- On the Parliament site
Last in Parliament May 2004, as Bloc MP for Berthier—Montcalm (Québec)
Won his last election, in 2000, with 57.09% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Verbal Abuse Prevention Week Act March 12th, 2002
Mr. Speaker, as this motion will not be votable because unanimous consent was denied, we can debate this bill, but that it will lead nowhere. It is deplorable to have, in this House, debates and speeches on issues that come to nothing.
Another example, debates on parliamentary procedure and enhancement of the MPs' work will have to be closely examined, because they are starting to look more like a popular television talk show than parliamentary debates where serious work is done and worthwhile bills are introduced for the members to vote on. Whether we are in favour of or against a bill, our constituents, the people who voted for us and appointed us as their representatives, must be made aware of our position on every single bill.
Today, we are debating Bill C-414. I am pleased to take part in this debate because we will never say enough about the whole issue of abuse, whatever form it may take. This bill deals with verbal abuse. It is aimed at establishing the first week of October as Verbal Abuse Prevention Week. I think that nobody in this House can be against such a bill. It would mean being against a principle supported by everyone, namely that there is too much verbal abuse and that it should not exist.
We live in a strange society if we have to establish a Verbal Abuse Prevention Week when we should all agree that there is too much verbal abuse and that it should not exist. I am sure we all recognize that verbal abuse is the first step toward physical abuse. In a way, through our work in this place, through legislation and other means, we are trying to reach the objective of zero tolerance with regard to physical abuse. However, we must start somewhere. Anyway, it is unrealistic to think that we can reach this objective of zero tolerance with regard to physical abuse.
But as I was saying, we must start somewhere. I sincerely think that working to prevent verbal abuse is a good start. I know that certain provinces, including Quebec, have already launched ad campaigns and put in place verbal abuse prevention programs, particularly in the schools. We see some of these ads in movie theaters sometimes. I think this is a very positive initiative.
Having a Verbal Abuse Prevention Week to educate people and encourage discussion on this issue would be very positive. We could talk about it more with young people. Verbal abuse often starts at a very young age; it starts in the schools and the playgrounds.
I said earlier that we are a strange society, we tolerate a lot. Indeed, there is a lot of verbal abuse in games, hockey, amateur sports. We only need to go to an arena to see that parents are encouraging a certain kind of violence in their children taking part in sports. Parents use a lot of verbal abuse. I know there is such a thing as competitive spirit and it is healthy. One must be competitive. We are in politics here and we are all competitive. However, there is a line that must not be crossed. Frankly, I believe some parents do not know where to stop with regard to verbal abuse in arenas.
With a verbal abuse prevention week, maybe we could increase the awareness of parents involved in amateur sports and hockey, even professional hockey. One has to go watch a game at the Forum to realize there is verbal abuse. If one is close to the ice, from time to time one will realize that there is verbal abuse on the ice also.
This is a major societal problem, since this kind of abuse may one day lead to physical abuse, as mentioned by my colleagues who spoke before me.
When we look at violence in all its manifestations, be it verbal, which is the subject matter of the bill before us, or otherwise, the issue of violence tolerated on television comes up. There is also a certain level of verbal abuse tolerated in films. One day, we will have to look at this issue and the fact that it is encouraged. A verbal abuse prevention week might help these people realize that they may going down the wrong road. There is a point when lines have to be drawn and not crossed.
Earlier, the member seemed to compare verbal abuse and taxing in schools. We must really make a clear distinction between the two, because taxing is physical abuse; it is not verbal abuse. Those who practise taxing go beyond verbal abuse, since they commit an act. They say “Give me 10 bucks or I will break both your legs”. This is taxing and it is physical abuse; it cannot be considered as verbal abuse.
Anyway, to get back to Bill C-414, I believe we could have such a week, not only for young people, but also for the elderly. There is some verbal abuse among children and the elderly. Even in hospitals, there may be verbal abuse toward the elderly. I do not believe it is done maliciously, but at some point, because of fatigue, stress or for any other reason, one does something and it goes to the next level, that of verbal abuse. With time, it can lead to physical abuse.
We could have a special week to promote awareness of all this and get information on this issue. I believe it would be desirable. It would be productive for MPOs, for groups dealing with young people and people who are not so young, for those who look after the elderly.
