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Last in Parliament October 2000, as Bloc MP for Portneuf (Québec)

Won his last election, in 1997, with 43.30% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Economic Policy October 19th, 2000

Madam Speaker, before making a comment and asking a question to my colleague from Drummond, I would like, as a preamble, to indicate to the House that last week I informed my colleagues of the Bloc Quebecois that I will not be seeking a third mandate.

I would like to take this opportunity to say to all my colleagues in the House how I appreciated working with all of them. It is indeed a privilege to represent our fellow citizens in this House.

I would also like to say that as a member of parliamentary committees and associations I had the opportunity to get to know some of my colleagues better, to develop a friendship with them based on mutual respect and consideration and to recognize their competence and their involvement in issues which we all wanted to see properly dealt with.

My only regret would be that it is still necessary to have members from Quebec sit in the House. I would have hoped to be the last federal member from Portneuf. I know that my colleagues had the same hope because if Quebec were sovereign there would be no need for us here.

Obviously the will of the people of Quebec has been different, but the presence of the Bloc Quebecois in the House, as we can see in today's debate and in those we have every day, is essential for the protection and the advancement of Quebec's interests. I might even add that it is more than ever essential. Thank goodness the Bloc Quebecois is here.

That leads me to ask a question to my hon. colleague from Drummond with regard to the mini-budget the finance minister delivered yesterday. Here I will digress to say that while I thought Christmas was on December 25, apparently it was yesterday. However make no mistake, the minister is not a real Santa Claus. He is a phoney Santa Claus because he is not delivering real gifts. I want to talk about the particular issue of the subsidy granted to individuals for heating oil. That is very nice, but not everybody heats their home with oil; others use other sources of heat. What about them?

Now that taxpayers will have a little more money in their pockets to pay their heating oil bill, what is stopping oil companies from raising oil prices? The law of supply and demand is well known. Market forces are at play, and it is not because the minister is offering that kind of fiscal measure that this will change.

Since consumers will have more money available, it will be a strong incentive for oil companies to raise heating oil prices in order to pocket that money. Besides, is that not precisely what oil companies have been doing for some time now, pocketing our money at the pump or at the time one buys heating oil in order to generate profits unheard of in many years?

In fact, the government is not dealing with the basic problem, which is the fact that oil companies are now abusing a situation I would describe as quasi-monopolistic and the consumers have to pay for that.

Does the hon. member for Drummond not think that with this fiscal measure of the finance minister there is a huge risk for the people she talked about, women in particular, to get swindled by the oil companies trying to put their hands on this little amount of money, which is not even enough to cover the additional costs they will be faced with this coming winter?

Youth Criminal Justice Act September 25th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that I rise in the House to speak to this bill on young offenders. I have done so at the various stages. I find myself here again today, at the report stage, repeating things that have been said many times, but the government seems too stubborn to understand them.

The bill before us does not deal with a new federal or provincial issue. An act dealing with young offenders has been in effect for many years. That act even went through a number of amendments a few years ago, and these amendments have resulted in a number of improvements to the current act.

Therefore that act, which has been in force for many years, has had tangible results on youth crime reduction. Indeed, since 1991, for the last nine years, the rate of youth crime throughout Canada went down 23%. This is an excellent result. The federal budget has greatly increased, which is not a good result. But youth crime in Canada has been reduced by 23% in nine years.

The legislation that is currently in force is giving good results. In English, there is a saying that goes like this: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Indeed, we have an act that is effective, and what is the federal government getting ready to do? It wants to scrap it. It wants to replace it with a piece of legislation about which everyone in Quebec says “It is not going to work. It will not give results. It will make things worse”.

The proposed legislation is based on some very wrong assumptions. They are assuming that, if an act imposes heavy sanctions on reprehensible behaviour, those liable to commit such acts will think twice before doing so. Between you and me, Mr. Speaker, who among us in this chamber of members of parliament and legislators, outside of those with a legal background, can say what the sentence is for going out and breaking a car windshield? I do not. I am not even interested in knowing. Most of the people of Canada and of Quebec probably do not know, nor do they want to. I have no desire to break a car windshield, but not because I am afraid of the law. I am a peace-loving person, able to settle life's problems by normal means.

A child, a teenager will be no more aware of the law than I. The fact that we are going to make speeches here in this place and that the government is going to toughen up certain measures is not going to scare him or her out of the idea of doing something wrong. Most children are normal and will not do such a thing.

