- On the Parliament site
Last in Parliament October 2000, as Bloc MP for Argenteuil—Papineau (Québec)
Won his last election, in 1997, with 40.87% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Seasonal Workers October 20th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, while the rich are well looked after by the government, seasonal workers will have to make do with a few temporary crumbs for one year only, and will have to get through the winter on nothing after using up their paltry 21 weeks of benefits.
How can the Minister of Finance justify ongoing and generous tax breaks for the rich while seasonal workers must make do with crumbs, and temporary ones at that?
International Free Trade Zone At Mirabel October 6th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, in September the government of Quebec inaugurated an international free trade zone at Mirabel, thus following up on the recommendations of the Tardif commission through a series of actions to assist investors. We are still waiting to hear from the federal government.
What stage is the federal government at with respect to the international free trade zone at Mirabel? Will it stop dragging its feet and finally take action?
Interparliamentary Delegations October 5th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which represented Canada at the 103rd Inter-Parliamentary Conference, held in Amman, Jordan, from April 30 to May 6, 2000.
Marine Conservation Areas Act September 28th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in this House to speak to Bill C-8. At the start of my remarks I would like to pay tribute to the hard work done by the member for Jonquière to protect the environment.
Bill C-8 concerns the creation of a network of national marine conservation areas, the marine equivalent of national parks. This network would be representative of 29 marine regions in Canada, covering the waters of the Great Lakes, inland waters including swamps, the territorial sea and the 200 mile exclusive economic zone.
With this bill, the government will set the boundaries of the marine conservation areas in all the regions in Canada, in consultation with the people of the area. This phrase is very important.
Bill C-8 gives the governor in council, on the recommendation of the Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans and Canadian Heritage, the right to limit or prohibit activities in commercial zones in order to protect marine resources.
It also gives the governor in council, on the recommendation of the Ministers of Transport and Canadian Heritage, the right to limit or prohibit transportation in marine conservation areas.
It is important to note that 1998 was set aside as the year of the oceans by the UN.
The most important activities held to draw attention to this event include the world's fair in Lisbon, Portugal, and the adoption of the ocean charter by UNESCO in September 1997 in St. John's, Newfoundland.
The government claims it is important to preserve the natural marine ecosystems and their balance to maintain biologic diversity. It says there is a need to establish a representative network of marine conservation areas, whose scope and features will ensure the maintenance of healthy marine ecosystems.
The Bloc Quebecois supports environmental protection measures. We have always given our support. It gave its support when the government introduced legislation to establish the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park.
In addition, in my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, the Argenteuil Parti Quebecois and the PQ subcommittee on the environment for the Laurentian region submitted briefs to the BAPE. People wanted to show their support for the protection of the environment, particularly ecosystems in the groundwater, marine conservation areas, forests and other areas.
In 1986, the federal government launched the marine conservation area program. In 1988, the National Parks Act was amended to take into account the establishment of temporary protected marine areas. Since then, the following areas were created: Fathom Five National Marine Park in the Georgian Bay, the Gwaii Haanas marine conservation reserve in British Columbia, and, of course, the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park.
The park is over 1,100 square kilometres and has a unique tourist component, the importance of which we are just beginning to grasp. This marine park was 14 years in the making. Its management is shared by the provincial governments and, yes, the federal government.
The project began in 1985. It took quite a long time to create the park because of the public consultations, environmental studies and negotiations that were required. That precedent should have served as a model for the federal government in establishing other marine conservation areas.
It should be pointed out that co-operative mechanisms already exist to protect ecosystems in the Saguenay—St. Lawrence marine park, and in the St. Lawrence River, under the agreement entitled “St. Lawrence action plan, phase III”, which was signed by all federal and provincial departments concerned and which provides for an investment of $250 million over five years in various activities relating to the St. Lawrence River.
Therefore, the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to this bill, first because it is not clear whether Quebec's territorial integrity will be respected. Second, the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to this bill because Heritage Canada is proposing the establishment of a new structure, that is the marine conservation areas, which will simply duplicate Fisheries and Oceans' marine protected areas and Environment Canada's marine wildlife reserves. There are many people doing the same thing.
Quebec's jurisdiction is recognized under the British North America Act of 1867. So, there is overlap within the federal government. With the bill, the government wants to establish marine conservation areas under the responsibility of Heritage Canada, marine protection areas under the responsibility of Fisheries and Oceans and marine wildlife areas under the responsibility of Environment Canada. As I said before, three cooks might spoil the broth.
The same site could have more than one designation. It could be designated as a marine conservation area by Heritage Canada and as a marine protection area by Fisheries and Oceans. In both cases, it is said that the local population will have a major role to play in the establishment of marine protection areas. The Bloc is concerned about problems related to the bureaucracy.
