Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Frontenac—Mégantic (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 36.65% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Employment Insurance May 11th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the hon. Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development announced this morning new measures worth some $270 million over two years to better meet the needs of employment insurance claimants.

The changes announced today will ensure that the program promotes greater labour force participation by encouraging workers to accept any available work.

In addition, the provinces that participated in the Older Workers Pilot Projects Initiative will be offered additional funding in 2004-05. The projects are designed to help older workers aged between 55 and 64 to remain employed or reintegrate into the labour force.

Today's initiatives are but the beginning of a solution. It is still our government's intention to implement more sustainable solutions as soon as the Task Force on Seasonal Work has submitted its final report.

Semaine minière du Québec April 27th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, Quebec mining week 2004 was kicked off yesterday in Chibougamau.

In Quebec, in both the regions and urban centres, tens of thousands of jobs depend directly and indirectly on the success of the mining industry.

Quebec is duly recognized as a centre for mining excellence. More than ever, there must be encouragement for this economic sector, which has to keep up with the dizzying pace of scientific developments and the evolution of specialized technologies.

Whether it is finding innovative ways to reforest tailing sites or developing a better asphalt by adding chrysotile fibres, those working in the mining industry show creativity and innovation.

I ask my colleagues to join me in celebrating the mining industry's important place in Canadian society.

Mental Health April 21st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of five mental health agencies in the Asbestos region. La Croisée, le Havre, l'Intervalle, the Asbestos general hospital and the CLSC-Frontenac received the Most Innovative Mental Illness Awareness Week Event award for 2003.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association awarded this honour to these agencies for the innovative and imaginative documentary called Je t'aime pareil .

I congratulate those who become involved in such innovative community activities to unmask mental illness.

The Environment April 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, between now and September, Canada will have to decide whether or not to add chrysotile asbestos to the PIC procedure of the Rotterdam Convention.

During recent consultations, stakeholders in my region objected to the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos to this procedure.

My question is for the Minister of the Environment. Does Canada intend to yield to the pressures of the European Union and Chili in signing this convention?

Maria Labrecque Duchesneau April 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell hon. members about a very interesting initiative.

Maria Labrecque Duchesneau, who is a member of the organization called Au coeur des familles agricoles, is suggesting to our government that it establish a Good News Day.

I think that this original idea has some merit. The arguments put forward by Mrs. Duchesneau are very relevant.

In a column published in La Terre de chez nous , Mrs. Duchesneau points out that as soon as we wake up, we are bombarded with information that is depressing to say the least: war atrocities, concerns about the future and so on.

I invite my colleagues to give serious thought to establishing a Good News Day. This would provide an opportunity to forget for a moment the precariousness of the human condition and instead to reflect on the things that remind us that life is truly beautiful.

Export Development Canada February 25th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, yesterday evening the Auditor General presented Export Development Canada with the Award for Excellence in Annual Reporting in the category of large crown corporations. This is the sixth time that EDC has received this award since its inception in 1994.

This award demonstrates EDC's dedication to the principles of transparency and accountability. It also recognizes the excellence of EDC as an organization that has succeeded in balancing a business-like approach with the implementation of major public policy projects.

We should also point out that, for the first time, the Canadian Commercial Corporation won the Award for Excellence in Annual Reporting in the category of small crown corporations.

The Minister for International Trade is privileged to be responsible for these two crown corporations that have won the Auditor General's award this year.

Special Olympics Canada February 18th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, from February 16 to 21, Prince Edward Island is hosting the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games. This national edition of the Special Olympics is a prelude to the Special Olympics World Games to be held next year.

Competing in an international event is the motivation for the more than 8,500 certified volunteer coaches and 28,000 athletes with an intellectual disability to train with all their might worldwide.

Before entering competition, the athletes take the following oath: “Let me win,but if I cannot win,let me be brave in the attempt”. I think that my hon. colleagues will agree with me that this is a most noble statement, from which we could all draw inspiration.