For a variety of reasons, some children have behavioural problems and are going to commit some act that they will come to regret. Legislation is not going to make them stop and think, when they do something wrong on an impulse.

I was going to make a comparison, a rather poor one, but one that comes to mind. This approach is akin to sweeping dust under the rug. The child, the adolescent, commits some reprehensible act and, rather than help him with rehabilitation, we send him to prison and put him away, “Go on, dirt under the rug”. Yes but, let us stop and give that some thought. One day, this young person will return to society. Do you think he will be a better citizen for having been shoved under the rug for a time? Absolutely not.

If we the public are to enjoy quality of life, we must give our children appropriate care. The existing law provides for this. The one being proposed would not permit it any more.

In Quebec, we do more in rehabilitation even. Our program in Quebec is further ahead than that of anywhere else in North America. In Quebec, the juvenile crime rate is the lowest in North America. The process of rehabilitation is the best in North America. The rate of recidivism is the lowest in North America.

The recipe works. The moral is, since we have a recipe that works, the federal government says “Dump it. Let us make sure we have a recipe that will not work”. This is what we have before us. It is not just the member for Portneuf or the members of the Bloc Quebecois saying this. This is what associations, organizations and intermediate bodies are saying throughout Quebec and Canada.

In Quebec there is a consensus. The Quebec bar has criticized this bill. In the national assembly, all the parties together, unanimously, have criticized it.

Here, the Bloc Quebecois, through its actions in parliament, speaks on behalf of everyone in Quebec when it says “This bill must not be passed as it stands”.

If the people in the rest of Canada want to treat their children this way, I find it unfortunate, but that is their business. For the love of heaven, do not impose that approach on the people of Quebec. For the love of heaven, do not force Quebec into this unsuitable mould you are going to impose on your families and your children.

What we are asking is very simple. We want Quebec treated in a manner worthy of its values, its experience and its children.

All we ask is to have added to the bill a little clause to the effect that “This law does not apply to Quebec. The existing law will continue to apply”, so that our successful results will continue to be a fact of life for Quebecers.

If Canada wants to go through with that unfortunate measure, so be it. Perhaps in a few years, when it sees this 23% reduction go the other way, it will realize it made a mistake, but we do not want to pay for the stupid mistake that is being made.

If I were Mr. Bouchard, I would hold a referendum on behalf of children and I would say “We do not want to stay in a Canada that will force us to treat our children in an such a shameful manner. Let us get out of this country”.

If the bill is passed in its present form, it will be yet another reason, and a good one, to hold a referendum to achieve Quebec's independence, so that we can live in accordance with our own values, so that we can treat our children properly, something which the rest of Canada does not seem to be able to do.

It would be so simple for the rest of Canada to go its way and to let us go ours. We do not want to impose our views on anyone and we do not want anyone to impose their views on us, particularly when it comes to our children.

My time is up. I hope the government will hear this call and will exempt Quebec from the provisions of this bill.

Sydney Olympic Games September 25th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, three bronze medals for some real high flyers: they were won by 10-metre diver Anne Montminy, and trampolinists Karen Cockburn and Mathieu Turgeon, in a sport making its debut at the Olympics.

Our thoughts now turn to the Lareau-Nestor men's tennis doubles team, which has already captured one silver medal and could pull off a gold later this week, to young Quebec diver Alexandre Despatie, to the personable kayaker Caroline Brunet, and to cyclists Lyne Bessette and Geneviève Jeanson.

The Bloc Quebecois pays tribute to each of these athletes for their discipline and tenacity, their unwavering commitment to their dream, and their desire to be in top shape in order to deliver their best performance and bring home a much-coveted medal.

Financial Consumer Agency Of Canada Act September 20th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, in this business of the banks, one thing catches my attention. It is not necessarily something that surprises me. There are many things that unfortunately have stopped surprising me in the House since 1993. But this caught my attention.

There are some big banks in Canada. There are a few, not dozens, that are big. The National Bank, not to name names, is one of these big banks.

But when it comes to a bill like the one before us, the minister establishes two categories: the big banks which are bigger and the big bank which is the smallest. It happens that the latter is the National Bank. It is not surprising that it is the smallest, because it operates primarily in Quebec and Quebec represents only one quarter of the Canadian population. It is therefore not surprising that it is the smallest of the big banks, but it is still a big bank.

