part in getting Canadians back in shape. I urge the government to act now for the well-being of all young Canadians.

    Another important aspect of the bill that I would like to debate is the amendment to the Employment Insurance Act. This new employment credit is for small businesses that pay less than $15,000 in EI premiums annually. According to government estimates, this credit will cost $550 million over the next two years. Again according to government estimates, this initiative could create approximately 800 jobs over the next two years.

    However, this is another useless and ill-conceived measure by this government. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, each one of the jobs created will cost about $700,000. Some experts even believe that this credit will eliminate jobs, which goes against its main objective. This is not really the help that the Canadian middle class is looking for.

    The Liberal Party proposed a two-year premium exemption for every new job created by small businesses. We believe that companies that create new jobs should be compensated and that we should not run the risk of losing jobs or driving down salaries because of a bad tax credit.

    The Liberal Party believes that we must focus on job creation for the middle class and on economic growth. We can only build a strong and growing economy by addressing Canadians' concerns and listening to what they want. The government is completely out of touch with Canadians and is not offering any major, practical solutions to spur economic growth.

    In closing, I believe that Bill C-43 does not meet Canadians' expectations. The government must do better when it comes to investing in infrastructure, investing in education by working with the provinces to promote accessibility, and developing real initiatives to create jobs in Canada. Furthermore, I believe that the government should sit down with the provinces and consider the different problems they are facing.

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    MPlib
    Oct 30, 2014 9:05 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is nothing urgent, but as my colleague from Winnipeg North did previously, I would ask for unanimous consent for the following motion: That the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented on Tuesday, September 30, 2014, be concurred in.

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    MPlib
    Oct 29, 2014 1:45 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for a good speech. I know he only had a 20-minute opportunity to speak.

    He talked about the lack of infrastructure investment the government has made and continues to make. In his conversations during the pre-budget consultations, did he consult his own mayors and the premier in his own province? What is their input? What are the discussions involving infrastructure?

    Every time I talk to a local mayor or a local politician or somebody at the provincial level, it is always about lack of infrastructure. Whether it is in my province of Quebec or not, I hear that the Canadian government is not in partnership in any projects and that it is reducing investments in programs.

    I wonder what the member thinks about the lack of money in infrastructure.

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    MPlib
    Oct 28, 2014 11:00 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, October 22, a tragic scene took place at the National War Memorial, when Corporal Nathan Cirillo was senselessly struck down performing a ceremonial duty on behalf of all Canadians. Today, Corporal Cirillo is being laid to rest in Hamilton and we unite as a nation to grieve.

    We are thinking of Corporal Cirillo's family and the family of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was killed two days earlier in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

    Let us keep them in our thoughts for it is they who have been forced to endure the greatest loss of all.

    It is my hope that these tragedies are a thing of the past, but that we remember and learn from them. The sacrifice of Corporal Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent's lives demand no less.

    Today, we are mourning the loss of one of our sons, and we offer our deepest condolences to his loved ones.

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    MPlib
    Oct 10, 2014 9:25 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for a good speech. I know he made it low key.

    With his experience, I want to give him a chance to explain. Since the current government has been in place, has he seen other examples of bills, whether we call them omnibus, Trojan horses, or any of the other words we have used, that have been totally unacceptable and have only succeeded in dividing the House instead of trying to work for Canadians?

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    MPlib
    Oct 10, 2014 8:20 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry has already said that copyright matters to Canadian businesses that drive our economy. It seems that will not apply if the businesses are news organizations and the Conservative Party wants to steal their content for its ads. It is a tactic that we only see in banana republics.

    Will the government drop this mean-spirited, unfair plan?

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    MPlib
    Oct 07, 2014 2:45 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, we were having a discussion in this corner and wondering what happened to violin day. Some people say that the fiddle and the violin are the same. Could the member expand on that? How about some of the other stringed instruments?

    I am a piano player myself, but I would never present piano day. If members ever heard me play piano, they would not want to have a piano day.

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    MPlib
    Oct 07, 2014 2:15 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, as the member is a former national defence critic, what does he see as our military's role? How does he see the Liberal Party taking a role in this mission?

    Second, he just spoke about the Prime Minister and, as many of us have said, the lack of trust or transparency the Prime Minister has shown. Could he expand on that?

September

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    MPlib
    Sep 30, 2014 10:10 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, that is a great question, but it cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. It is a double-edged sword because some areas of technology require us to intervene pretty much right away. During testimony before the Standing Committee on International Trade, people from the technology sector said that they cannot wait years, as was the case during the softwood lumber dispute, which was dragged through the courts for years. Canadian technology companies like BlackBerry expect disputes to be resolved pretty quickly. They need a system that can hear both sides and reach a verdict as soon as possible.

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    MPlib
    Sep 30, 2014 10:00 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to debate Bill C-41 on the Canada-Korea free trade agreement.

    The Liberal Party and I support the initiatives that lead to free trade agreements. There are definitely many advantages to free trade agreements, and it goes without saying that Canada's economy gains strength when markets are opened. That is why we will support the bill to establish a partnership between South Korea and Canada.

    We believe that it is important to establish a special relationship with South Korea, since we do more than $10.8 billion of bilateral merchandise trade with this country. Furthermore, South Korea already has free trade agreements with the European Union and the United States, which is an incentive for us to act quickly. We are now playing catch-up. We could end up at a serious disadvantage if we delay an agreement with South Korea even further.

    Canada already lost more than 30% of its share of the South Korean market when South Korea signed agreements with the United States, the European Union and Australia. Since negotiations have been going on for nearly 10 years, we sincerely hope that this agreement will take effect quickly. Strategically, we are lagging far behind on markets we should already have access to.

    This is the first free trade agreement that establishes an agreement with an Asian country, yet our primary trading countries are Asian countries, including Japan, China and Korea. The government is lacking a clear vision when it comes time to targeting new markets or quickly carving out a space in emerging markets.

    The government boasts about signing free trade agreements, as we saw with the last member who spoke, but we have had some significant trade deficits since 2009. The announcement of a free trade agreement with South Korea will not magically fix that situation, as the Conservative government hopes. We think that the government needs to commit resources and make investments to increase trade.