The same area, according to Fisheries and Oceans, could fall under different categories and be subject to different regulations. We know that when more than one department is involved in a project, there are difficulties and additional costs to the taxpayers.
I think the government would have been better to make sure that ecosystems are managed by one department only. The departments involved should sign a framework agreement to delegate all of their responsibilities over ecosystems to the same department while respecting constitutional jurisdictions.
I also want to mention the fact that the preliminary consultations were a failure. Furthermore, during hearings by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, almost all groups from coastal areas heard condemned the bill on the grounds that the system proposed by Heritage Canada would duplicate part of the work done by Fisheries and Oceans and create confusion.
On February 11, 1999, Patrick McGuinness, vice-president of the Fisheries Council of Canada, told the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage that it was simply inefficient, cumbersome public administration. I remember because I was there. In his view, bringing forward this marine conservation area initiative in its own act under the responsibility of a separate minister and a separate department was unacceptable. His conclusion was that the bill should be withdrawn.
Jean-Claude Grégoire, a member of the board of directors of the Alliance des pêcheurs professionnels du Québec, which represents almost 80% of all professional fishers in Quebec, also told the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage that there were numerous problems. In his testimony, he mentioned that because such an area is scientifically inaccessible, you tend to work a lot more with unconfirmed data or assumptions of what exists than with actual scientific knowledge of what you are dealing with.
Lastly, I want to point out that the Bloc Quebecois believes that the consultation conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Quebec with respect to the introduction of marine conservation areas was also a failure.
Furthermore, the Bloc Quebecois knows that the Government of Quebec is also engaged in initiatives to protect the environment and submerged lands and water in particular. Bill C-8 does not respect Quebec's territorial integrity.
In conclusion, the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of measures to protect the environment, but opposed to Bill C-8 for all the reasons I have mentioned.
Bombardier September 20th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, on August 11 Bombardier made an official announcement of the construction of its new plant in the Montreal foreign trade zone at Mirabel, which is in my riding.
This is excellent news, since it will create 1,700 jobs in the Mirabel region, and investments of some $170 million. Assembly operations for the CRJ900, Bombardier's new 90-seat aircraft, and of the CRJ700, its 70-seat model, are expected to begin next spring.
Bombardier's location in Mirabel's foreign trade zone is the direct outcome of the recommendations of the Tardif Commission on the development of Mirabel airport.
I must therefore thank the government of Quebec for its involvement in this matter. It will be recalled that the foreign trade zone was created in response to the flagrant lack of action by the federal government.
Species At Risk Act September 19th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today at second reading of Bill C-33, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada.
Before I start my remarks, I would like to mention that the International Fund for Animal Welfare held a precursory event when this bill was introduced in the House.
They allowed MPs to officially adopt an endangered species. Dr. Rick Smith, the Canadian director of the international fund for animal and plant welfare, gave each MP a certificate on an endangered species and an information booklet on its habitat and the dangers threatening its survival.
He told members about the following survey: a Pollar survey conducted in May of 1999 confirmed that 97% of Canadians believed that laws to protect endangered species are important. In addition, 85% felt that Canada's legislation should be the most rigorous and complete in the world. The survey results were consistent across Canada.
I myself received an adoption certificate making me responsible for protecting the Anticosti aster, a species whose survival and recovery depend on global and stringent legislation on the protection of species at risk. The Anticosti aster is one of the 313 Canadian species in danger of disappearing.
I would point out that two of our eminent colleagues from the other side of the House adopted well known mammals: the beluga and the blue beluga. For the two of them, the war of the belugas would obviously not have happened. The members have only to consult their list.
Biodiversity as a whole is the result of the evolution of the earth over close to 4.5 billion years.
It is to be noted that the secretariat of the convention on biological diversity has had its head office in Montreal since November 1995. The decision was made at the second conference of the parties, held in Jakarta.
The secretariat follows up on the decisions made regarding the protection of biological diversity when the convention was signed. By signing the convention, the nations of the world pledge to preserve the biological diversity of our planet, to use biological resources in a sustainable way and to share genetic resources fairly.
Starting in the 1970s, international conventions were signed to restrict the trade of certain species and to limit the trade of those threatened with extinction or that are highly vulnerable.
In recent years, scientists have been telling us that we are seeing more and more species become extinct, as well as increasing numbers of others being threatened with extinction or becoming highly vulnerable.
The UN report on biodiversity mentions several factors explaining the decline in biodiversity. One of these factors is the increase in population and economic development which, in their own way, contribute to the depletion of biological resources.
The increase in human migration, travel and international trade is also a threat to biodiversity, as is the increase in pollution.
It should be noted that the government has already introduced Bill C-65, an act respecting the protection of species at risk in Canada which died on the order paper.