I will conclude by saying that it is all very fine to consider a verbal abuse prevention week, but I believe it must be supported by public money. If we want it to yield results, if we are serious about it, if we want to be preventive--I believe a dollar of prevention ends up saving a lot of money in terms of health care, psychologists, penalties and physical crimes--to start with, maybe we should go for a verbal abuse prevention week. Eventually, maybe not today but some time in the future, we should also consider using public money to reach certain segments of society. We could reach the groups where verbal abuse is the worst and take preventive action to reduce its impact on society as a whole.
Point of Order March 12th, 2002
Mr. Speaker, if the member says that he is familiar with the problems in our ports, then he must realize that things are not going well in that area, that organized crime is very present there, that the number of inspectors has been reduced and that the technology used for checking containers is outdated. Canada has not come out of the 1950s yet with regard to that technology. There are problems.
The member says that he is very familiar with the situation. He is a government member, so he can pass along messages. He can tell the Minister of Finance to put money into ports and national security and to give police forces adequate funding. It is one thing to have legislative tools, but it also takes money to be effective in our fight and to ensure that a complex piece of legislation is properly implemented.
There can be abuse. This is why we must target our efforts, and I think Canada's ports deserve our attention, considering everything that is going on and the information we have in that regard.
Point of Order March 12th, 2002
Mr. Speaker, indeed I am aware of the Senate committee that studied this issue. If we really want to be successful in fighting organized crime and terrorism, perhaps the time has come to look at what is going on in our ports, since Canada has major ports on two oceans. Perhaps the time has come to review the whole issue of recruiting practices, of the influence of organized crime on people who work in our ports, the effectiveness of ship inspection procedures, and available resources.
I said earlier that the number of people working in Canada's ports has been reduced, and I was not joking. Despite everything that happened, the government felt it necessary to make cuts in terms of inspecting ships and checking containers and goods arriving in Canada by ship. I think it is a serious problem. If it takes an inquiry to find a solution, then it should be carried out, because everything that has to do with what can land in our country through these points of entry is very important.
Point of Order March 12th, 2002
Madam Speaker, before I proceed, I want to say that I totally agree with what my colleague had to say about the motion.
For those who are watching, it might be interesting to read the motion once again, to fully appreciate the comments that can be made throughout the debate. It was not supposed to be a votable motion, but it will be following a decision made by the Speaker of the House.
The motion reads as follows: “That this House condemn the government for its failure to implement a national security policy to address the broad range of security issues, including those at Canadian ports of entry and borders, and call on the government to reassert Parliament's relevance in these and other public policy issues”.
There is a part of this motion that we cannot disagree with, but there is also another part on which we cannot agree and, since this motion has been made a votable item, members will understand that we have to vote against it.
In the last few weeks, even the last few months, the Bloc Quebecois has made its position clear on the bills the government introduced to address the events of September 11 and the issues of international crime and terrorism.
I said at the time, and it still holds true, that we do not have any real example of how this policy has been implemented or abused. As my colleague mentioned earlier, there will always be the potential for abuse as long as the legislation opens the door to certain things, and the legislation in question does open the door to this kind of abuse. I remember stating very clearly in this House that, if the government had a clear vision on how to fight terrorism, it should have submitted its anti-terrorism legislative agenda.
What did it do? First, it introduced Bill C-36, which provided for a whole series of new powers for police and law enforcement officers. It included very broad definitions and infringed upon rights and freedoms, all under cover of ensuring national security.
I remember saying it. The police, the government and the ministers, to whom Bill C-36 gives great powers, bragged about these new powers. Twenty-four hours before this bill was introduced, one could not have imagined that such a piece of legislation would be introduced in this parliament, in a country called Canada. Canada is not a police state, as other countries may be.
Using as an excuse the events of September 11, the need to protect national security and the fact that the public was concerned, the government introduced Bill C-36. Even then, I had concerns about its application, and I still do. The fact that there has not been any abuse of these new powers so far does not mean that it will never happen.
In its great wisdom, the government did not unveil its entire legislative menu to fight terrorism. First, it put Bill C-36 through the House, and then it introduced another bill, Bill C-42, which went a little further. Unfortunately for the government, it went too far and met resistance.