    For example, since the free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States was established, Canadian pork producers have lost the Korean market to the United States. This situation is unacceptable. We should have acted much more quickly before these kinds of things happened. Now that the agreement has been signed, this government has the duty to protect these industries and ensure that they regain their market share.

    As the Liberal critic for small business, I am aware of the importance of this agreement for Canadian workers. Removing tariffs is often the support small and medium businesses want, to ensure that they have an equal chance of being competitive on the markets. The agreement can only help Canadian companies doing business with South Korea and the many subcontractors involved.

    This agreement is even more beneficial when you take into account that the customs tariffs imposed by South Korea are about three times higher than Canada's, and they will be eliminated, on different schedules, once the agreement is in effect. These are small things that will matter a lot at the end of the year for Canadian small and medium-sized businesses.

    I am pleased to hear the news for Canadian entrepreneurs who do business with South Korea, but I hope it is not too late for those who would like to enter the Korean market. Indeed, the various competitors from other countries have already become well-established since the signing of free trade agreements that preceded ours.

    From another perspective, what concerns me about the free trade agreement between Canada and South Korea is the current situation with the Canadian automobile industry and what will happen once this agreement is implemented. The Canadian and North American auto market has already been significantly infiltrated by Korean vehicles.

    About 100,000 Korean vehicles worth $2.6 billion are imported into Canada annually, while Canadian or North American vehicles do not really reach the Korean market. One hundred or so Canadian vehicles worth about $12.5 million are exported annually to South Korea.

    Objectively speaking, it would be wrong to believe that free trade will create a balance. The government is really turning its back on the auto industry under this agreement.

    In the final agreement summary, only South Korean imports from Canada are mentioned. There is no mention of Canadian imports from South Korea. We can therefore neither compare nor see the scale of the imbalance.

    The government has gotten us used to that kind of thing: hiding important information to make it easier to pass bills that might be controversial. My concern is that the gap will only grow wider.

    According to Unifor, Canadian auto sector imports from South Korea have increased by 1,010% since 1997. In that sector, the benefits are exclusively South Korea's. A greater number of Korean cars will enter the Canadian market, and it will get harder and harder to compete.

    Another important and interesting aspect of the bill we are debating today is that it would not change anything in terms of intellectual property. Since becoming a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, I have seen how big a global issue this has become. There are increasing demands to improve intellectual property protection, and there is a lot of pressure around that in various agreements.

    From negotiations with the European Union to creating a trans-Pacific partnership, there is always disagreement about intellectual property. The surprising thing is that when a country complies with international intellectual property protection standards, a negotiating partner can ask it to do even more than the good things it is already doing, can expect all the parties to an agreement to use the same system. I am surprised but pleased to see that a free trade agreement that respects each country's system can happen.

    Will the government be able to respect and protect our own Canadian standards as it negotiates agreements with the European Union and the countries working on a trans-Pacific partnership? It is difficult to tell at the moment, but our preliminary information suggests that the European Union's high expectations regarding intellectual property seem to be finding their way into the final agreement.

    Over the course of the committee meetings, we repeatedly heard concerns about increased protection for intellectual property from representatives of various fields, including the pharmaceutical field.

    Just this week, since the text of the final Canada-EU agreement was released, Canadians have already expressed concern about the potential increase in costs for drugs, as well as the possibility of higher costs in our health care system. I sincerely hope that their concerns will be taken seriously by this government.

    To get back to the bill being debated today, I wish to support it so that it can be sent to committee for further study. I hope that we will have the viewpoints of all the sectors and stakeholders of society in the testimony at committee.

    I hope that this agreement will not add significantly to the imbalance we can see in the automotive sector or that the government will at least keep an eye on the health of the Canadian sector.

    I also hope that this agreement will help Canadian businesses by fostering more and more trade between the two countries. I think the elimination of trade barriers can only benefit the majority of Canadian businesses.

    As I said before, such agreements have significant repercussions on local entrepreneurs. In fact, customs tariffs alone can account for many unnecessary direct and indirect expenses for small businesses.

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Sep 30, 2014 9:55 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, the member said that when the Liberals were in government, they had a difficult time with trade agreements.

    However, I am looking at the statistics since 2003. For the years 2004 through 2008, on average, we had a trade surplus of at least $50 billion per year. Then from 2008 to 2011 and all the way to 2013, there was only one year when we had maybe half a billion dollars of trade deficit. In all the other years, we are looking huge amounts of deficit in trade.

    Would the member agree that the trade agreements they are signing are insignificant and are maybe not doing the job?

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    MPlib
    Sep 19, 2014 8:35 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives do not seem to be acknowledging the clear consensus throughout the country, namely that investing in infrastructure plays a significant role in economic growth.

    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, David Dodge, the Canada West Foundation, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Labour Congress, the C.D. Howe Institute and all of the provinces and territories are calling for action from this government. In response, the Conservatives have cut funding to infrastructure by 90%.

    Will the Conservatives reverse these irresponsible cuts?

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Sep 16, 2014 2:50 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise to speak to Bill C-587.

    I have a couple of brief comments. I think a few Liberals have already spoken to this bill, and as usual, we are looking a bills being presented by the government more out of a fear factor than anything else. Also as usual, the Liberals have to have a proper balance between two sides.

    We are going to be supporting the bill, knowing that it is going to committee. There we can review some of the issues surrounding the changes to the Criminal Code that are proposed in this private members' bill. Private members' bills are usually drafted with limited resources and are limited in scope, so we are hoping that the bill does not go beyond the intended scope, deals with the matters at hand, and does not involve any of the areas where it is not meant to be. Liberals will be trying to improve the bill by making sure that all stakeholders are properly represented and that any amendments that are required are at least considered by the government.

