House of Commons Hansard #163 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, today I have the pleasure of extending our best wishes to the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean on his last day in Parliament.

He was the Parti Québécois member for the riding of Roberval in Quebec in 1981. While sitting in the National Assembly in Quebec, he served as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance during his first mandate. Re-elected in 1985, he was deputy chair of the Commission des affaires sociales until 1988.

After the 1993 general election, the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean became the Bloc Québécois House leader, a role he held until 1996, when he became the leader of Her Majesty's opposition, but I doubt he includes this title in his CV. He resumed his role as Bloc Québécois House leader when the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie was elected as leader of the Bloc Québécois.

I had the pleasure of working very briefly with the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. Unfortunately, he left his position shortly after I became the government House leader. Today is his last day in the House of Commons. I do not know whether I should feel bad or take credit for his departure.

Seriously, when I worked with the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, I quickly learned that he was someone who always negotiated fairly and equitably. He always kept his word.

We are all aware of the sacrifices we have to make in public life, as elected members of the House of Commons. The time we spend in Ottawa, away from our homes and families, is sometimes difficult. I am certain that all the members here today extend their sincere thanks to the hon. member for his many years of work and his contribution to politics in Canada and Quebec.

All my predecessors appreciated what the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean brought to the meetings of the House leaders over the years.

On behalf of all my colleagues on this side of the House, I wish the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean health and happiness in his retirement.

Member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to pay tribute to our Bloc Québécois colleague, the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. He has had a distinguished career as a member of the National Assembly in Quebec and here in Ottawa. He will soon be leaving us, after over 13 years in this House. He was leader of his party, House leader and always a proud representative of Lac-Saint-Jean.

Over the years, the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and I have had our differences of opinion and, as House leaders, we often crossed swords. He is an excellent strategist. He has carefully studied and has a thorough knowledge of the rules of Parliament. One could even say that he has become an exemplary parliamentarian in the greatest of British traditions following Disraeli, Gladstone, Churchill and others, and now, Gauthier.

When we were in government, the House leader of the Bloc was the most formidable of parliamentarians. His sense of strategy was beyond compare. He often amazed us with his procedural knowledge. The hon. member is also a dangerous adversary during question period. When he speaks, and especially when he sets aside his prepared text, he is always passionate, as demonstrated by his words and by his tendency to turn a Liberal shade of red.

Too often, he is the one shown in the clips. Well, now, completely impartially, he can play clips of us on TQS, I have no doubt.

To the hon. member, I would say good luck and take good care. You have always shown respect for this place and the people in it. You will be missed, just as I am sure you will miss this House.

Member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean will be leaving us in a few weeks. Bloc members will be losing not only a colleague, but also a friend. He may not look it, but Michel is a sensitive soul. We in the Bloc know this, but his opponents may not. However, they do know that he is a great parliamentarian. Despite being opponents, his colleagues in the House know him as a parliamentarian with excellent negotiating skills, a man who knew how to compromise, but who never compromised his ideals.

The member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean is a true teacher. Before entering politics, he was a teacher and school board director. I still call him a teacher because I have had the opportunity to work closely with him for the past 14 years.

Every sitting day, we meet early in the morning to identify the day's issues, to frame those issues and to choose the words we want to use to discuss them. Michel has the gift of explaining complex subjects in simple terms. His approach is simple: he sees things from the perspective of his fellow citizens. His guiding principle is: how can we engage their interest?

The member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean is, first and foremost, a Quebecker who stands up for the best interests of Quebec. He is a sovereignist who has fought in both Quebec's National Assembly and the House of Commons to make Quebec a country. The Bloc is sad to see him leave, knowing that he would have carried on were it not for his health problems. His adversaries may not be greatly saddened by his departure, and I can understand that, but they will remember the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean as a tough but respectful opponent.

We would like to wish him good luck with his new career, and we know that he will be just as successful in the communications field as he has been in education and politics.

Good luck, Michel, and thank you for your years of dedication to the cause.

Member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to pay tribute to my colleague from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. He was leader of the Bloc Québécois, leader of the official opposition, and one of the most effective and persistent House leaders I have ever known. Despite our different political positions, especially with respect to the nature, value and future of Canada, I do not think anyone in this House can deny the fact that the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean loves this Parliament.

As we say in English, he is a House of Commons man, perhaps the highest compliment we can pay another member of Parliament.

He especially loves parliamentary debates and has shown this eloquently over the last 14 years. I had the chance to cross swords with him a number of times. His debating style was characterized by respect and passion. He will be missed in Parliament. But perhaps not as much as all that, since he is going to pull a Jean Lapierre and become a television star.

As some of us only announced that we were not seeking re-election as opposed to resigning, perhaps at some point I will be a guest on the hon. member's television show and we can compare notes on post-parliamentary life.

Following up on a remark by the hon. House leader for the official opposition, with the departure of the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, this leaves the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst as the uncontested hothead, red-faced member of Parliament. I am not sure how the hon. member will translate that style onto television. We look forward to seeing how the cool medium and sometimes the nature of the hon. member's style get together on television.

On behalf of my NDP colleagues, I would like to wish the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean all the best, and a very long career in the media.

Member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, people want to keep me from speaking. They will be no more successful today than in the past. I intend on exercising my right to speak.

My colleagues have said some kind things, and I would like to thank them. It reminds me of a very popular Loto-Québec ad, in which they say that it is important to always be nice to people who play Lotto 6/49. I have a feeling that here, in this House, the advice would be to always be nice to the person who is leaving to host a daily public affairs show.