One might wonder why the Minister of Finance establishes two categories of big banks. This has repercussions because the big banks in the privileged category will not be able to be easily “sold” to foreign interests, while the other big bank, the smaller one, will.

If Quebec were a country, it would not have considered passing legislation that would have allowed its big bank to fall into foreign hands.

I can understand that Canada's Minister of Finance wants to introduce legislation so that these big banks cannot fall into foreign hands. But I wonder why he is prepared to sacrifice the smallest of the big banks, which happens to be a Quebec bank, and allow it to fall into foreign hands.

The legislation in its present form worries me. I am not the only one it worries; many others are concerned. I repeat that with this legislation, the young offenders legislation and other legislation, I am tired of not yet having my own country. That day cannot come soon enough for me.

The member for Drummond could perhaps give us her view of this situation.

Species At Risk Act September 19th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, the issue of wildlife species at risk or on the verge of extinction is certainly important. It is an issue that warrants our finding solutions that are both practical and in keeping with the constitutional arrangements existing between the provinces and the central government.

The problem with the bill before us is that in several respects the effects it will produce are not necessarily what we might hope for. In addition, it lands squarely in provincial fields of jurisdiction.

A number of members of the House and especially those on the government side have the impression that the federal government is in the best position to decide what is good for the people, for resources and for wildlife. It has been my experience since my arrival in the House, in 1994, that the government has shown itself consistently incompetent in all these areas.

It is not enough, to resolve the problem, to introduce a bill in the House that is supposedly going to protect wildlife species on the verge of extinction. First and foremost there must be a complete strategy in place to ensure that what the right hand wants to do will not be undone by the left hand.

Let me give a few examples of a left hand that is particularly gauche in certain areas. Allow me to remind this House that about a year ago, the auditor general announced, after tabling his report and researching the matter, that many wild species, both flora and fauna, had disappeared from national parks managed, as we know, by Parks Canada.

This was not a fortuitous occurrence. It was not a matter of chance. It was poor ecological management in the practices of Parks Canada. A commission made recommendations and a new law was passed. We can only hope there will be no other such occurrence.

All this goes to show that, with its bill, the federal government has not proposed anything that guarantees that the objectives pursued will be reached. In fact, there is every reason to believe that this bill will not solve anything, since the problems often lie elsewhere.

Here is another example of a problem lying elsewhere. We are going to talk about genetically modified organisms. The idea is not, in principle, to genetically modify plants or wild organisms. But here is what could and will, for all intents and purposes, happen.

Let me remind the House that the whole biological evolution of our planet is largely based on genetic mutations orchestrated by nature itself through cross-breeding, particularly through pollination. What is cross-breeding?

Everyone knows what a plant is, what a flower is, and everyone knows that, at some point, the pollen of the flower will travel and fertilize another flower to create a seed that will ensure the survival of the species. I am, of course, referring to plants.

Sometimes, cross-breeding will occur and a new species will be created. This is how the diversity that surrounds us came about. Nature, through selection, has created a balance that allows us to benefit from an environment that is healthy, provided we protect it adequately.

Let us get back to genetically modified organisms. I will make up a little horror story which, when we think of it, is not really a figment of my imagination. Some companies are currently marketing graminaceous plants. The farmer plants the seeds, so that they will grow and produce fruits. However, while the fruit can be consumed, it cannot replicate itself because the seed is sterile.

I would rather not think about what could happen if that sterility feature was somehow transmitted to another species in the wilderness. That species would slowly stop reproducing as pollen spread that undesirable feature. Some might argue that this is unlikely. But nothing is impossible with nature.

Our very presence on Earth as human beings is a strong demonstration of nature's capacity to yield highly improbable results. Nothing proves that if we manipulate genetically modified organisms we will not obtain results that are both unexpected and unfortunate.

I will talk about salmon. There is a genetically modified species of salmon endowed with an incredible growth capacity. It rapidly becomes a big salmon. Of course, this salmon is kept in fish farms. As long as it stays in its tank, there is no way it can reproduce in the wild, in our waterways or our oceans. However, fish have often escaped from fish farms and gone into the wild. So, I would not see why the genetically modified salmon should be unable to escape, as so many other fish have.

The day the salmon escapes and reproduces, given its incredible capacity to grow rapidly and to be bigger than the other fish, it will, as the saying goes, eat the smaller fish, the smaller salmon, and eventually, wipe out wild salmon, and take its place.