    Basically the bill would increase parole ineligibility from 25 years to a maximum of 40 years if a person is convicted of such things as abduction, sexual assault, and murder of the same victim. I am from an accounting background. I am not a lawyer. I do not know how many of these cases are out there, but my understanding is that these situations are limited. Sometimes we get mixed up because headlines tell us of vicious and heinous crimes, but often they have not happened here in Canada. Apparently there are a very limited number of cases in which this sort of thing could be considered an issue here in Canada, but the Conservatives are making a huge issue around it. It is more like fearmongering than fact. That is one of the problems we have with these items.

    There were some issues that we thought should be looked at during debate or at committee, and the critic for justice, the member for Charlottetown, has brought them to light already.

    One problem I see with the bill relates to not providing an individual with hope. I have heard that in a prison atmosphere, some prisoners can make prison life a lot more complicated for people who will not necessarily be spending their whole lifetime in prison. They can make life much more difficult for prisoners who have shorter terms. Giving someone no hope by saying their 25 years is going to go to 40 years is something that should be looked at. I am not sure how all prisons are conducted or how the prisoners are divided, but if some prisoners in a cell block have 25-year sentences and others have less, there are going to be different behaviours in those cell blocks. I hope that will be one of the factors that will be considered.

    The second item is that few people are convicted of kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder. We see it in the headlines every day, but usually we see it in countries to the south of us and in other hemispheres. I am hoping that facts about the number of individuals who will be affected by this measure will be considered, as well as whether the additional cost is going to be appropriate.

    My understanding is that the laws in Canada already deal harshly with these situations. Perhaps the idea is to change the 25-year minimum for all eligibility situations and just not have judges use the discretion that they presently have in deciding these matters.

    Again, we support this measure, and it should be looked at in committee.

    Specific classes of murderers are considered more harshly than serial killers or persons who have committed crimes such as genocide or crimes against humanity. Why should one category of crime be treated differently than another category of crime? These are areas we should spend some time looking at, and I hope that members of all parties will be open to doing that at committee.

    I will close my remarks by saying again that I hope the bill is constitutionally sound and that the constitutionality of the bill will be looked at during committee hearings. Hopefully all members, especially members on the government side, will be open to hearing from stakeholders and experts on all sides of the spectrum.

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    MPlib
    Sep 15, 2014 12:30 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    With regard to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC): since January 1, 2012, has the Prime Minister’s Office, The Privy Council Office, or the Minister of Public Safety’s Office issued directives or suggestions to (i) Senators or their offices, (ii) Members of Parliament or their offices, (iii) the Correctional Service of Canada or its members, (iv) the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or its members, (v) the Canada Border Service Agency or its members, in order to forbid or discourage them from (a) testifying at CRTC hearings; and (b) providing letters of support to the CRTC on applications or processes and, if so, what are the (i) names of the individuals or offices that issued such a directive or suggestion, (ii) dates when the directives or suggestions were issued, (iii) individuals or departments to whom the directives or suggestions were issued, (iv) details as to the content of the directives or suggestions?

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    MPlib
    Sep 15, 2014 12:25 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    With regard to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC): since June 27, 2011, has the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) or members of the RCMP Senior Executive Committee issued directives or suggestions in order to forbid or discourage RCMP offices or members of the RCMP from (a) providing letters of support to the CRTC on applications or processes that are or were before the CRTC; and (b) communicating with the Minister of Public Safety’s office with regard to applications or processes that are or were before the CRTC and, if so, what are the (i) names of the individuals or office that issued such a directive or suggestion, (ii) dates when the directives or suggestions were issued, (iii) individuals or departments to whom the directives or suggestions were issued, (iv) details as to the content of the directives or suggestions?

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Sep 15, 2014 11:10 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, this summer Canadian rugby took a giant leap forward, as our senior women's rugby team earned a second place finish at the 2014 Rugby World Cup. It was Canada's best result ever.

    I would like to point out the contribution made by the seven Quebec players on the national team, including Magali Harvey whose outstanding play led her to score 61 points for her team in five games. She was named the women's player of the year by the International Rugby Board for her efforts.

    Our side showed cohesion and skill that only comes from countless hours of hard work and pushing the limits.

    On behalf of the Liberal Party, I am pleased to offer my congratulations for a job well done to our team. As a proud Canadian and a former rugby player who fondly remembers his time on the pitch, I would like to thank these extraordinary women for raising Canadian rugby to new heights.

    Well done, Team Canada. The future of rugby looks bright indeed.

    Go, Canada, go.

June

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    MPlib
    Jun 19, 2014 2:00 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Saint-Jean for his question.

    Actually, it is not just dairy producers. Take the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as an example. Instead of having more inspectors to ensure that our products are safer—the fresher the products, the less danger for people's health—the government is asking people to fill in more paperwork and provide more information. If they can, they will ask for more. These business people will have more difficulties, not fewer.

    Instead of helping our producers and our manufacturers, the government is putting obstacles in their path. That is a problem that the government is not really going to solve by claiming to reduce red tape. Instead of being out in the field, the inspectors will be tied to their desks.

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    MPlib
    Jun 19, 2014 1:55 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, who is from a riding adjacent to mine. Our ridings are both in the eastern part of Montreal, one to the south and the other a little farther north.

    I know that the member is new, but she must not get discouraged. It is the government's strategy to make these forms more complicated by demanding more information. Organizations will miss deadlines to submit applications, and then they will be denied funding.

    In our office, we tell organizations not to get discouraged. We tell them that we will try to help them as much as possible. My colleague is absolutely right. Many organizations have been denied funding because they submitted their applications too late because of all the paperwork.

    I tell people that we will not let the government intimidate us and we will not give up. These organizations do not have a lot of money, and they need it. We will fill out the paperwork.

    One thing is for sure though. When the next Liberal government is in power, we will cut red tape and we will help organizations because they deserve it.

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    MPlib
    Jun 19, 2014 1:50 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, that is a good question from the member. I want to thank her for it.

    I do not know where to begin. One of the first things small businesses require is a harmonized tax system, not just the sales tax system that we now have pretty well in all provinces across Canada. There are still some issues with Quebec, but it is getting there. Harmonized sales tax and corporate tax and tax on individuals are all items that help small businesses.