I invite my colleagues to join me in saluting the courage and determination of these athletes.

The Barbarian Invasions February 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, we take pride today in drawing attention to the extraordinary accomplishment of one of our fellow citizens.

Canadians are familiar with the film work of Denys Arcand, and have appreciated it for many years.

The fame of the most recent Arcand film, The Barbarian Invasions , has gone far beyond our own borders. After winning an award at the prestigious Cannes festival, it is now in U.S. theatres, and our neighbours to the south are discovering the incredible talent of this creative genius.

Following on its Golden Globe nomination, there is a definite interest in Mr. Arcand's film in the United States. It has two Academy Award nominations.

This government extends its congratulations to Denys Arcand for these richly deserved honours. I invite the House to join with me in wishing him the best of luck. Break a leg, as they say in the theatre.

Specific Claims Resolution Act November 4th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary for his question.

With respect to the bills concerning aboriginal people, we have put in a great deal of effort in recent months to try to find solutions. It is not an easy job, when there are 630 communities and therefore 630 chiefs, to find solutions that please everyone.

Nevertheless, this government is making efforts to find solutions that are truly fair for the future, to help the aboriginal communities, which are in need of help. Not all of these communities need help. We are told that more than 50% of them are doing very well.

For those that are not doing as well, these bills have been drafted accordingly. As we know, the purpose of Bill C-6 is to save on the huge amounts spent on legal fees. This money would be better spent more equitably for first nations.

Specific Claims Resolution Act November 4th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to take part in this debate on Bill C-6, the Specific Claims Resolution Act. This bill is one of the ways the government proposes to provide the first nations with the necessary tools for self-governance, so they can fully participate in life in Canada.

The Specific Claims Resolution Act is part of the government's overall strategy to institute a new specific claims resolution process that is more effective than the current process.

Our colleagues on the other side of the House have submitted a series of significant amendments to Bill C-6, in direct response to the concerns of first nations and in order to improve this bill. These amendments should, in turn, help the first nations have confidence in the new Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of First Nations Specific Claims, to be established under this bill.

With regard to the proposal currently under consideration, it has been said that the current specific claims resolution process could be more effective and, as a result, long costly court cases could be avoided. We must invest in the essential issues affecting aboriginals instead of in costly court cases.

Under the current claims resolution process, only a few claims could be resolved each year. The current list of claims is growing daily, in excess of those resolved.

This bill had the full participation of the first nations. There was a joint task force, which presented recommendations on the need to establish an independent entity responsible for claims resolution. As the minister indicated this morning, the fact that this bill is being considered today proves that the initiatives of this joint task force have been largely successful.

Originally, the bill limited the tribunal to settlements under $7 million for claims resolved in the proposed system. After numerous consultations and presentations before the Senate committee, an amendment was moved to increase this ceiling to $10 million.

This new ceiling is realistic. This amendment responds to the concerns of first nations. As we said, this increased amount would apply to most of the claims currently before the Government of Canada.

We know that some say there should be no limits at all. Again, there are many spending priorities, and our budget is not unlimited. We much live within our means and according to our financial obligations.

Another important element from first nations that we heard in the Senate hearings was the concerns regarding the appointment process for the chief executive officer, the commissioners and adjudicators of the proposed new body.

We now have an amendment that would give first nations a greater opportunity to make representations with respect to appointments and to be more actively involved in the review process. There is also a proposal to confirm post-employment conflict of interest rules.

Much work has already gone into drafting this bill, and there have been many studies, including three separate reviews by committees of Parliament, and more than 50 hours of debate.

It has been a long road to get here. As a government, we pledged to have a system in place to resolve first nations claims in a way that would be accountable, transparent and impartial, that would level the playing field for negotiation and resolve claims more quickly and effectively, to provide aboriginal people with enhanced opportunities for economic development in a climate of certainty.

This bill enables us to leave behind an outdated process and take a new direction that will provide first nations with a more fair, effective and equitable tool.

Time has now come to act on this.