- On the Parliament site
Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Châteauguay (Québec)
Lost his last election, in 2004, with 30.04% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Canadian Railway Museum May 13th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to draw hon. members' attention to the important contribution made by the Canadian Railway Museum to the riding of Châteauguay and the region of Montérégie. This museum, the only one of its kind in Canada, is located in the municipalities of Saint-Constant and Delson.
The Government of Canada is proud of its association with this museum. In March, it made a contribution, through Economic Development Canada, of $1.2 million for phase II of the museum's Exporail project. This is in addition to the October 2000 contribution of $3 million for phase I of this project.
Since its creation in 1961, the museum has managed to assemble the largest rail collection in the country. These recent investments will enable the Canadian Railway Museum to join the select ranks of the world's top five railway museums. It is source of great pride to our region.
Once the work is completed, the museum expects to attract 85,000 visitors annually. Its vital mission of education and raising awareness will thus continue to expand.
Employment Insurance Act March 26th, 2004
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-504, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code (employee taking care of a disabled person)
Mr. Speaker, this enactment amends the Employment Insurance Act and the CanadaLabour Code to provide that an employee who is absent fromemployment because of an obligation to care for a disabled person is notdisqualified from receiving employment insurance benefits and may notbe dismissed, suspended, laid off, demoted or disciplined.
The enactment also replaces the twelve-week period of absence set outin the Canada Labour Code with an indefinite period. It also allows thepension, health and disability benefits and the seniority of an employeewho is absent from work to care for a disabled person to accumulate.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Perdita Felicien and David Ford March 26th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to pay tribute to two exceptional Canadians, Perdita Felicien and David Ford, who were named Female Athlete of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year 2003 at the most recent Canadian Sport Awards, held Tuesday evening in Toronto.
Perdita Felicien won world recognition in August 2003 as the gold medallist in 100-metre hurdles at the International Association of Athletics Federations world championships in Paris, at the same time breaking the Canadian record for that event.
David Ford won a silver medal in the senior slalom world championships in Germany and was grand champion of the 2003 World Cup ranking event in kayak slalom.
We will continue to encourage David and Perdita in their quest for gold medals at the Athens Olympic Games this August.
I would also like to congratulate all the other award winners who were honoured for their exceptional performances and their contributions to Canadian sport.
Haiti March 10th, 2004
Mr. Chair, you know that the political situation in Haiti has been in the media headlines for some weeks now. As Canadians and Quebeckers, we have all followed the story attentively. As a member of Parliament, I have taken an even greater interest.
The Government of Canada is very sensitive to issues affecting the other francophone country in the Americas and does not believe that we can isolate ourselves from what is happening within its borders. Like Canada, Haiti is a member of a number of international organizations including the Francophonie, the Organization of American States and the United Nations.
Moreover, there are many people of Haitian origin living in Canada, particularly in and around Montreal. The Canadian government wants to support them and has a very special interest in what happens in Haiti. Canada, as an active member of the international community, is aware of the fact that the continuing problems in that country pose great risks to its citizens. That is why we responded firmly to the pleas for intervention.
I believe that all members would agree that the Canadian government could not ignore the calls to help restore peace in Haiti. I am very proud of the Canadian government's initiatives on this. They are aimed at restoring calm and order in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and all over the country, through our participation in the United Nations Multinational Interim Force.
Canada's commitment goes beyond simple emergency measures, because we want to ensure that the conditions exist that would allow a true democratic culture to blossom in Haiti. Creating a real democracy is a long-term process and will require a sustained international presence.
The Canadian government's commitment is serious and responsible, since we want to ensure that the new regime is stable and that we will not witness a new series of coups d'état and autocratic regimes in Haiti. We are working with the international community and the local population to ensure that this sad page of Haitian political history is truly finished and that a new page, written in the language of democracy, will be started today.
On March 5, the Minister of National Defence announced that the Canadian Forces would deploy some 450 soldiers to Haiti. These soldiers will be active members of the United Nations Multinational Interim Force. The Canadian contingent will be supported in its mission by six helicopters.