    Interprovincial barriers are a further issue. I am on the trade committee. When I was on the finance committee, one of our first recommendations was always with respect to interprovincial barriers. The government should be bringing down interprovincial barriers aggressively. This issue should not even have to be mentioned at the trade committee, because it should be a fait accompli.

    We just tabled a report with respect to Canada and Europe, and there was no mention made by the government members or the NDP that we should bring down interprovincial barriers. The only party that mentioned it in the supplementary report was the Liberal Party, and I am the only member of the Liberal Party who is on the committee.

    Bringing down the interprovincial barriers is probably the best initiative we can have, because if we do not do that, it is almost impossible for this country to be more efficient and more productive or to be able to take advantage of some of the free trade agreements that the government has signed.

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    MPlib
    Jun 19, 2014 1:30 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to debate Bill C-21, An Act to control the administrative burden that regulations impose on businesses.

    I hesitantly support this bill. My reticence has nothing to do with the objective of the bill but about the government's reputation of saying one thing and and then failing to abide by its own bills.

    I am in favour of the bill for the following reason. The one-for-one rule shows businesses that every time a new administrative burden is placed on them, another will be lifted. That is a start. We are telling businesses that their administrative burden will not grow heavier in the future.

    That is why the Liberal Party supports this bill. We sincerely hope that Canadian businesses will not be hindered or penalized by too much red tape. However, much more ambitious measures could have been implemented to help companies reduce their paperwork and administrative workload. Judging by the many bills that the Conservatives have introduced to date, the government is creating more paperwork, not less. We are in favour of this bill, but the government could have been a bit more ambitious. It could have ensured that every time a regulation was imposed, there would be 1.1 or 1.2 times less paperwork.

    On the one hand, the government wants to seem co-operative by introducing a bill like this, and on the other hand, its actions show that all it does is keep increasing administrative measures, whether it is through personal income tax measures or through various government programs that never reach their targets.

    There are a number of initiatives that would make the administrative process more efficient for businesses and, at the same time, for individuals. For instance, the government should ensure that all the forms that businesses and individuals need are electronically available and that government websites that provide services to the public are more in line with the needs of the public. The information should be easily accessible and the documents should be easy to find and download.

    All services that can be provided through the Internet should be available through the various departmental web portals. Businesses should not have to go to several offices or to make several phone calls to obtain documents or information that they need. Since red tape has a negative impact on businesses as it makes them waste time and money, we have to do everything we can to reduce it. Efficiency is paramount for businesses and that is what often makes them successful.

    According to a 2013 report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 68% of Canadian businesses feel that red tape lowers their productivity significantly. According to the same report, the total cost of regulation to Canadian businesses was estimated at $31 billion in 2012. Those are huge costs and we are just talking about small businesses. Instead, businesses could use that money to raise the wages of employees or to lower the prices of goods and services for Canadians.

    As stated in the 2012 recommendations of the Red Tape Reduction Commission, it is important to remove information-sharing barriers related to business across departments. As we know, various forms from various departments often ask for the same information over and over again. A more conciliatory and respectful measure for businesses would be to ask for information only once and to improve the sharing of information across departments. As a result, the government would reduce red tape for businesses and provide an improved and more modern service.

    There are ways to respect privacy while providing more streamlined, efficient communication between government agencies. Some administrative procedures are needed, and that is not a problem.

    In the vast catalogue of current regulations, some of them could easily be eliminated without any impact. That is where the focus is needed, and in fact that is why the government is not afraid to proceed with Bill C-21. It is aware that there are a bunch of regulations that could be done away with.

    However, the government should do more if it really wants to help businesses and individuals and to cut red tape. It should come up with a plan that is much more ambitious and comprehensive than what is in Bill C-21.

    Furthermore, there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the client service provided to individuals and businesses. Red tape can be cut, but more efficient service is also needed, since wait times have the same impact on businesses as the administrative burden.

    The quality and efficiency of service to individuals and businesses need to be reviewed. For example, with respect to the time it takes to deliver licences and certificates, the priority should be on setting target processing times. In 2012, during consultations between the government and businesses on red tape, businesses felt this was a priority.

    The government is also talking about aiming to reduce the number of complaints and to resolve existing complaints more quickly. These improvements are an integral part of the assistance to be provided to businesses — which is completely normal — to make them more efficient and avoid needless delays, whether in terms of red tape or delays in obtaining documents.

    If we look at what I have been saying up to now, a simple example would be when the government first was elected. It decided to introduce, as members well know, an income tax credit called the fitness tax credit. It announced it as being a $500 tax credit to families. Everybody was excited. As a parent, I was excited, as well. I was going to get $500 because my kids were going to be involved in a sports program. There was a lot publicity and hoopla surrounding the announcement.

    All of a sudden, we realized that it was a $500 tax credit that resulted in $80.00 of actual money in our pockets. However, in order to get that tax credit, our kids had to be enrolled in a sports program, which is perfectly normal. However, the sporting association, whether it was a profitable sporting association or not or if it was a school group, had to provide us with a receipt. It had to keep track of the money, which is totally fine. It needed to have a certificate number, an attestation number, then be able to print out the receipts and balance their books. Most of those sporting organizations took two to three years to provide an adequate receipt so we were able to receive a measly $500 non-refundable tax credit. Most of the parents in areas where they had difficulty paying their bills were unable to take advantage of this because these tax credits were non-refundable. The non-profit organizations, even the ones that were profit-oriented like sports camps or privatized specialized sporting schools, were unable to generate the proper receipts that were returned by the tax department.

    This is one example where the government, while introducing an initiative to reduce taxes, increased the administrative burden for all individuals involved.

    Then the government also came out with the public transit tax credit, which again, was a great initiative on paper. However, even the large transport companies were unable to generate receipts. They had to change their software. They had to ensure the receipts were issued in the proper format. They went to an electronic format. My kids pay for their bus passes electronically, but they have to sit there and wait for a receipt, then they have to provide me with the receipt and I have to file it. If they do not find the receipt, then they have to go back to the bus company and ask for a proper receipt.

