Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Beauce (Québec)
Won his last election, in 2004, with 41.38% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Transportation Amendment Act November 28th, 2005
Madam Speaker, first, I would like to sincerely thank the people of Beauce for giving me the opportunity and the privilege to represent them here in Ottawa. It has been a wonderful experience for almost nine years, and I sincerely thank them for it.
I would like to thank my family who have been willing to make many sacrifices. I appreciate their understanding. It is my turn now to make a sacrifice in order to spend more time with them.
I wish also to thank the many volunteers who worked for me to ensure the realization of great projects in our region, Beauce.
I also wish to thank my colleagues on both sides of the House. We have had the opportunity to work together for the well-being of Canadians. We recognize the importance of the House and the work it does.
If I had one wish, it would be to ensure that we adopt measures so that those who want to go into politics and have a family could have a schedule that is more suited to their needs, because it is really hard. I have a 20-month old child and I can tell you that it is hard to be in Ottawa 26 weeks per year and practically five days a week. We should review the way we work so that those who want to serve the well-being of the public, in keeping with democracy, can do so without constraints, whether they be family related or personal.
To conclude, I want to thank those who work here, on Parliament Hill, to serve politicians so that we are able to provide Canadians with the services they require. To all those men and women who work very hard, I say thank you.
Madam Speaker, I wish to thank you for giving me the opportunity to thank, once again, the people of Beauce for their support.
Since I have the time, I will thank those who have worked for me in my riding and here in Ottawa, for almost nine years now. They have made countless sacrifices to provide the best services possible to the population.
Once again, thank you all. I wish everyone success, health and happiness as the holiday season approaches. To those who are waiting for me, I extend my heartfelt thanks.
Supply November 17th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, it appears that the Bloc members are prepared to attack individuals and try to tarnish reputations, although the Gomery report is clear. All those who are members of the current government are not involved.
Before I ask my question, I want to tell the member that I did not receive any money and that everything was done in compliance with election legislation. In the future, if his party has any comments to make, I invite it to make them outside the House. It will be my pleasure to respond. As for me, I respect the members opposite on a personal level. We all have families and people around us. Individuals should never be the subject of attack, but rather ideas. However, when members run out of ideas, they attack individuals.
Nevertheless, I understand the Bloc member not wanting to respond with regard to the situation at the National Assembly. He says that it is a case of the right church, wrong pew. Above all, we cannot mention the Laval metro scandal, Gaspésia and the interests of Quebeckers because their mother house was involved. However, this should have convinced them to be more careful. A great deal of money was wasted.
Today, they are trying to teach us a lesson. However, we have admitted that there is a problem. Someone has already pleaded guilty and others are awaiting trial, before either the criminal or civil courts. All this proves that we want to take action to remedy the situation and that we have the moral authority to govern, not just until January, but for 30 days after Justice Gomery tables his final report, as we proposed and as they agreed.
As a matter of fact, the motions they introduced last spring were defeated. They cannot say that they have not had any opposition days. The motions were defeated. What does that mean? We had the confidence of the House. This is their problem, not ours.
Supply November 17th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised by the comments of my colleague the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord. He is very angry and is attacking people. I am all the more surprised given the events surrounding the separatist head office in Quebec. I would like very much to hear what he has to say on that.
When the Oxygène 9 problem arose, it was so serious that Mr. Landry, the premier at the time, took no chances. He called for the resignation of minister Baril and appointed him vice-president of Hydro-Quebec in Chile, to ensure there was no inquiry and no guilty party. We on the other hand have acknowledged our responsibilities. Criminal charges have been laid on four people. Thirty-two civil suits have been brought representing a figure of $57 million. We have taken many steps to prevent such things from recurring. But we hear nothing of that.
Today, we are debating a motion stating that the government no longer has the moral authority to govern. However, it can still govern until the holidays. It is a good thing that ridiculousness is not deadly, because the member opposite would drop dead on the spot. We do not have the moral authority to govern, but we can govern until January.