We already had Bill C-36, which allowed electronic surveillance, gave increased powers to the police, and authorized arrests without a warrant. Then there was the whole issue of the sunset clause in the bill, which finally became a review clause. These powers already exists. Bill C-42, without giving increased powers, without providing for the establishment of military zones or something of the kind, went much too far, and it was just unacceptable.
However, we know that because of pressure from the United States, part of this bill was passed before Christmas because the U.S. had finally decided that no Canadian plane would be allowed to land in the U.S. if this part of the bill was not passed. We had no choice, economically, from the point of view of travelling and all that could result from refusing to pass that part of the legislation. We therefore had a vote and passed that part.
As for the legislation, as my colleague said earlier, the government seems to deal with in a piecemeal fashion. If the government really had a clear vision of the type of legislation needed to deal with terrorism effectively, it would not have gone about it this way. It would have introduced legislation as a package that we could have analyzed on the basis of our own experience and of the case law that exists in this country, with our way of doing things and with our charter of rights and freedoms. We could have analyzed the whole range of government initiatives to fight organized crime. Instead, it has been done bit by bit.
Worst yet, on top of giving excessive powers to some categories and putting forward legislation that is going too far, which I hear even from the police, the money is not forthcoming to make sure the act is implemented properly. It is all very nice to give powers to the police, but if we want these powers to be exercised properly, if we want that there be monitoring, to prevent abuse and to fight efficiently against terrorism, we must make sure we have the money to implement the act.
I can already hear the government say “We have allocated the money; we made an announcement”. Indeed, it announced it would invest $576 million over six years in national security, $21 million of which had already been announced even before September 11. However, it lumped it all together to make the amount look bigger, to make itself look good and to score political points. It said “Five hundred and seventy-six million dollars over five years”.
However, if we take away what had already been announced for various programs, we are left with $87 million a year of new money to implement the Anti-terrorism Act, increase monitoring at borders and in ports, when we know that the government's position on ports is to cut personnel. Indeed, there have been layoffs in major ports, in the ports of entry for containers and ships coming from abroad. The government has made cuts when it was supposed to enhance port security.
It is so true that, in this respect, I read recently in the paper that the Americans were going to put their own people in Canadian ports to monitor everything heading for the United States through Canada. This is going too far. Canada is loosing its sovereignty to foreign countries. On top of this, the border will be just about 100% monitored by the Americans.
Mr. Speaker, you seem to be in agreement with what I just said. I realize that what I am saying does not please the Liberals, but that is the reality. If Quebec were sovereign, we would have done things quite differently from the government across the way. This is another reason why Quebec must be sovereign, because we do things differently from the people across the way. Furthermore, it is the only way for Quebec to develop as it should.
However, I did not intend to talk about Quebec's sovereignty. Let us talk about Canada's sovereignty and the great Canadians opposite who kowtow to the Americans and give away a little more of Canada's sovereignty every day. One of the latest compromises is to allow Americans in Canadian ports to rule the roost with respect to the containers in transit to the United States.
This is the vision the members opposite have of Canada. I could have talked about this for hours, but it would seem that my time is up. This is a very interesting topic, but as my colleague said previously, we cannot support this motion for the reasons I mentioned and many other reasons, whether it pleases the government or not.
Canadian Police Association March 12th, 2002
Mr. Speaker, allow me to salute the delegates of the Canadian Police Association, who are holding their eighth annual meeting with parliamentarians today, on Parliament Hill.
As the Bloc Quebecois critic on justice, I have the pleasure of working with them on a regular basis throughout the year, and I can attest to their professionalism and to the quality of their commitment.
While we do not necessarily share their vision of criminal law, which is significantly influenced by westerners and by Canada's right wing, I can say that there is very good co-operation between the Bloc Quebecois and the CPA, particularly the Quebec chapter of that association. Our objective is to fight all types of crime effectively.
Therefore, the Bloc Quebecois would like to take this opportunity to thank the CPA for its work and availability. I also want to stress your determination in achieving your objectives, which are, in many cases, the same as ours. Thank you, and I look forward to working with you.
