Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Témiscamingue (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2008, with 20.73% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Foire gourmande de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue et du nord-est ontarien May 14th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, I had the honour of announcing, on behalf of the Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, a contribution of $71,516 for the Foire gourmande de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue et du nord-est ontarien.

This initiative, which will cover a two-year period, helps promote not only local products available to the public, but also partnerships among producers, consumers, distributors and wholesalers on both sides of Lake Témiscamingue.

Thanks to the exceptional work of organizers and participants, this trade fair provides an opportunity to create economic alliances, in addition to being a major tourist attraction for the region.

We thank the whole team and we invite people to visit the fair during the third weekend of August 2004.

Employment Insurance May 12th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, following the recommendations of the Liberal task force, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development announced new measures for seasonal workers.

Can the minister confirm to this House that the five-week extension of employment insurance will take place under existing conditions?

National Child Benefit May 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, today, I want to stress the significant efforts made by our government in recent years to fight child poverty.

Through the national child benefit, the Government of Canada provides financial support, programs and services to low income families.

The government is committed to ensuring that children get a good start in life, as evidenced by the 2004 budget, which includes an additional $75 million.

I am proud to be part of a government that wants to strengthen the social foundations of our country, now and in the future.

Projet Jeunesse Saint-Michel May 5th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, this past April 24 and 25, a spaghetti festival was held to raise funds for Project Jeunesse Saint-Michel in Rouyn-Noranda.

In a friendly competition with my provincial counterpart, Daniel Bernard, more than 6,000 servings of spaghetti were sold with the help of 154 volunteers.

My thanks to all the volunteers and all those who attended over the two days of the fundraiser in support of this youth organization.

Canadian Foundation for Innovation May 3rd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, on April 26, the Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec announced an investment of $311,856 under the Canadian Foundation for Innovation for research at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

This investment will create research infrastructure for new researchers in silviculture and wildlife management.

One of the purposes of the CFI is to enhance the capacity of universities to pursue research activities and develop technology in world-class facilities to benefit all Canadians.

Research and Development April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, could the Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec tell us about the measures undertaken to increase the ability of Quebec and Canadian universities to pursue technological research and development activities of international scope that will benefit Canadians?

Claude Poulin April 28th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to inform this House that, on April 25, Claude Poulin, a retired teacher from Abitibi-Témiscamingue, was awarded the 2004 Beppo prize, at Montréal's Biodôme. This prize honours the exceptional work of an assistant of Professor Scientifix of the Club des débrouillards.

I would like to take this opportunity to draw attention to the remarkable work of Mr. Poulin. He has been with the Club des débrouillards as a volunteer for many years, in addition to being one of the creators of the science fair, an activity in which he is deeply involved.

Congratulations to Mr. Poulin.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I wold like to speak to Bill C-23, the FIrst Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act in the debate at report stage.

The last time this assembly discussed the FIrst Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act, some people wondered whether the first nations in fact supported the bill. Not only do many of them support it, they have worked long and hard to move it forward. These first nations deserve our support.

Bill C-23 is an extension of a series of measures initiated some fifteen years ago. In 1988, the House of Commons passed an amendment to the Indian Act which had been proposed by a first nation, a historical first.

This amendment, commonly referred to as the Kamloops amendment, in honour of the Kamloops first nation, had to do with the economic development of first nations. The amendment clarified the authority of first nations to collect property taxes on reserve lands, Before this amendment, taxes paid by non-aboriginals on property located on reserves often went to nearby municipalities.

As a result, many first nations did not have access to a revenue source they absolutely needed to provide services to their community and improve their local economy. Consequently, this deprived them of opportunities for economic development, job creation and improved quality of life for residents of the reserves.

All parties in the House gave their support to the 1988 amendment. Those who voted in favour will all be pleased to learn that it did indeed generate new possibilities for the first nations. Bill C-23, inspired by the lessons learned since 1988, should have that same unanimous support.

The 1988 amendment created new conditions. In 1989, the first nations headed the creation of the Indian taxation advisory board, the purpose of which was to help the first nations establish a property tax system. In 1995, they set up the first nations property tax commission. SInce then, this administration has helped first nations to raise private capital mainly via the bond market, using tax revenues in order to finance the infrastructures needed for their economic growth.

