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Last in Parliament October 2000, as Bloc MP for Joliette (Québec)
Won his last election, in 1997, with 46.54% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Canadian Forces Day October 20th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, we have before us a non-votable motion, which allows us to state our intentions if that motion were some day to be voted on in the House.
In our opinion, the text the mover submitted to us in amendment today would have been more acceptable than the one we have to debate on.
Unfortunately, the change itself was unacceptable today. Since 100 members had signed to indicate their support for the bill, we could not today, out of respect for those 100 members, accept to debate a different text from the one already accepted.
Since the motion is non-votable and since the member who moved it will eventually come back in the next parliament with a proposal that hopefully will be made votable, we will nevertheless say what we think about the text now before us.
There is no doubt that we would be in favour of a means of recognizing the dedication of the members of the Canadian armed forces. We must not recognize the dedication of only the current members of the Canadian armed forces, as there are also former members who are now retired and for whom there is no recognition day.
We have a recognition day for veterans, Remembrance Day, for those who were killed in action, who gave their lives to defend the freedom of our people.
There are also those who, fortunately, did not have to pay the ultimate price, but who nevertheless put their lives at risk. These people were members of the Canadian forces for years. Their contribution should also be recognized on certain days.
These people took part in peacekeeping missions abroad. They may have helped during catastrophes in Canada. They may have done exactly the same job, without losing their lives. They are as deserving of our recognition as those who died.
The question is whether, in order to recognize all these people, we should have three special days during the year: one for the veterans who died at war, one for those who did not die but spent years with the Canadian forces in the service of the nation, and another for those who are currently in the Canadian forces. It would never end.
This issue should be examined by a committee. We could look at how the contribution of these people could be acknowledged on one or two specific days. I believe that in some countries one day is set aside to remember those who died at war, and another one is reserved for the country's armed forces. Perhaps we will come to the conclusion that two days are needed but, in my opinion, that second day should not only include current members of the Canadian forces, but also former ones.
The motion before us talks about the “contribution of the Canadian Forces to the protection of Canadian sovereignty”. I think it inaccurate to seek a day of commemoration for this reason, Canadian sovereignty having never been threatened. No foreign power wants to attack Canada. No foreign power has threatened Canada's sovereignty.
Why would we set aside a day to pay tribute to those who have never had to fight to protect Canadian sovereignty, which has never been threatened? The sovereignty of a country is threatened when the citizens of that country no longer want it. That is the only situation in which that sovereignty can be threatened, and only a country's citizens may decide to retain or modify their sovereignty.
This is something that could happen, because the people of Quebec, who are in favour of Canadian sovereignty without wanting to be a part of it, would like to be a sovereign nation themselves. One day would have to be found to defend and celebrate Quebec's sovereignty, and another to celebrate Canada's sovereignty. There would be two different days and I am sure that all Quebecers would be happy, under those circumstances, to observe these two days to celebrate the sovereignty of two peoples who deserved to exist, the Canadian people and the people of Quebec.
Unfortunately, these are my last words in this august assembly. I will not be a member in the next parliament, because I am not seeking a new mandate. It was a great honour, during these seven years, to defend the interests of my country, Quebec. I was very struck by the democracy which reigns in this place, a democracy which we would like to see continue in the nation we are seeking.
I was also extremely proud to serve the inhabitants of the very lovely and large riding of Joliette. I hope that my successors will enjoy themselves here as much as I have, that their stay will be as short as possible, and that they too will continue to defend the sovereignty of our wonderful nation, Quebec.
Liberal Government October 20th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, what a sad end to this mandate. The cat is out of the bag at last and the reports by the information commissioner and the auditor general have brought in their verdicts: the economy is fine, the government is not.
Throughout its mandate, this government has systematically blocked information, held back documents and refused to co-operate with the information commissioner.
The commissioner has just released over his signature a damning report making unprecedented charges against the Prime Minister, his office, and a number of departments.
As for the auditor general, he has roundly criticized the sloppy management of public funds by Human Resources Development Canada and the fact that there are a number of files under police investigation.
What a sad end to a mandate: a government that is under the burden of criminal investigations, and a Prime Minister who has no fewer than four of these going on in his own riding. This is unheard of.
On the eve of an election campaign, I say to the government “We can hardly wait to get out on the hustings to start talking about Liberal values”.
Employment Insurance Act October 19th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, I rose on a point of order, not to continue the debate.
I simply wanted to tell the Chair that some speakers were scheduled to speak and that we should not proceed with the vote immediately. This is what I wanted to point out. But since you indicated that we are resuming debate, you have answered my question and I do not think there is any objection to proceeding in this fashion.
Defence Production Act October 17th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, Bill S-25 amends the Defence Production Act. It indicates in its summary that the Minister of Public Works and Government Services is responsible for administering the new regime, which requires a person to be registered or exempted from registration by the minister to have legal access to these goods.
