- On the Parliament site
Last in Parliament September 2008, as Bloc MP for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles (Québec)
Won his last election, in 2006, with 53.90% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Food and Drugs Act May 5th, 2008
I was polite, I kept quiet, so I would ask the member to do the same, please.
I am going to speak about GMOs. I have a quotation to read, since I have only five minutes left. I am quoting someone who knows a lot about GMOs:
Frankly, I think there should have been more testing. But the biotechnology companies were not interested—they had invested a lot of money in developing their products.
At that time, if you did not blindly accept rapid development in terms of biotechnology and GMOs, you were thought to be a Luddite. I was under a lot of pressure not to overregulate these products.
Who said that? Dan Glickman, the American Secretary of Agriculture under the Clinton administration.
Last week, when we banned baby bottles—small bottles for babies and infants—made of polycarbonate, the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, Secretary of State (Agriculture), said that when it comes to health and the health of our children, no cost is too high.
Seventy per cent of the producers in Quebec's UPA are in favour of labelling. What is more, 91% of Quebeckers and 83% of Canadians are in favour of labelling. We are talking about the health and safety of Canadians like you and me. I believe and I hope that the members in this House will remember, before they make a decision, that this could affect their re-election. When 83% of people are in favour, what should we do? We should listen to our constituents and say yes to mandatory labelling for genetically modified foods.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge two 12-year olds, Claire and Norbert, from the Cœur à cœur school in Saint-Eustache, who are firm supporters of mandatory food labelling.
Food and Drugs Act May 5th, 2008
Mr. Speaker, I am disconcerted to see a scaremonger, such as the one who just spoke, saying such things and frightening the public.
Let us talk about GMOs.
Food and Drugs Act April 3rd, 2008
Mr. Speaker, my dear friend, you just took some of my time.
I would like to respond to my colleague that it is not a question of sovereignty. It is a question of human well-being. Since 2001, Ontario has been calling for labelling. British Columbia and Quebec have also been calling for labelling. It falls under federal jurisdiction, so we must take care of it.
This does not mean that the government is running smoothly. This means that it is not running smoothly. The Conservatives are not doing their job, which is to take care of mandatory labelling.
Food and Drugs Act April 3rd, 2008
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. If I am not mistaken, he attended this afternoon's meeting of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. It was his first time present, and he did well.
It is a bit like hiding one's head in the sand. How can we trust them, if it has been proven by departments and by everyone that the government does not have the means or methods for verification. It trusts the methods of companies like Monsanto, and looks only to see if the tests appear valid. That is crazy. We do not get a second opinion, no second opinion at all. We have to blindly trust the industry. Can we actually trust them?
Remember that the former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture said that the enormous pressure was put on him to approve genetically modified products. Even President Bush was pressured to accept GMOs.
Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, but I get very passionate whenever it comes time to—
Food and Drugs Act April 3rd, 2008
moved that Bill C-517, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (mandatory labelling for genetically modified foods), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, it is with emotion and pleasure that I speak to you and my colleagues in this House to express my point of view on genetically modified foods.
I would ask for your indulgence as I make a brief aside in my speech to commend two young people in my riding, Claire and Norbert. On December 11, they sent me an email, which I have before me, encouraging me to ensure mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods. Claire and Norbert even called me at my office and, together with their teacher, Marcel Parizeau—whom I salute this evening—invited me to discuss this with them. This was a very pleasant meeting. To my great surprise—you too will be surprised, Mr. Speaker—Claire and Norbert, who I met with at the Coeur à Coeur alternative school in Saint Eustache, are roughly 12 years old. I was surprised that young people that age had concerns about the food they eat.
I would also like to pay tribute to and thank my friend from Brossard—La Prairie, for supporting this bill.
Bill C-517 before us this evening is not an original bill. This is a topic that has been dear to the Bloc Québécois for many years. The hon. member for Drummond, in 1993 and 1994, had concerns about genetically modified foods. In 1999, my friend, Hélène Alarie—who is surely watching me this evening because I told her I was going to talk about this—tabled a bill in this House. By the way, Hélène was the first female certified agronomist in Canada. Ms. Alarie could speak at length about genetically modified organisms. I salute you, Hélène.
In 2001, an hon. Liberal member, Mr. Ciaccia—if my memory serves me correctly—tabled a bill calling on the government for mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.
The summary of this bill reads:
This enactment amends the Food and Drugs Act to make the Minister of Health responsible for establishing that a food or one or more of its components has been genetically modified. If it is established that a food or one or more of its components has been genetically modified, the Minister shall cause the name of the food to be published in the Canada Gazette. The Minister shall also prepare a list of all such foods and cause a copy to be sent at no cost to any one who requests it.
No one may sell this food or a food product containing this food in a package unless a label is affixed to the package containing the following notice:
This product or one or more of its components has been genetically modified—
In addition, no one may sell this food or a food product containing this food in a package unless a poster in the prescribed form has been placed near the food containing the following notice:
The main goal of this bill is not to put genetically modified foods on trial, but to inform consumers about what they are eating and to give them a choice between consuming genetically modified foods or not. That is a democratic choice.
This is bound to be a very popular bill, and I invite all members of this House to read their local papers to find out what is going on and what their constituents want. Between 79% and 90% of Canadians—the average is 83%—want foods containing genetically modified organisms to be labelled. In the Quebec nation, 86% of people want labelling, and 80% of agricultural producers support implementing mandatory labelling standards. In my youth, there was a saying that went “What the people want, God wants”. I would amend that by saying that what the people want, we, their elected representatives, want. This is what we, their elected representatives, want.