Species at Risk Act February 25th, 2002
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am following you carefully and I believe you skipped some of the species. I would like to check it out.
Under the bird species among others, you did not mention the Acadian flycatcher, the prothonotary warbler and the white-headed woodpecker. I was wondering if you would get back to them later. There is also the whole part dealing with the mountain plover, charadrius mountanus, the piping plover, circumcinctus , the king rail, the—
Youth Criminal Justice Act February 4th, 2002
Mr. Speaker, it is good to see that the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has understood Quebec's approach, and it is equally good to see that the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas, a western riding, has understood what we are doing in Quebec. I thank him for supporting our amendment.
It must be understood that we all stand for the amendment we moved to this motion, which deals with the Senate amendment. We will vote against the Senate amendment, not because we are opposed to what is being said about the specificity of the aboriginal people, but because this is already provided for in the Young Offenders Act.
Why is it already done for young aboriginals? Simply because the cornerstone of the act passed in 1984 was the needs of young people. It was not an issue of racism. Whether the issue is the needs of young aboriginals, of young Quebecers, of young Ontarians or any nationality or origin, we looked at their particular needs to rehabilitate these youths living in Canada.
We have no need for this reference to the specificity of the aboriginals because this is already provided for in the Young Offenders Act.
Since we know that the minister has not met with any member of the coalition, that he has not met with experts or stakeholders from Quebec on this issue, how would the hon. member qualify what the minister is doing to pass rapidly this bill, without consulting the people of Quebec?
Youth Criminal Justice Act February 4th, 2002
Mr. Speaker, I think the speech made by the member for Mississauga West is just further proof that government members confuse things and do not understand Bill C-7 that is before us.
I will give you just two examples from the member's speech. He talked about the criminal code and Bill C-7 as two pieces of legislation that should be identical. He even referred to section 718 of the criminal code to justify certain changes made to the legislation dealing with young offenders.
They are two different systems. Each time the government amended the Young Offenders Act, it was to bring it more in line with the criminal code. It is a mistake. I think the member does not understand that.
He also does not understand when he said that Bill C-7 would allow us to use various extrajudicial measures, as if this were something new. The Young Offenders Act already provides for alternative measures. It is exactly the same thing as extrajudicial measures. Maybe it was easier for the member to understand when we were talking about alternative measures instead of extrajudicial measures, but it is the same thing. Once again, this shows that the member for Mississauga West does not understand the bill on which he will be voting.
When he says that he is representing his constituents, I am sure that if he were still in Queen's Park, he would be against Bill C-7, as the majority of MLAs in Queen's Park is against it, not for the same reasons as the Bloc Quebecois and Quebec in general, but rather because it is not repressive enough.
To illustrate the fact that there really is a problem with this legislation, it does not have the support of hardliners nor does it have the support of Quebec that has been using an approach based on rehabilitation and reintegration for 30 years. What should have been done is what we proposed, namely allowing provinces to withdraw. All those provinces wanting to withdraw from Bill C-7 to continue using the Young Offenders Act should be allowed to do so.
Does the member, who sits on the government side, find it normal that the new Minister of Justice is refusing to meet with the experts and stakeholders in Quebec to gain a better understanding of what we are doing there before ramming Bill C-7 through, as he has just done by limiting debate and gagging opposition members, particularly those from Quebec who want to properly defend Quebec on this matter?
Youth Criminal Justice Act February 4th, 2002
Mr. Speaker, since I do not have much time, I mostly want to congratulate the member in my comment. In the end, his stand is not that far from the stand of the Bloc Quebecois. I think that we could sit down and surely find some common ground.
In fact, as regards its treatment of young offenders, British Columbia is one of the provinces that has listened the most intently to Quebec. I know quite well, since I talked with the deputy public prosecutor, who, I believe, appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, that there have many years of consultation between Quebec and British Columbia to know exactly how the law was applied and particularly to know what the Quebec model was. In British Columbia, it was recognized that there was a Quebec model, that things were done differently as regards the treatment of young offenders.
What does the member think of a Minister of Justice who is rushing to have Bill C-7 passed even before consulting or meeting with the stakeholders in the field to understand the issues and to see how the law is applied in Quebec and, I would say, even in British Columbia?