This is not the first time we have heard this. The member speaks of fiscal imbalance. I would point out that the government worked with the Parti Québécois. It took out loans over 10 years with the municipalities instead of taking the proper course of action, as we did, to reduce the $62 billion debt. Had the PQ government done its work, Quebec would not be facing its present difficulties.
This is not the first contradiction by the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord. We hear them here regularly. We increased transfers to the provinces by $75 billion. We established day care and childhood education programs, among other things, and a lot of other assistance measures in keeping with jurisdictional areas. The credit reductions people are looking for are an extension of the $100 billion we injected over five years. Our solvency is such that we want to continue in this regard.
Privilege November 14th, 2005
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Gatineau for the relevancy of her question.
I only want to stress that further to the statements of the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, the Bloc members do not even dare apologize and they take the same stand. As I mentioned earlier, it should be noted that when the leader of the Bloc Québécois speaks, he addresses the people of the Parti Québécois and of the Bloc Québécois who are accusing one another without proof. This is what we see in the householders where people were attacked without proof. In addition, he cites the Gomery report which does not mention anyone specifically.
Privilege November 14th, 2005
Madam Speaker, I am somewhat surprised that the member would dare rise in this House to ask this question. I told him in my comments that, as regards the metro in Laval, it was over $900 million. With the sponsorship program, it was $350 million over a ten-year period.
Many organizations from which Bloc Québécois members benefited did receive the money as agreed. However, there was some misappropriation of funds, and we took action. We fully accept the content of the Gomery report. On page 77 of the Summary, it is mentioned that no government member was involved. Therefore, how can the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, who is a lawyer, dare accuse some people, when the Gomery report tells the truth? The member refers to various pages, he says that he has read everything and that he is prepared to ask questions for weeks and months. He sent this piece of trash to his constituents and indirectly accused, through some comments, people who were exonerated by Justice Gomery himself in his report. But the member is nevertheless accusing these people. He has the nerve to rise in this House and ask questions, but we never saw him protect the interests of Quebeckers in the numerous scandals that involved his party's head office for years. Perhaps a reminder is in order here. Perhaps the member was pleading cases before the courts when these scandals occurred, and perhaps he was not aware of what was going on. Just think of the metro in Laval, the caisse de dépôt and Oxygène 9.
Given all this, perhaps the member should just keep quiet for a while.
Privilege November 14th, 2005
I would remind the Bloc member that it was not $46 billion in the case of Oxygène 9. We will never know the figure, because the sovereignists lacked the nerve to investigate. They lacked the courage. Here, however, we did not lack the courage to acknowledge malfeasance and to have the guilty pay the price. We have sent this message here since the outset and will continue to do so.
Instead of being a responsible and transparent government, they had the minister Gilles Baril resign and promoted him to the position of vice-president of Hydro-Québec in Chile. They never investigated and never found out who was guilty. And the Bloc members are trying to teach us a lesson, we who established the Gomery commission and called in the RCMP to uncover the guilty parties.
Criminal charges were laid against four individuals, and 32 civil cases were initiated against individuals or companies for a total of $57 million. In so doing, we have demonstrated our desire to take action to ensure that such major problems never recur. That was the action of a responsible government. We have recreated the position of Comptroller General of Canada as well as comptroller positions for each department, in order to ensure that any program put in place will comply with Treasury Board standards and regulations.
My reading of these tactics is that the Bloc does not know what to do with a government that respects its commitments. This shows how important it is for the government to do exactly that. I will list but a few of our commitments, as time is unfortunately limited.
A few weeks after the election, a health agreement was signed for a total of $41.5 billion, $9.6 billion of that to go to Quebec over 10 years. Health is the ultimate priority of Quebeckers and Canadians. That was the action of a responsible government. We noted a major problem relating to equalization, and wanted to ensure its stability, so that the provincial governments will not be caught unawares because of an adjustment to the highly complex equalization program rules. What was the outcome of that? Within just weeks of the signing of the health agreement, an equalization agreement was concluded for $33 billion over ten years.
I would remind my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois that, this year, the agreement will see $4.8 billion going to Quebec in equalization payments. Next year, the amount will exceed $5.3 billion, or an increase of over $500 million in direct payments to Quebec. This is proof of how the Government of Canada respects its commitments.