One's first reaction to the bill is that it might as well have been written in Latin. We need a translation for just about every sentence, because it is not exactly clear.
Sections 26 to 29 are repealed and replaced. These referred to anyone committing an offence and making a false declaration, which carried a $500 fine. The old act ended at section 34. This one goes to 46, where it indicates rather flatly a list of controlled goods, that is, prohibited firearms and ammunition with a calibre greater than 12.7 mm.
It is moreover stipulated in subclause 37(1) that “No person shall knowingly examine or possess a controlled good or transfer a controlled good to another person”. Subclause 37(2) further states, and I quote:
No person registered or exempt from registration shall knowingly transfer a controlled good to or permit the examination of a controlled good by a person who is not registered or exempt from registration.
I shall try to translate these provisions from Latin into plain English.
Then, in subclause 38(3), it is stated that “The minister may deny an application for registration or suspend, amend or revoke a registration on the basis of a security assessment—”. The minister may also designate inspectors. In other words, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services has considerable power as far as the import and export of military materiel is concerned. He also has absolute power over the designation and selection of inspectors.
As we know, absolute power without the imposition of regulations or criteria sometimes creates inequalities and opens up the possibility for patronage and for finding jobs for the party faithful.
That is the weak point of the bill. Is it necessary, in order to accomplish our objectives, to give so much discretionary power to the minister?
Clause 43, under Regulations, states that the governor in council may authorize officers, directors and employees to examine, possess or transfer controlled goods. It seems to be mainly the penalties that are changing. Suclause 45(1) states, and I quote:
Every person who contravenes section 37 is guilty of a ) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both; or b ) an indictable offence and liable to a fine not exceeding $2,000,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years, or to both.
In short, this is a warning to those thinking of diverting goods from their ultimate destination.
My comments will be very brief. As I already said at the very beginning of my speech, Bill S-25 cannot be praised for its great clarity.
We would have liked the powers of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to be more clearly defined in relation to those of the Minister of National Defence.
We would also have liked the minister's powers to be a bit more limited, less discretionary and less conducive to unfairness.
Nonetheless, the tightening of controls on the middlemen in the import and export of these arms would seem to us to be appropriate. The penalties for offences become serious, where before they were merely symbolic. I think that this will also be a valid measure that we will approve.
This is important, because importing sophisticated weapons requires that middlemen be above any tampering. In future, however, bills having to do with national defence ought to be much clearer.
Despite these reservations, we are prepared to support in good faith the procedure for rapid passage of this bill, given the particular political circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Points Of Order October 6th, 2000
No, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of National Defence, but he was not there either when we came back that Friday.
On Friday the 22nd, when we came back into the House and gave our unanimous consent to allow an NDP member to put his question, the Minister of National Defence had already left.
Points Of Order October 6th, 2000
Mr. Speaker on Friday, September 22, the fire alarm rang and we had to leave the House in a hurry, just as I was about to ask a question.
At that point, Mr. Speaker, you promised that the following Friday you would take into account the time that was left during that oral question period.
Last Friday, another unforeseen event took place, as everyone knows, and the following Friday, which is today, I noticed that for some reason you did not take into account that period of time, since oral question period ended at noon.
I would still like to ask my question and I would like the Chair to tell me when I will be allowed to do so.
Cultural Industry September 28th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to know exactly where we stand, because this motion is already deemed to have been put and the vote deferred until next Tuesday.
If it is already deemed to have been put, how can we now drop it and resume debate? It would be necessary to go back on an earlier decision. I seek clarification, so that we do not get caught.
Supply September 21st, 2000
Madam Speaker, the hon. member has given us an argument in explanation of the government's refusal to lower the excise tax by 10 cents a litre. We are told “The government is prepared to do this, but only if the provinces are also prepared to discuss doing so, and to do it”.
I cannot see how this argument, which strikes me as more of a pretext, relating to the absence or presence of provincial co-operation would ensure that this tax would no longer serve to add to the profit margin of the companies.
The federal government says “If we proceed unilaterally, we fear the benefits will end up in the companies' coffers”. But is there not the same risk if it is done along with the provinces? In my opinion, it is not because the provinces are involved that this obstacle, the risk that the profits will end up in the companies' coffers, will be avoided.
How can the hon. member explain this logic? It strikes me as more of a pretext used by a government that is actually thinking “If I am going to go short of revenue, the provinces have to as well”. This is bad logic.
Canadian Military June 9th, 2000
Mr. Speaker, on May 23, Brigadier General Richard Bastien announced in London before a group of Canadian parliamentarians that, in the fall of 2000, a contingent of some 100 Canadian military personnel will be standing on guard at Buckingham Palace in London.
Can the minister tell us how much this parade will cost the Canadian taxpayer?