The Canadian Forces are already involved in many areas throughout the world, including in Afghanistan, but the Chief of Defence Staff has indicated that the Canadian Forces can play a key role in Haiti without compromising their other commitments and obligations in Canada and abroad.
The mandate of the interim force is to restore safe living conditions in Haiti. They will have to restore order within the law enforcement agencies and the interim government. Guaranteeing public safety is the cornerstone of the constitutional process that would restore a democratic government in Haiti.
If the citizens of Haiti are in constant fear for their safety, they will not be able to help build a new political system. Each and every one of them needs to take part in the debates, because the principles of equality and universality lie at the very heart of democratic values.
Canadian troops will serve alongside their counterparts from various countries to ensure that fear, intimidation or uncertainty are not used to exclude anyone from the process.
Canada has also provided financial assistance to this Caribbean nation. On February 20, Canada announced that it was granting an additional $5 million to the special mission of the Organization of the American States in Haiti. Just yesterday, the Minister for International Cooperation announced that Canada has pledged another $5 million in support of the United Nations humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and transition efforts in Haiti. This money complements the $1.95 million already announced for humanitarian assistance since the current crisis began.
Canada responded strongly to the call of the people of Haiti and the international community.
The mandate of the UN interim multinational force in Haiti is about three-month long. However, Canada realizes that this short period will not allow to establish a representative and functional democracy in that country shaken by several years of political, economic and social instability, which only intensified in the last weeks. A long-term commitment is required. Here again, Canada is taking its responsibilities.
The UN Secretariat was given a period of at least one month to define the options for the follow-on forces. These will be in place at the end of the three-month mandate undertaken by the interim force.
Canada will play a leadership role in this follow-on mission. We will not simply stay timidly in the background while others make decisions. We will be key players. Canada's ability to act in a crisis is recognized internationally, particularly through its participation in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Africa. We will bring our experience and effectiveness to help the people of Haiti during these times of upheaval.
Since the beginning of the crisis, Canada has shown support for a political agreement that would come from a wide consensus among representatives of the Haitian government, opposition political parties and the civil society. Our action during the months to come will seek to create and maintain the conditions that are needed to articulate and implement such a consensus within the political and social structures of that country.
Canadians and Quebeckers will be there to allow the emergence of a stable democracy in Haiti. Our troops will not leave the country at the first opportunity, but will stay until the satisfactory completion of that mandate. The Prime Minister clearly said that Canada will play a major role in the follow-on mission.
Canada intends to take multilateral action in Haiti. We will work in conjunction with the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community and Common Market, CARICOM, to help Haiti find lasting solutions to the recent crisis.
This spirit of cooperation we are witnessing in the international community in response to the dire need of one of our members is clear proof of our commitment to democratic values. Multilateralism works when each member's participation is recognized and considered valid. This message of inclusion is something we hope to develop within Haitian society and its political institutions.
Our country has long taken multilateral action in Haiti. In 1994, we actively participated in the international US-led force and, later, in the UN mission to Haiti. From 1993 to 2001, Canada sent police officers to help Haitians restore democracy, stability and the rule of law.
Our activities abroad, in Haiti and elsewhere, always aim to promote a reliable justice system, full recognition for human rights, economic development and the establishment of a civil society.
Yesterday, His Excellency Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, gave an important speech in the House of Commons. He reminded us that the international community will need to make a decisive contribution to buttress Haiti's democratic institutions. He said, “Only through a long term commitment to help the country can stability and prosperity be assured. Half-hearted efforts of the past have been insufficient. We cannot afford to fail this time”. Through initiatives recently announced, Canada is answering this call.
Haiti is facing enormous challenges. It remains one of the poorest countries in the Americas.
The Canadian government recognized well before the current crisis that peace and democratic development could not be maintained without sustainable and equitable economic development in that country. To that end, in 2002-03, our official development assistance to Haiti totalled $23.85 million. This is the largest assistance program provided to any country in the Americas. We have also contributed $3.25 million to the Organization of American States Special Mission since its inception in March 2002; $500,000 of this contribution has been given to the Agence intergouvernementale de la Francophonie.