We talked about parental leave. We have made an investment of $750 million per year to enable the province of Quebec to make its own decisions concerning parental leave and to enable families to have children, which is essential for our country. Subsequently, we have seen that Quebec is a leader in early learning and child care programs and we wanted to establish a national program. Therefore, an agreement of over $1 billion over five years was concluded. That enables Quebec, as a leader in this area, to share its know-how and expertise with the other provinces and territories, while respecting the fields of jurisdiction.
Too often we hear our colleagues from the Bloc Québécois say that the government does not respect provincial jurisdictions. The Charest government mentioned a while ago that it had concluded 150 agreements with the federal government. This is proof of mutual respect. And the interim leader of the Parti Québécois added: “One hundred and fifty agreements! The Parti Québécois has concluded 400 agreements with the Government of Canada.” This shows things are working out in this country. We are able to get along. However, when we are dealing with the Bloc Québécois, no agreement is possible.
It is too bad that I only have one minute left, because I could have continued for hours and hours to show just how much the Government of Canada has the interests of Quebeckers and all Canadians at heart.
In conclusion, I will talk about Bill C-9. Over $300 million will be given to the regions of Quebec, which constitutes concrete action. Going back to the main point of the debate, I would like to quote the Bloc leader:
On a sharply critical note, [the leader of the Bloc Québécois] said that in a society, attitudes fraught with hypocrisy and innuendo are not to be tolerated. If there is evidence, let it be known, do not let the rumour mill run. Rigour is required at all times; otherwise, we end up with statements starting with “Someone told me they have heard”. That is hearsay, gossip, and it is not right, be it directed at politicians or anyone else. There is nothing more harmful than rumour because it is not factual.
When the Bloc leader made this statement in Le Soleil , to whom do you think he was referring? He was referring to the separatists, who attack each other personally. This is reflected here when unaddressed householders contain personal attacks. Bloc members quote liberally from the Gomery report, saying it contains real and concrete facts, and yet, they do not say a word about the government. This is unacceptable and I hope they will apologize and demonstrate sound management and good behaviour in the House.
Privilege November 14th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I want to share my time with my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health.
The question of privilege granted to my colleague from Bourassa shows just how serious this is. When a party like the Bloc attacks people's reputations instead of sticking to a debate about ideas, as we should here in the Parliament of Canada, it shows how prepared this separatist party is to do just about anything to break up our country.
What I find disgraceful in what the Bloc members are doing is that they are attacking the reputations not just of members of Parliament but of their families and friends as well. I know that the Bloc members have families too. If they would just take two seconds to stop and think, they would immediately cease this disgraceful approach and unfortunate lack of judgment.
I should emphasize, though, that some Bloc members are not descending to conduct like that of their colleagues.
We heard the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean tell the House that some members had thin skin but his was thicker. I was hardly surprised to see that he could not stop laughing when we were debating a matter of privilege here over a serious attack on someone's reputation.
I would like to return to the thick skin of the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. When his opponents pointed out during the last election campaign that he lived in a residence in Gatineau worth more than half a million dollars and had a shiny Cadillac, all of a sudden his skin became very thin. And yet, this was as true as can be. Here we see it every day with the Gomery report, and everybody is quoting it over and over and no party in this House has cast any doubt on the report. It acknowledges that no member of the government was involved in the scandal. So why does the Bloc not apologize and stop its smears and disinformation campaigns? The Bloc members often quote us this page or that of the report. They should read page 77 of the summary, where they will see Mr. Justice Gomery acknowledge that the government was not involved in these misappropriations.
All of politics loses because of the Bloc's behaviour. No time must be wasted in returning to debating ideas. This is why I am interested in the real reasons behind the thoughtless attacks by the separatists. They are supposed to be defending the interests of Quebeckers, but they have ignored a number of issues. There was the metro scandal in Laval, Quebec, which occurred while the mother house was in government. Some $178 million was involved. The work is not complete, and the cost is over $1 billion. It is a scandal. And yet, the Bloc members neither criticized the mother house nor called for it to investigate. Then there is Gaspésia, where costs spiralled $200 million over the original estimate. It could be called a scandal. There is the Caisse de dépôt. There are a lot of examples.