Another very important aspect of labelling is food safety. As a result of globalization—and we have examples—any type of food product can be found on our grocery store shelves and consumers may not know what it contains. For instance, there were cases of toothpaste that contained antifreeze. We must be careful. Therefore, there is also the issue of food safety. Given the lack of information about the medium- and long-term effects of GMOs, it is only natural to have concerns. You surely have concerns about the long-term effects, as I do.
In order to approve a transgenic product, the federal government relies on studies made by companies, which I will not mention, and merely reviews them. It does not conduct a systematic second assessment of all the plants and foods that are put on the market. Consequently, there is very little public or independent expertise in the evaluation of transgenic foods. The approval process must be more accessible and transparent in order to help the public better understand the risks and benefits associated with GMOs.
In March 2004, the government established a voluntary and ambiguous labelling policy.
It is so ambiguous that no foods on our store shelves are labelled to indicate whether or not they contain GMOs. There are none; we can find none. The policy is so confusing, everything is so mixed up that it would be too complicated. If there are no genetically modified organisms in the food, the producer should not have any trouble labelling it. However, the voluntary labelling system is so complicated and confusing that no one even wants to start the process.
In four years, the voluntary labelling program has failed to yield any results. None. In September 2003, after four years of consultations, the Canadian General Standards Board published voluntary labelling rules for products containing GMOs. I will repeat that it was a compromise, a complex and unclear system of labelling, left to the discretion of the industry and, above all, not suited to the needs of consumers.
We have witnessed a part of history in the last couple of years. I would like to talk about José Bové, the Frenchman—as he is called—who spoke out against GMOs. After many battles, Mr. Bové was able to get France to ban all GMOs for human consumption. And so it started.
Mr. Bové served three or four months in prison. He has done it all. He had the nerve to destroy entire crops, but he won. Europe is currently looking at the possibility of banning any food destined for human or animal consumption that contains GMOs—genetically modified organisms.
What I find surprising is that only Canada, the United States and New Zealand have yet to take this position. Why are European countries and other countries throughout the world completely opposed to genetically modified organisms?
One benefit of labelling GMOs is that consumers will have relevant information about the products they are consuming, so that they can make an informed decision, a cultural decision, a personal decision or a religious decision. It is up to agricultural producers to ensure they have access to the markets by complying with the current national and international standards. This would open up the European market to wheat producers.
What is a GMO? All living organisms have a multitude of genes that determine the colour and shape of their fruits and leaves. A GMO is a living organism to which has been added one or more genes to give it a special characteristic. For example—
Food and Drugs Act February 29th, 2008
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-517, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (mandatory labelling for genetically modified foods).
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to introduce this bill, which you have just mentioned. The intent of the bill is not to pass judgment on GMOs, but rather to allow consumers to make informed choices about their food.
Bloc Québécois members have been eager to present this bill for some time now, ever since my hon. colleague from Drummond began expressing her concern about 10 genetically modified organisms when she first came to this House.
I hope this bill will receive everyone's support.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Tackling Violent Crime Act November 23rd, 2007
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague across the way. One thing he said really shocked me. What struck me is when he said that 3% of the population is aboriginal and 20% of them are designated as dangerous offenders.
Would it be right to conclude that the crime rate among aboriginal nations is higher than among other groups? If so, what are the causes of this high crime rate and what can we do about it?
Veterans Week November 1st, 2007
Mr. Speaker, as happens every year on about this date, we are paying tribute today to our veterans. We remember our veterans. We remember all of the soldiers who have worn the uniform and have always been prepared to serve, in peacetime and in war, with bravery and tenacity.
While no one wishes for armed conflict, it is sometimes a necessity. When that happens, the soldiers are sent, whether on peacekeeping missions or on more dangerous missions, to risk their lives.
These men and women who have served in the armed forces for years do it not for personal glory or fortune, but because of the duty they feel to their fellow citizens. They sacrifice themselves out of their sense of duty to the democratic values we hold dear. When the need arises, they go to the front lines to protect what we at home believe is right and good.
When we see their unwavering commitment, it is only fair that we pay tribute to them, reminding ourselves of the hard road they have had to travel. Their sacrifices have won them the most honourable reward we can give: immortal memory, a memory constantly kept alive in our words and our hearts.
We remember the anguish and terror they had to overcome in the face of the horrors of war. Because we live in a democracy, they were able to talk about what they did, and that is why we can speak of their valour. They knew exactly what hardships awaited them, and still they did not turn away from the danger; they met it head on, with pride.
We remember the hard work done by the soldiers to bring peace, security, freedom and equality to countries ravaged by war, in places like Europe and Korea. Not only did they fight the oppression of dictatorship, but they also restored hope to the people there by helping them to regain their dignity and freedom.
And so as we take time to remember, we have a very special thought for our soldiers who are now in Afghanistan, and especially for the men and women of the 22nd Regiment from Valcartier. No matter what we may think about the policy behind the Afghan mission, we must acknowledge the work and sacrifice of the soldiers from Quebec and Canada. Let us not forget that the soldiers of today will be the veterans of tomorrow.
We must also remember the perpetual sacrifice demanded of the family and friends of soldiers posted abroad. And our remembering must also take concrete form, for the benefit of the veterans who are still among us. We must give them all of the help they need to deal with the physical and psychological effects of their experiences in the theatre of operations.
It is unacceptable that soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress should not be able to receive the care they need, and that they have more than earned, without delay.
It is too easy to honour our veterans in word alone, while leaving them to suffer. We cannot and must not turn a deaf ear to their pain. Their job was to go to the front lines, and our job today is to express our gratitude to them by giving them all the care they need.
We must keep the sacrifices of the people who have fought to bring peace to the troubled places on earth alive in our memory, from each generation to the next.
Lest we forget.