    Again we were stuck with administrative challenges. Perhaps the government only added one extra line on the income tax return, but it created all sorts of paperwork for the people having to respond to the criteria the government implemented.

    When it comes to other things, I can give a whole bunch of examples from the Income Tax Act. Any professional accountant will tell us that the Income Tax Act has grown by more than 20% in just the last five to six years. If we look at the size of the Income Tax Act, we can see why it is not printed anymore. It is so voluminous it is not even possible to print it.

    I sit on the trade committee, and a couple of examples come to mind from there. We are hearing how the government loves to sign free trade agreements, but the biggest complaint is that when the goods come in, all of a sudden they are stuck there because of the paperwork. The government says it is open for business for importing and exporting, but the biggest complaints we hear are about goods getting stuck at customs or that goods are having a hard time coming in or getting out.

    As one example I sort of laugh at, someone said that if we bring in a pickle, it is pickles. However, if it is pickled pickles or jarred pickles, they are determined to be in a different duty category. By the time the duty rate is decided on, the cost can have increased by 10% or 15% or 20%. Sometimes fresh pickles expire in terms of their freshness date, so there is a whole big hoopla around that. This is all an extra administrative burden that the government has created.

    There are tons of other examples. We heard about the paperwork and lack of proper scheduling when the government tried to get grain shipped across the country throughout the winter. Other departments that I am not an expert on also have administrative burdens that we need to deal with.

    Earlier I saw the former immigration minister in the House. When we export our services to certain countries, we need to get visas. Conversely, my colleague from Markham, the immigration critic, cited the fact that if someone wants to bring in labourers from Mexico, there are tons of problems. They are asked for their passports and they are not given back their passports. There are a whole bunch of problems when it comes to getting visas and work permits, whether it is to go or to come back.

    These are all things that businesses have to deal with. Sometimes the fact that they only need a temporary worker for a temporary amount of time just defeats the purpose of getting someone, and the owners end up having to work 20- and 30-hour days, if that is possible.

    The government says it is going to reduce one administrative burden before it puts in a new one. However, has anyone here ever decided to automate their bills? It is great. Now we do not get our bills in the mail anymore, but we get an email. Now we have an email added to the rest of our emails. We do not know if they are good or bad emails because there is so much spam that we may not be sure if it is a legitimate email or not.

    However, let us assume we get the proper email. Now we want to get our bank statement. We have to log on. We have to make sure we log on with the right password, with exactly the right number of upper-case and lower-case letters and the right alphanumeric numbers. Once we have logged on, there is a security password and then a security question to determine if we are the proper person. Then we are logged on.

    We look at our statement online and decide to print it. Then we realize that our printer is not attached or has not been downloaded or has run out of toner. Maybe we realize the kids have taken all our paper, so we have no paper. It used to take half a second to open an envelope and find our bank statement, but all of a sudden it now takes a lifetime. It takes forever.

    This is what the government is doing. It is doing the same thing big business is doing: transferring the administrative burden. I just hope the government is cognizant of that fact.

    I am hoping we can work toward getting the bill into committee. We are going to vote in favour of it to get it out of the House at second reading and into committee, where we will see if we can improve it. Based on our experience with this government, we have not seen much openness to improving bills or accepting amendments, but we will see. That is why we work in this place. We try to make it a better place.

    One more area I would like to also get onto the record is this. The CRA has gotten its act together for a few things, and as an accountant I have to admit that, but one of the areas where it is still having difficulty is with respect to businesses that have non-resident employees. In that case, employers have to open separate non-resident accounts, which have nothing to do with their corporate account. They have to deal with a lot of paperwork in terms of withholding. They have to send in the paperwork to tell the CRA that they are withholding. They may not have a withholding tax, but because they have promised to withhold, they have to withhold at a certain rate. That rate may change based on the country the person who has been subcontracted is doing business in. The rate also depends on the tax treaty and the type of service. Then if the business is one day late in making that withholding payment, they are stuck having to pay a fee, even though they may be expecting a refund elsewhere.

    Therefore, with respect to the non-resident aspects, the CRA is still lacking in certain areas. I would like the committee to study some of the issues with respect to the CRA, because that is one of the big complaints we get.

    In conclusion, the Liberal Party will support the bill, which is intended to limit the administrative burden that regulations impose on businesses. However, we believe that this is just one small step in the right direction and that it provides very little to businesses. The bill is fine in itself, but it is incomplete.

    I call on the government to commit to helping Canadian businesses by instituting additional provisions, and I urge them to consolidate the possible administrative changes that could improve service to businesses. I also believe it would be worthwhile to review all regulations imposed on businesses and individuals to ensure that each regulation makes sense.

    Each small step toward reducing paperwork will have a real impact on the productivity and efficiency of Canadian businesses. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of small business owners, who constantly have to fill out forms and often run into red tape. We need to streamline the entire process and make it much more efficient.

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    MPlib
    Jun 19, 2014 12:30 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank the pages on behalf of the Liberal Party. I thank the staff, the personnel, and my colleagues as well. I know it has been tough sitting until midnight, and sometimes later. I thank everybody involved in making this place run, including you, Mr. Speaker, and all your personnel, and obviously our personnel.

    On behalf of the Liberal Party, I would like to wish everybody, not a merry Christmas, but a good summer.

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    MPlib
    Jun 18, 2014 8:35 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member went into quite a bit of detail. In terms of the timeline, is the government really serious? The fact is that this treaty was ratified six years ago, in 2008, and the government is just bringing it forward now.

    The government brought it forward on a couple of occasions and never really took it seriously, so how serious is it? Maybe, because it is flawed bill, the government is not really serious about it. Maybe the member could comment on that.

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    MPlib
    Jun 18, 2014 7:30 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, that was another great speech from my colleague, the member for Winnipeg North.

    We have been hearing from the government side that ratifying this convention or treaty is going to enhance our reputation on the worldwide stage. My colleague referred to our position and how our reputation is being viewed across the globe. He mentioned the fact that this treaty has been hanging around for eight years now. This bill has been in Parliament. I think it was tabled twice since the last election.