I reiterate my support for all the actions taken by the Canadian government in Haiti in response to the recent crisis. These measures are in place to continue the commitment made many years ago to this country in the West Indies to promote democracy and sustainable development. This commitment has intensified following the events of the past weeks.
We are currently at a critical time in Haiti's history. In the short term, Canadian troops will help restore order so that democracy can truly take hold. In the long term, our commitment, together with our international partners, will be the gauge of success of these initiatives.
I am proud that the Government of Canada is taking its responsibilities multilaterally, based on current information and with an eye to the future. This will be the key to a happy ending in Haiti, and Canada will be able to proudly say that it made a significant contribution and took a leadership role that was very fitting under the circumstances.
Châteauguay River March 9th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I would like to stand in solidarity with the people of my riding whose homes were flooded when the Châteauguay River overflowed its banks this past weekend.
Thirty-two homes were flooded out, and 38 people had to be evacuated. Two amphibious backhoes were used to clear away the ice. During my visit, late Saturday afternoon, I saw just how uncontrollable nature can be.
Since then, the situation has stabilized, but it is still a cause for concern. The authorities in Châteauguay remain vigilant.
There are many men and women still working pretty well around the clock as part of the emergency plan that has been put in place. I would like to pay tribute today to all those workers.
It is always reassuring to see that the values of solidarity and helping others are still alive in our society. I certainly hope that the situation will be back to normal very soon. The people of Châteauguay can count on my support during this difficult time.
Albert Chartier February 24th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, the comics community is in mourning since the death of Albert Chartier, who was a pioneer of this art form in Canada.
Mr. Chartier died on Saturday at the age of 91. He was born in Montreal in 1912, studied graphic arts in the United States, then returned to Quebec. Today, a comics award bears his name. He is mentioned in the Larousse Dictionnaire mondial de la bande dessinée , an honour few in this country can claim.
In 1943, he created the character of Onésime, whose goings-on were a feature in the Bulletin des agriculteurs for 55 years. This character even attracted attention from academics. Onésime and his wife Zénoïde witnessed Quebec's evolution from their creation until quite recently.
I ask my colleagues to join me in paying tribute to this great cartoonist who was one of the country's pioneers in this art form.
Black History Month February 18th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to recognize Black History Month.
Afro-Canadians have contributed to the development of our country and have enabled Canada to become the country it is today—an open, diversified country with a global perspective.
Thus, the month of February is an opportunity to commemorate the numerous accomplishments and contributions these Canadians have made and continue to make to our society. In addition, it is an opportunity for all Canadians to learn more about the involvement and experiences of black Canadians in this society, because they play a vital role in our community.
For the past nine years—nine already—many activities have been organized across the country, and I invite everyone to participate. Being open to different cultures is an enriching experience for everyone who tries it.
Innovation Programs February 13th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, the past decade has clearly demonstrated the major impact innovation can have on the strength of the economy.
When we think about innovation we often think about universities or research and development labs at large companies. However, innovation can occur in other places such as small businesses or colleges.
To showcase the innovations that might come out of these prolific sources, this government has mobilized partners and committed the necessary funds: some $3.6 million. Together with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, an initiative was launched to help innovations get a foothold in the market.
Participating colleges could receive as much as $600,000 over three years to work with the private sector in order to market innovations quickly.
Health February 11th, 2004
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Heart and Stroke Foundation published its Annual Report Card on Canadians' Health. The findings of this report are very disturbing and the public should be made aware of them immediately. The foundation tells us that obesity rates are rising in our country and, together with the incidence of diabetes, obesity is becoming a major risk factor for heart disease in Canada.
Moreover, adults are not the only ones at risk, since obesity affects a high percentage of our young people. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada confirms that excess weight is now one of the largest public health problems we have ever faced.
I am happy to see that our government has already begun to attack this new threat, for instance, by creating a major campaign to promote a more active lifestyle among all Canadians.
Prime Minister October 22nd, 2003
Mr. Speaker, in his defence, the Prime Minister said these were personal funds. This is so damning and incredible that I would like the Prime Minister to tell me whether he recognizes that he has not only a duty but also a moral obligation to substantiate his claim.