Bill C-23 is largely based on the research done and the experience gained by these two first nations bodies. Over the years, these organizations have consulted the first nations that were collecting property taxes, including the taxpayers and the financial and commercial sectors. These efforts proved very successful.

This budding tax system has allowed for the construction of public facilities on reserves, including drinking water supply and sewage treatment systems to support commercial development. Indeed, this tax system has allowed for the construction of public facilities that benefit all residents and that facilitate the delivery of public services to which these people are entitled, in return for the property taxes that they pay.

The current first nations property tax system provides greater financial leeway to local decision-makers. This has allowed them to improve public services for their community and to build their local economy. However, like any new system, experience tells us what improvements need to be made. This is why Bill C-23 is based on some 15 years of experience and seeks to strengthen the tax system to make it a real tool for sustainable economic development.

Bill C-23 will improve benefits for participating first nations. It will build a more comprehensive and more transparent tax system that will provide greater certainty to taxpayers, commercial partners and potential investors. These conditions are necessary to ensure thriving economies.

The bill also establishes the legal and constitutional framework that first nations need to set up a bond financing system.

This system will be available to all first nations that meet the eligibility criteria, and will reduce their borrowing costs by 30% to 50%. It will provide a better return on taxpayer dollars and a better balance between costs and benefits.

Although a growing number of first nations have adopted property tax bylaws in accordance with federal legislation, others have opted out of these provisions.

Each community can decide whether or not to exercise its taxation authority. Bill C-23 simply makes the necessary tools available to them. Each nation can choose to start imposing property taxes, using the provisions in the federal legislation. To do so, each nation must adopt its own bylaws. To date, 98 first nations have imposed property taxes in accordance with the provisions in the Indian Act, and 30 other nations are preparing to do so.

Agencies established under Bill C-23 will provide first nations with the professional support they have until now not had, which limited their potential for economic development in the Indian Act taxation system.

The first nations who choose not to levy property taxes or issue bonds will nevertheless benefit from the provisions of Bill C-23, which sets up dynamic statistical and financial management systems. These systems will be of interest to a number of nations trying to successfully complete their transition to self-government.

The bill makes it possible for individual first nations to choose the laws and services they need. It is a kind of menu perfectly suited to the first nations of Canada, whose interests and perspectives vary considerably.

Bill C-23 offers opportunities to the first nations—they can choose to take them or not. The experience of 1999 with the First Nations Land Management Act has shown the wisdom of this approach.

When that legislation was introduced, only a few first nations saw the advantage of establishing a legal framework that would give them greater mastery of their lands. These first nations called for changes and put their energy into achieving them. Today, more than 100 first nations want to use the tools in the First Nations Land Management Act to meet their needs.

The Auditor General of Canada consulted 13 first nations and 4 tribal councils and governments in 5 provinces. Her 2003 report describes the three main obstacles to economic development for the first nations, namely, barriers to accessing economic development resources, barriers to accessing federal business support programs, and barriers resulting from federal management and institutional development approaches.

Bill C-23 illustrates the work of a group of first nations who came together to overcome some of these barriers to their development. They did so for a good reason: they knew their members were suffering everyday because of the presence of these barriers causing lost opportunities and reducing their quality of life.

These first nations deserve our full support for this bill.

The time has come to go ahead with Bill C-23. The time has come to support the first nations who will take advantage of these provisions in order to attract and maintain investments in their communities. The time has come as well to give them the tools that non-aboriginal communities have taken for granted for a very long time.

Cattle Industry April 1st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec for recognizing that applied research at the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue is important.

This university has received a grant to develop a new kind of high quality veal not currently available on the market.

Given the numerous consequences of the mad cow crisis, our cattle producers need our support. I am proud to support the Boeuf eN'OR project, which will help develop a new market and assist our cattle industry.

The government's contribution to university research will allow the entire agricultural industry and the country to take advantage of technological advancements and remain on the cutting edge in this field.

Cattle Industry March 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, could the Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec tell the House what the government is doing to support research in Abitibi-Témiscamingue in order to develop new markets with regard to cattle production?