    I would like to ask the member how it enhances the reputation of Canada when in fact we do not see any signs of that, by actually ratifying this treaty?

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    MPlib
    Jun 18, 2014 12:45 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, supplementary to the previous two interventions, I would like to highlight for the House that on page 51 of the English version of the report on the Canada–European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement, the Liberal Party also submitted a supplementary report, and I recommend that all hon. members read it.

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    MPlib
    Jun 05, 2014 11:00 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, on February 15, I attended a multilingual mass that opened the celebrations of Saint-René-Goupil Church’s 50th anniversary.

    I am looking forward to the closing celebration on June 15, 2014, which will be presided by His Excellency Msgr. Christian Lépine, Archbishop of Montreal, along with the church’s current and previous pastors. Given the amount of love shown during the opening celebration, this closing mass promises to be a truly special occasion.

    Being a pillar of our community is a great accomplishment. That is why I would like to recognize the exceptional work of Pastor Raul Garcia and the entire church family, which includes dedicated volunteers, such as Gilberte Tremblay, who do exceptional work bringing together people from different generations and cultural communities to build a socially conscious parish that strives to make life better for all of us.

    Congratulations to the members of Saint-René-Goupil Church on 50 wonderful years, and my best wishes for many more to come.

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    MPlib
    Jun 04, 2014 7:00 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I must acknowledge the presence of the minister in the House at this hour. I commend him.

    That is a very good question. That is odd. Last year, by the time the program was announced, there were already ads saying that jobs had been created. Now, the minister just admitted that the program did not exist and that it still does not exist. The only thing that has happened is that an agreement has been made. However, the agreement was forced on the provinces because this government threatened them and forced them to accept the money or lose it.

    Has the program created a single job? Is there a single student who has registered for these educational programs? I do not know of any.

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    MPlib
    Jun 04, 2014 6:45 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House this evening to debate Bill C-31, the 2014 budget implementation bill.

    With this bill, the Prime Minister is handing us another deficit budget and further proof of the Conservative government's mismanagement. This government is completely out of touch with Canadians.

    The Liberal Party and our leader have repeatedly asked the Prime Minister to listen to the needs of the middle class. We have asked for specific actions. This budget does not give the middle class the help it needs even though that should be a priority for the Prime Minister.

    The only thing this government cares about is balancing the budget in an election year because it wants to change its disastrous reputation on the economy. The only thing this government cares about is its political interests. It is ignoring Canadians' pressing needs.

    Every year, the Prime Minister promises to balance the budget, but he never succeeds. Ever since day one of their mandate, the Conservatives have been announcing supposed improvements in the economy, but we are actually going backward. All this budget has to offer is temporary, vague measures that will not improve people's quality of life.

    The government has given us a discouraging budget. Canadians need investments that will stimulate economic growth. This budget is no better than the ones that came before, yet as we all know, the needs are many.

    The Liberal Party knows that the middle class needs to be heard. The budget should always be in line with the middle class's interests, not the Prime Minister's election interests.

    I would also like to emphasize the government's incredible lack of respect for Canadian democracy. I oppose this budget implementation bill because it is rife with changes and amendments that should not be in this financial document.

    For example, there are amendments to rail transportation regulations, food safety, the number of federal judges and the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act. This is a catch-all bill that amends a vast number of bills that we should have been able to debate separately in the House.

    As we all know, the government is perfectly aware that it can use this technique to avoid a lot of debates. We also know that it is not right for a government to do this. This is the Conservatives' way of avoiding debate in the House.

    In terms of budget measures for post-secondary education, the government needs to co-operate with the provinces instead of getting in their way. All of the education measures announced in this budget had already been promised before. The government is serving up old promises that it never fulfilled. The budget does not offer any solutions to student debt, nor does it improve access to education.

    What we really needed in terms of education was a much more focused plan to work with the provinces, so that measures would be successful. We need skilled workers and we want the majority of people to have access to post-secondary education. I think the best way to stimulate our economy is to focus on education and innovation. We cannot improve our education outcomes when the government acts as though it has power over the provinces.

    As for employment, the government needs to work with the provinces to find solutions that work for Canadians. The provinces were largely critical of this budget. It does not offer them much in terms of education or employment. The employment action plan should not involve putting massive amounts of pressure on the provinces.

    For example, negotiations should not in any way undermine or result in cuts to professional training programs for the most vulnerable workers. Furthermore, since the government's proposed Canada job grants were a failure, I think it is up to this government to find alternatives, to offer real support to workers and to help the unemployed find work. These are the kinds of things that middle-class Canadians worry about on a daily basis.

    The Conservatives are demonstrating, yet again, that we cannot trust their promises about employment assistance. The government must do more to help create jobs and increase the number of skilled labourers. These are the things that Canadians worry about on a daily basis: the economy, debt, retirement, education, access to employment and so on. How is it possible that the Conservative government is not listening to what Canadians are saying? What right does it have to refuse to listen and think only about its own self-interest?

    Economic growth requires significant investment if we want to see surpluses in the long term. The government cannot expect that repeatedly slashing spending in order to balance the budget will have a positive effect in the future. The government needs to work to increase employment opportunities, offer better opportunities for the middle class and young families and implement the many announcements made in the previous budget, including creating a code of conduct for the financial sector and eliminating fees for paper bills.

    I urge the Prime Minister to honour his previous commitments. We need a far more ambitious and flexible economic plan for the middle class and Canadian families.

    In addition to not thinking about the need to invest in order to stimulate the economy, the government is making improper cuts. For example, cuts to the defence budget are just an inappropriate way of maintaining a balanced or surplus budget. The government is simply putting off buying military equipment. By eliminating those expenses from the 2014 budget, the Conservatives are showing Canadians that they are neither responsible nor honest. They are just putting off that spending, which they had already committed to. Next year, $3.1 billion will have to be found somewhere so that the Conservatives can deliver on their promises.

    Is that a responsible, honest way of balancing the budget? I do not think so. How can we legitimize those types of cuts? The Canadian Forces require certain equipment to ensure that each mission is successful. Be it major equipment, basic trucks or supplies, our troops must not face equipment shortages. It is irresponsible of the government to cut the defence budget in order to balance the budget.