I will spend a little time on Oxygène 9.
Privilege November 4th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate my colleague, the environment minister, for the excellent speech he made and his clarity in response to the Bloc, which is capable of the worst abuses to achieve its ends.
I am happy to see that the relevance of the Gomery report was mentioned repeatedly. We agree with the report. This report shows that of the $147 million paid to the agencies, $1.143 million was given to the Liberal Party over a 10 year period.
The members of the Bloc see themselves as staunch defenders of Quebeckers' interests, but where were they five years ago when we found out about the PQ scandal involving Oxygène 9? It was Quebec taxpayers' money that had been squandered. Where were the members of the Bloc? We not did hear from them. That scandal was so bad that the PQ government never held an inquiry. The minister, Mr. Baril, had to resign. He was named vice-president of Hydro-Québec in Chile to ensure there would not be an inquiry. We can see to what lengths the separatists will go to achieve their goal.
I am asking the environment minister to enlighten me on what occurred at that time.
Textile and Clothing Industries September 29th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, we have noticed that, on both sides of the House, members are dismayed by the situation experienced by women and men throughout the country, particularly in Quebec, in the clothing and textile sectors.
This situation is most difficult and the Government of Canada has acknowledged that. Since 2003, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to try to help the industry overcome this crisis. However, the rising Canadian dollar has negatively affected our chances to help the industry. At the same time, we have seen that the European Community has threatened and has even tried to impose quotas on Asia, particularly on China, but that it had to change its mind. These are difficult times.
Some businesses here in Quebec and in Canada have started to move to Asia and in other countries where wages, unfortunately, are very low. We are talking about people earning $1 or $2 an hour or, in some countries, that amount of money for a day of work. The situation is difficult. We must find solutions to help these women and men keep their jobs or find other avenues to ensure that the Canadian economy remains strong.
I am very concerned with this situation. In our province, we have lost 2,000 jobs since 2003, despite the investments that we have made to help increase productivity and find the right niches. However, at the same time, there are businesses in our province, in the clothing sector, that are currently creating jobs. They are rare, but there are some. We must find niche products. We must help the industry and we will do so once again. Both sides of the House must do so relentlessly to help find solutions for the women and men who make a living in the textile and clothing industries.
Mr. Speaker, the only sham tonight is listening to the Bloc Québécois, which claims to defend the interests of Quebeckers and repeats that it will vote against Bill C-48. The premier of Quebec, like most of the mayors in Quebec, is asking the Bloc members to support this bill in order to obtain the money the Government of Canada has promised, thanks to an agreement with the NDP, a party that wanted to work in the interest of Quebeckers and Canadians, unlike the Bloc members.
My colleague alluded to a number of points. I want to respond to some of them. He spoke a great deal about sponsorships. I want to ask him what he thinks of what happened in Quebec, particularly with regard to Oxygène 9 and the resignation of Mr. Baril as a minister. A few months later, the Quebec government made him a vice-president of Hydro-Québec in Chile, without investigating or assigning blame, by claiming its innocence.
Here, we created the Gomery commission of inquiry. Four people are currently facing criminal charges, one of whom has already pleaded guilty. We have launched legal proceedings against 20 individuals and businesses for a total of $44 million. We amended the Election Act's provisions on the funding of political parties. We re-established auditors for each department, to ensure that departmental expenditures comply with Treasury Board guidelines.
Those are the measures we have taken as a responsible government. We have not tried to hide; we have acted. There was a problem: some people took advantage of a flaw in the system. We are aware of the problem and we want to fix it.
It has been suggested that nothing has been done with regard to EI. In fact, an additional $300 million was announced, but the Bloc does not want to support Bill C-48. However, it has a lot to say about what happened with the gun registry and EI. The $1 billion he mentioned is really $80,000. I invite the member for Joliette to table the documents to support his claims. In reality, the inquiry concluded that $80,000 was missing.