The government is not acting responsibly to protect our environment. This bill will not change the course of events. Much more important measures need to be taken.

In closing, I will give the example of Ducks Unlimited, an agency which was not set up through legislation like the one before us, but which has done wonders for the preservation of our natural environment, and which can be found everywhere in America, even in my riding. Its positive action has led to the protection of habitats, environments and species. Its initiatives should be given help and support on a larger scale, instead of the government introducing a bill which, for all intents and purposes, is going to upset everybody and most certainly will not yield the expected results. The government should withdraw this bill.

Canada National Parks Act June 13th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, we are at third reading of Bill C-27, on national parks.

It must be understood that the first objective of the bill is to ensure maintenance and restoration of the integrity of federal parks. Of course, everybody understands that these very important objectives cannot be reached only with one statute.

However, the maintenance and restoration of the ecological integrity of parks depend much more on the attitude of the Parks Canada Agency, its management and staff.

However, Bill C-27 is a first element and a legislative framework that will allow the necessary culture to emerge and to develop fully within the Parks Canada Agency.

In fact, that was one of the major recommendations of the commission, which recently reviewed those issues recently and which emphasized the need to make this change of culture and to prioritize the maintenance and restoration of the ecological integrity of parks. This bill could achieve that.

The bill states that, in the performance of his duties, the minister must consult the people and the authorities in the areas concerned. This is an indispensable element that is essential if the agency is to carry out its mandate. Indeed, in all the parks, there are aboriginal communities which, in certain cases, cannot be neglected in the everyday planning of the agency in the exercise of its mandate.

The bill provides, in my opinion, sufficient and efficient consultation of the communities and organizations concerned.

Furthermore, if this bill seems entirely acceptable on the whole, it does contain a clause that does not concern federal parks, but concerns historic sites. We do not know why this short clause, on historic sites, is in the bill, which is otherwise well structured. In fact, when we read this clause, we realize that it is quite badly written.

I suggested to the House, at report stage, that this clause be removed from the bill. But the House did not see fit to accept my suggestion.

This clause presents a serious problem for municipalities and provinces where there are potential historic sites. Indeed, this clause provides that the agency may acquire such historic properties and declare them historic sites without having to consult in any way the provincial or municipal governments concerned.

This aspect is out of tune with the rest of the bill, which clearly affirms that there must be consultations between the department, agency officials and, finally, the minister and the people or organizations concerned.

In this clause, there is no mention of any obligation on the part of the minister to take counsel together or to consult with the provinces or the local governments.

I find this strange and even frightening. That is why, on the one hand, I suggest that the provincial legislatures ensure that any real estate transaction that would result in the transfer of an historical site to the federal government be submitted, for approval, to the provincial minister concerned.

On the other hand, I humbly and respectfully suggest that the government review this clause and that it reword it more rigorously and, above all, in a manner that would be more respectful of the provinces and municipalities, regarding the preservation and the enhancement of the historical sites affected by this clause of the bill.

In conclusion, let me say that Bill C-27 will really allow us to focus on the preservation and the restoration of the ecological integrity of federal parks. In that perspective, the Bloc Quebecois endorses the goals of this bill and will obviously support it at third reading.

Canada Day June 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, as we can see, western Canada will receive six times less money than Quebec for the Canada Day celebrations. Ontario will receive ten times less and the Atlantic provinces 12 times less.

Is the government desperate to the point of thinking that spending three quarters of the Canada Day budget in Quebec will make Quebecers change their deep convictions?

Canada Day June 12th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, it seems that the Canada Day budget is divided as follows: Out of $7 million, Quebec will receive $5 million; Ontario, $554,000; the Atlantic provinces, $432,000; the western provinces and the territories, a little less than $825,000.

Could the Minister of Canadian Heritage tell us if this strange imbalance is why, last week, she refused to answer all our questions on this issue?

Canada National Parks Act June 9th, 2000

moved:

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-27 be amended by deleting Clause 42.

Canada National Parks Act June 9th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I will only take a few seconds to say that I did not in any way intend to minimize the excellent representations made by the people from the Mingan Archipelago. I simply wanted to point out that their MP chartered a plane to allow them to appear before the committee.

I think that is most praiseworthy on the part of the member, and that it needed to be pointed out in the House, without minimizing the excellent representations made by these witnesses.