    It comes as no surprise, but the government broke an election promise it made in 2011. When income splitting did not garner the support he hoped to get for the next election, the Prime Minister cut his promise from this budget. We all knew this program would not last because it is far too expensive and it does not really benefit the middle class.

    The Conservative Party campaigned on this economic promise, but now it is dropping it because it did nothing for the party. Again, the government is starting to lose people's trust, and no wonder. This is not the first time the Conservatives have made these types of mistakes. True to form, they are concealing information to hide their mistakes from the public. This example shows that the government is unable to ensure that its promises are feasible.

    One of the most important aspects of this bill for my region is the confirmation that there will be a toll on the Champlain Bridge. I will not get into that just yet because I have some questions about that. The public is calling for clear and tangible benefits for families and members of the middle class who are concerned about their future and their children's future. The measures introduced by the minister in his latest budget do not put the public in a better position.

    Is it not the role of the Prime Minister to find effective ways to help families and improve their living conditions? I believe he has a responsibility to provide a budget centred on Canadians who are concerned. They are concerned because the budget does not offer them anything meaningful in terms of education, employment and infrastructure. Families, the middle class, public servants and soldiers are losing out. It is high time that the government realized that taxpayers are sick of seeing their interests and demands left out of the federal budget.

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    MPlib
    Jun 03, 2014 7:00 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie.

    He referred to the Liberal Party's position a number of times, but he made many mistakes in presenting our position.

    The last three or four speeches were made by NDP members, and not two of them said the same thing.

    I wonder if the hon. member could explain the NDP's position? I do not think his position reflected that of his colleagues. Could he comment on that?

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    MPlib
    Jun 03, 2014 3:40 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I am not a cheerleader for this agreement. I am saying that we will support it. There are issues. We do not support free trade without imposing certain conditions like the Conservatives and we are not against free trade like the NDP.

    I will explain it to the member. There are already Canadian companies doing business in Honduras. This agreement will help Canadian companies that are doing business in Honduras. There are American companies that are taking business away from Canadian companies, companies that perhaps are in the member's riding or province. They have come before committee and testified that we are losing business. We are way behind. As much as the government likes to say that it has been signing free trade agreements, we have a trade deficit.

    The member started off by saying that he wishes it was a Liberal government. So do I, especially in the area of free trade. We were champions when we were in government. When we signed free trade agreements, they were real free trade agreements. There were conditions imposed upon other countries. If we were going to sign an agreement, it did not matter with which country it was; those conditions had to be respected. We made sure that Canadian companies and Canadian individuals were protected.

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    MPlib
    Jun 03, 2014 3:30 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-20 concerning the free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Honduras, for which the agreement in principle was concluded on November 5.

    Free trade is a very important policy for Canada. The many advantages of free trade cannot be ignored, and it goes without saying that the strength of the Canadian economy relies on opening new markets. For that reason I do not understand why the government is delaying finalizing the free trade agreement between Canada and the Republic of Honduras. I would like the government to move more quickly and to take concrete action with respect to emerging markets. This agreement is a start, but it is not indicative of the ambition that Canada should have with respect to international markets.

    I am also wondering why the government has suddenly found that there is an urgent need for action in this area. I am wondering about the government's sense of urgency, because it has been negotiating this agreement since 2010. It has taken the government almost three years to put this agreement back on the table. Surprisingly, in 2010, the government was talking about short-term trade prospects. I wonder whether the government really takes international trade seriously, whether it is really a priority, or if this is just empty rhetoric.

    If we look at the figures for 2012, we see that Canadian exports to Honduras totalled $38.6 million. Bilateral trade between Canada and Honduras during the same period totalled $257.2 million, while Canadian imports from Honduras were valued at $219 million.

    While trade between the two countries is not substantial, there are still many companies waiting for progress to be made in this area. They are looking for more openness, and unlike the NDP, which rejects the bill without understanding the importance of free trade agreements, I think we need to consider businesses and workers.

    Once a free trade agreement is in place, Canadians can expect to see more jobs for the middle class and more business opportunities for companies. The Liberal Party has mentioned this fact on a number of occasions both in and outside the House. Every effort must be made to help the middle class.

    Consideration must also be given to potential trade opportunities for Canada. Given the size of Canada’s economy, it is critically important for us to compete globally for emerging markets. In my view, the government needs to be more serious and more transparent when it comes to this matter. It needs to answer questions over its failure to take action with respect to other emerging markets.

    I agree that international markets are more open from an economic standpoint. The world and trade are evolving rapidly. This means we need to act more quickly on free trade initiatives.

    Certain Canadian businesses stated in committee that they had lost a share of the commercial market in Honduras when the free trade agreements between Central America and the United States were signed in 2005. They pointed out that Canada needed to act as quickly as possible to regain this share of the market. We are already lagging behind. A free trade agreement with the Republic of Honduras represents an important step in the resumption of trade with Central America. However, we will then have to turn our attention to Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and El Salvador and negotiate additional agreements.

    Previous Liberal governments in fact concluded trade agreements with far more influential countries like Costa Rica, the State of Israel and Chile.

    Consider Chile, for example. Bilateral trade of goods with that country represents $2.5 million Canadian, and exports to Chile amount to $789 million Canadian. We are talking about trade that is almost 10 times greater than that between Canada and the Republic of Honduras.

    Although this government boasts of having negotiated several agreements, such as the agreements with Colombia, Jordan, Panama and the one being negotiated with the Republic of Honduras, only the agreement reached with Peru appears to be as ambitious as those achieved by Liberal governments.

    These agreements do not position Canada where it should be in the global economy. As is its responsibility, I urge the government to do more for international trade.

    Furthermore, in addition to the free trade agreement, an agreement on environmental co-operation has been reached with the Republic of Honduras. That agreement refers to the promotion of stronger environmental policies and sound environmental management. The Canadian government must make sure it keeps those promises and develops measures designed to improve environmental performance. It must also ensure that businesses involved in trade between the two countries comply with them. For the moment, the agreement makes no mention of any audit mechanism. That means there would be no penalties for businesses contravening these agreements.