The federal government can play a role in protecting wildlife species under certain statutes such as those dealing with fisheries or with our national parks. However no federal legislation exists for this specific purpose.
If passed, Bill C-33 would be the first Canadian legal instrument dealing specifically with the protection of wildlife species at risk.
It is estimated that close to 70,000 known species have their habitat in Canada, many of which are found only in Canada. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, or COSEWIC, has designated 340 wildlife species as at risk in Canada.
This organization, established in 1978, is composed of representatives from every government agency, province and territory, as well as four national conservation agencies. It is the main player in the protection of species and it is responsible for establishing an index of the endangered species in Canada.
As well, through clause 36, the bill forces the provinces who identify some species as threatened species not listed as endangered species by COSEWIC to apply the same restrictions to their own species as those imposed on designated species.
By doing so, the federal government is assuming the right to impose its own way of protecting species. By giving discretionary powers to the Minister of the Environment, the bill does not respect the division of powers as stated in the Constitution.
Bill C-33 interferes in an area under provincial jurisdiction and excludes the provinces from any real and direct input into the process. The protection of species can only be effective if habitats are also protected, but it is the responsibility of the provinces to manage these issues in co-operation with the various stakeholders.
While it may be appropriate for the federal government to legislate to protect migrating species, this government has no constitutional authority regarding the management of habitats on provincial lands.
The Quebec government cannot let the federal government infringe again upon areas of provincial jurisdiction. Quebec already has its own legislation protecting endangered species and their habitats.
The principle of providing greater protection to endangered species is in itself one the Bloc Quebecois readily supports. However we do not believe that Bill C-33 will improve the protection of species at risk.
In fact we oppose the bill because it constitutes a direct intrusion into many areas under Quebec's jurisdiction. It even overlaps the act Quebec passed in 1989.
The bill could very well increase the paper burden. The Quebec government has already legislated in areas covered by Bill C-33.
We recognize the need to improve the protection of our ecosystems and the endangered plant and animal species that constitute them, but we do not believe Bill C-33 is the way to go. The Bloc Quebecois is opposing the principle of this bill today.
In closing, I will repeat the opinion expressed by the Liberal member for Lac-Saint-Louis on June 12 of this year, and I quote:
We are not even starting with the roll of the list of the 339 species identified by COSEWIC. That is a glaring fault in the law. Without a listing there cannot be protection.
Human Resources Development Canada June 9th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, we have learned that elderly citizens have been the victims of administrative decisions by HRDC which are utterly unfair and unacceptable. The department went as far as to withdraw amounts from their bank accounts without their knowledge to recover overpayments.
Should the Minister of Human Resources Development not be ashamed of herself for allowing this harassment of ordinary citizens and the withdrawing of money from their accounts, when she is unable to recover millions of dollars in grants and to produce the invoices of Placeteco, which has misappropriated more that $1 million?
Human Resources Development Canada June 8th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, there is a report in La Presse concerning the case of Mrs. Irene Parry, aged 78, who has fallen victim to Human Resources Development Canada policies.
HRDC did not think it worth mentioning to Mrs. Parry that there had been a two-month overpayment of her late husband's pension. The department paid itself back by directly withdrawing the amount from Mrs. Parry's bank account, but it mistakenly took ten times the amount owing. This they call an administrative error.
This is not an isolated case. Projet Génèse, a community organization, held a press conference yesterday to reveal two other cases of victims of the scandalous attitude of HRDC. The cases of Mr. Spence and Mr. Georgantas took close to two years before they were settled, and there was no acceptable reason for the delay. The two men were left in deplorable living conditions and without income.
Given all this, I believe that the minister needs to move beyond public excuses and apologies and to take steps to ensure that such situations are not repeated.
St. Lawrence River June 2nd, 2000
Mr. Speaker, allow me to mention an initiative by the Secrétariat à la mise en valeur du Saint-Laurent, an agency of the Government of Quebec that promotes the St. Lawrence River in Quebec and elsewhere in the world.
We cannot overstress the importance of the St. Lawrence, when 60% of Quebec's population lives on its shores.
The economic impact of marine and port activities in Quebec is considerable, since they generate over $3 billion in business. We are talking here of 27,000 jobs and a payroll of over $1 billion.
The flag of the St. Lawrence serves primarily to remind us of the inestimable heritage the river represents and to encourage our collective pride of this major resource.
The flag is also a quality souvenir for important visitors, and serves as promotional material here and abroad.
Congratulations to the Secrétariat à la mise en valeur du Saint-Laurent.
Smart Communities May 19th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Industry said the files of the smart communities had been analyzed by an independent committee. That is all very well. However, he set up the committee, chose its members and set the criteria for Groupe Forces of Shawinigan.
Will the minister acknowledge his responsibility in this matter and reveal the criteria set and the results obtained by each of the finalists?