I would like to take this final opportunity to thank you personally, Mr. Speaker. As luck would have it, our paths have crossed throughout my career in the federal Parliament, when you were parliamentary assistant to the government House leader. You and all the employees here have always worked to allow us to express ourselves, to say what our constituents want us to say. What a wonderful profession it is to uphold the rights of democracy. That is your profession, Mr. Speaker, and that of so many people working behind the scenes, such as the clerks—whom I salute—and everyone else who works in the House to make our job here easier. I would also like to thank the pages who have served us so loyally, year in and year out. I would like to say a few words about the pages. I learned to take them seriously in a rather interesting manner. In 2004, during a debate at the time of my sixth election, I was up against a House of Commons page from the previous year who was running for the NDP—he was running for the riding next to mine—and it was a difficult debate. In going up against him, I learned that a person's worth is not measured in years. I encourage my hon. colleagues to take our pages very seriously. That was my most difficult debate. He was very kind, however, and made no comments about our past experiences together in this House. He acted as if he knew nothing of it and focused on the content.

I would simply like to express to my leader, to my colleagues and to all those present in this House, the esteem in which I hold them and the pleasure I have derived from working with individuals who are so well versed in various areas of the life of our society. It is a great privilege to associate with individuals of such high calibre as the men and women seated in this House.

It is true that in our discussions we have said some things to one another. It is true that we have had some heated exchanges. The House leader of the official opposition referred to that earlier. It is true that we have had some good discussions—some very good ones for us and less so for them. In the end, we have lent our voices to democracy. As long as the citizens who elect us view us as individuals capable of expressing their views, the way they would if they had the opportunity to find themselves here, and to give their opinions, as long as we do this, we will be good parliamentarians and we will continue to maintain the image of what a true representative of the people should be.

I would like to thank my family and my staff, who have supported me throughout my lengthy career. In particular, I would like to thank Sylvie and Fabienne, my two assistants, who have been at my side for almost 14 years and who were always up to the task.

We would not be members of this Parliament without our organizers, our workers, those who look after us, and those who generously support us in defending our ideas during election campaigns.

At this point, I have a less agreeable message for my adversaries. I know that some are happy that I am leaving and are saying, “After this election, he has decided to leave. Perhaps now we can win the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean”. Well, I have some bad news for you: you will not win the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. I am sorry to have to say that. I know that members of each political party will work to get out the message in the next election campaign. I know that the Bloc Québécois will try. Unfortunately for my adversaries, I do not believe that my leaving will change anything. Having said that, the citizens will decide and we shall see what their verdict is.

Naturally, I wish to thank the voters for being so patient with me. Today, I have a great deal of affection for the people in my riding, where my children and grandchildren still live. This region needed representation and still needs the support of the various levels of government. There are many economic problems. The difficulties resulting from the softwood lumber crisis predominate. Farmers are experiencing many difficulties and the unemployed, who are excluded from the employment insurance program, face many difficulties. However, I know that there will always be individuals in this House who are attuned to these difficulties and who know that we are all duty bound to find solutions for our less fortunate fellow citizens.

The last thing I would like to say to all of you is that I wish you much happiness and all the best in the future. I hope that you make the best possible decisions for your electors and that what happens in future turns out for the best for each and every one of you. I have truly liked all of you and I am leaving with the lasting memory of all the colleagues I have been fortunate to associate with from all political parties. I wish to thank you very much, it has been a pleasure.

Member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. I would like to share some remarks with the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean on his departure from the House. As he said, we met during his first meeting as leader of his party in the House, back when I was Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House. I remember well that it was in the office of Mr. Gray, who was then Leader of the Government in the House.

Our friendship continued in the years that followed. I would like to congratulate him on his work, not only on behalf of his constituents, but also on behalf of the members of his party and the citizens of our country. He has contributed much to the work of the House of Commons and has always collaborated with all the other leaders, whips and members of this House in the course of his duties.

I know that many members often wanted to hear not only the hon. member's questions, which are always entertaining, at least, from the perspective of the Chair, but also his points of order and his questions of privilege, which were always brought up good-naturedly and with considerable enthusiasm.

I greatly appreciate the work done by the hon. member, and I am sure, as are all my colleagues, that he will be sorely missed. I hope he will visit us from time to time, bringing his good humour and varied experiences to the gallery or our offices. It is always a pleasure to speak with him. Thank you, Michel, for all your work. It is much appreciated.

Member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 11 petitions.

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, entitled “Counterfeit Goods in Canada--A Threat to Public Safety”.

Counterfeiting and piracy are having a very negative effect on the Canadian economy. Many Canadian jobs are being lost and organized crime is reaping huge benefits. Almost everything imaginable is being counterfeited, from extension cords to clothes, medication and children's toys. This threat to the health and safety of all Canadians needs to be dealt with immediately because it is not just an economic issue.

This report that I am tabling makes a number of recommendations to the government. Hopefully, it is an issue that will receive prompt attention, legislation and support for our law enforcement and border security. A summary of our work at the standing committee is contained in the report.

I would like to thank all the committee members from every political party for their contributions and help in investigating this important issue, and in making the recommendations in the report. The cooperation I received makes it a pleasure to chair this committee. It has been a pleasure to work with all of the people on the committee from every political party. They have all made an important contribution.

As members know, most of our work here in Parliament is done at the committees, so it is an honour for me to submit this report.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 15th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In accordance with the order of reference of Monday, October 16, 2006, your committee has considered Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments), and has agreed on Thursday, May 31 to report it with amendments.

Veterans Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions between all the parties, and I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That members of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs be authorized to travel to the DND-VAC Centre for the support of injured members, injured Veterans and their families, in Ottawa, on June 7, 2007, and that the necessary staff accompany the Committee.

Veterans Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Veterans Affairs
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.