    When it comes to the environment, the Conservatives have some work to do to regain Canadians’ trust. The environment has never been a priority for the Conservatives, and everyone knows it. It is therefore surprising that they have moved forward with an agreement of this kind.

    Can the Prime Minister and the Minister of International Trade give us any guarantees that this environmental co-operation agreement will be a success?

    There is also talk about labour co-operation agreements. We ask that the government ensure that workers’ fundamental rights are a priority and that labour law is complied with, here and in Honduras.

    It is essential that any increase in trade occurs in a manner respectful of workers and that free trade between the two countries will not lead to weakened labour rights.

    Once this agreement is final, we will be entitled to demand acceptable wages and working conditions for the workers of the Republic of Honduras.

    As my colleagues previously mentioned, we are aware of the unstable situation in Honduras, and we believe it is not a situation that warrants the economic isolation of that country. We must ensure that increased trade between the two countries can be achieved through harmonious relations and that free trade side agreements will be complied with.

    This agreement will help strengthen the national economy of Honduras and at the same time prevent certain violations of fundamental rights by force of the ties that will bind us. Economic ties between countries have the power to encourage better behaviour.

    The government must still make sure that this economic agreement works properly; otherwise, trade must be halted. That calls for a great deal of vigilance and oversight in the areas of labour and the environment.

    If the government really wants to guarantee human rights in Honduras as part of this free trade agreement, it must issue an annual report and require one from Honduras, so that the public can see whether human rights have been respected as trade between the two countries grows.

    We are entitled to require compliance with these parallel agreements, and to have proof of compliance. I hope that this government will remain vigilant with respect to the adverse consequences of the bill, given the unstable situation in Honduras. We must remain alert and monitor the internal situation in that country.

    In conclusion, I support this bill, because it represents a first step toward trade with new markets. Because our economy is based on exporting, I believe that eliminating barriers to trade can only be beneficial to Canada. I therefore ask the government to be more persuasive in this bill on free trade with Honduras, and to ensure that Canada is open to emerging markets in a way that fully reflects our values. The government must provide for better monitoring of the political, economic and environmental situation in the countries with which we trade. Otherwise, Canada’s image could suffer.

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    MPlib
    Jun 03, 2014 1:55 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I know that he member for Toronto Centre was asked to be a panellist on a panel regarding trade issues concerning GMAP in particular. I know the government had a problem with it, so I want to hear the member's comments on where the government should be going with its trade policy and how this Canada–Honduras free trade agreement would fit into the GMAP of the government.

May

  • retweet
    MPlib
    May 28, 2014 7:10 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg North mentioned the fact that he was having trouble getting visas, or some visas were not being accepted for family members who were sick or ill and wanted to have siblings come and visit them.

    Our office in Montreal is aware of a lot of young immigrant families having children. In some cases both parents are working, or there is already more than one child, or the other spouse is probably working two or three jobs just to keep the family afloat. Therefore, there are a lot of requests to have the parents come over. Nine out of ten of these requests are refused.

    I am not sure if the hon. member sees the same thing happening in his neck of the woods.

  • retweet
    MPlib
    May 15, 2014 7:05 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition signed by thousands of Quebeckers. This is not the first time I have presented this kind of petition.

    The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to reverse its 2013 decision to abolish the 15% tax credit for savings invested in labour-sponsored funds. They are saying that the middle class often uses these funds as a primary tool for saving for retirement. The funds create jobs and spur economic development. The petitioners are saying that this decision is jeopardizing the savings of thousands of Canadian workers.

  • retweet
    MPlib
    May 12, 2014 12:25 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    With regard to the Department of Justice: how much has the government spent in the case of Daniel Christopher Scott, Mark Douglas Campbell, Gavin Michael David Flett, Kevin Albert Matthew Berry, Bradley Darren Quast, and Aaron Michael Bedard v. the Attorney General of Canada, broken down by (i) year, (ii) department?

  • retweet
    MPlib
    May 08, 2014 8:00 am | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, it has been almost a hundred times, probably close to a thousand if we include committees and other procedural motions that have been put forward by the government, that there has been closure in the House of Commons.

    In terms of sports critic, we have a huge event that is potentially coming up on Monday. Monday is game 6 of the Canadiens-Boston series. It is a unifying event that is possibly going to happen, where all Canadians are going to be watching. They are the only Canadian hockey team left in the playoffs. Why is the government choosing Monday to sit down and vote for two hours when we can all rally around the Montreal Canadiens?

    Does the government has something to hide? Are the Conservatives hiding? What do they have to hide? They could put this off for another week.

  • retweet
    MPlib
    May 06, 2014 12:40 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I just want to congratulate my colleague on his wonderful speech.

    Earlier he referred to the provincial nominee program. It is an item we had looked at when I was on the immigration committee during the Liberal years. It was a huge success. We do not have that program in Quebec, but I know that in the province he comes from, Manitoba, it was a huge success. I would like to hear some comments from my colleague.

March

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Mar 24, 2014 1:50 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I think we are all in agreement in the House today that we want to eliminate voter fraud. However, the reality is that there is less and less of a turnout. There are fewer people showing up. Therefore, should we not be encouraging and finding ways to have voters eligible to vote? The reality is that the voter cards are being used.

    For example, in Quebec we have the medicare card. Most seniors have medicare cards. They do not have drivers licences. Medicare cards do not have ID on it. Therefore, could we not just find a way to perhaps have the medicare card with the voter ID be a way to help voters vote? We have to find a way to help voters vote.

    There is no evidence that there has been fraud. The Chief Electoral Officer attested to that, so I am not sure where this is coming from. Some of these voters are actually Conservative voters. Anyone who has ever showed up at a resident home will see that the elderly do not walk around with ID on them. They show up because they have a voter ID card that reminds them that they actually have to vote.

    Could the hon. member perhaps find better ways to help a better turnout rather than eliminating ways for people to vote?


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MP
Massimo Pacetti

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