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Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Saint-Maurice (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2000, with 54.07% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Right Honourable Prime Minister November 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, after the tributes I have received from the member for Davenport, the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, the member for Calgary Centre, and the member from the New Democratic Party, I am at a loss for words.

What I found most touching is that everyone mentioned my wife Aline. She has been by my side since 1963, through very difficult political battles and tense moments in this life, which we love so much but which is so fraught with pitfalls. I benefited from her incredibly good advice and very sound judgment on political situations and on people. I thank her for everything she has done for me, the party and the country.

Mr. Speaker, when I arrived here in 1963, as the leader of the Bloc Quebecois said, indeed I had some different views. However, when I came to the House of Commons and I met the representatives of all parts of Canada, some of my views changed.

As I said in a speech one day, I was, like many young Quebecers, a very proud Quebecer, a very proud French Canadian. When there was some crisis, for example the case of Marcel Chaput, I had a hell of an argument with some of my colleagues in Trois-Rivières after court. I socked it to you anglophones on that lunch; my friends, you do not know how much.

There was one friend of mine who had been studying previously in Ottawa and in New Brunswick. He said to me bluntly, “Jean, you are talking through your hat. You've never been out of la Mauricie. You've never been outside of Quebec, in the rest of Canada”, and he was right.

When I left that lunch, I was not happy. I was inclined to want to extend to him the Shawinigan handshake. After 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles on the way to Shawinigan, I began to say to myself that he might be right. A few months later I was a candidate for my party. I came here and learned what it was all about to be a Canadian.

Some of my views changed for the better. After 40 and a half years, I am still here. It is a great institution. We have very different points of view, but I know everybody is working on behalf of his or her constituents to make this country better, to make everybody's life better.

It is a coincidence that the member for Edmonton North, who just left the House, is quitting at the same time as I am. I remember when she arrived as the first member of the Reform Party. She was a very aggressive person who was really tough on me. I was sometimes a bit tough on her too, but I have great respect for her and I would like to wish her good luck.

I went to raise money for the member from West Vancouver, but I thought he would keep his money in B.C. and not come to Ottawa.

Fisheries and Oceans November 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for the question. I know of his very deep commitment on the issue.

I am pleased to inform him and the House that this afternoon the Minister of Foreign Affairs will sign Canada's instrument of ratification for the UN convention on the law of the sea. The instrument will be deposited with the secretary general of the United Nations soon after.

This is great news for all Canadians. By ratifying, Canada gains a voice in an international institution set up by the convention and will be able to advance our commitment to improving the conservation of fisheries on the high seas.

Foreign Affairs November 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I like to be nice. It is not that I do not want to be nice.

I know one thing, when we have inquiries of this nature a lot of expenditures are incurred. If there is no Canadian, it cannot be justified. He cannot name one person on the Canadian side who is responsible for anything. We checked with all the departments. We could not find anything. The only accusation came by a statement from the secretary of state of the United States who said that Canadians were involved. It is in my judgment his responsibility to say so.

If there was no Canadian involved, this is not the time to have a fishing expedition.

Foreign Affairs November 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I said yesterday that this deportation was done by the American government and we were not involved.

One official said that they had received advice from the Canadian government. The Minister of Foreign Affairs asked his counterpart who had said so to reveal the name and the information they have about the so-called Canadian participation. We are not to start an inquiry in Canada about something that has been done in the United States, having no facts to justify an inquiry.

If things come from the Americans that demand that we look further, of course we will look at what can be done. Accordingly, at this moment--

Employment Insurance November 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I think everyone knows that Canadians have collectively rolled up their sleeves and succeeded in eliminating the deficit. That is why today, for example, instead of mortgage rates of 11.5%, people with low incomes are paying only 6%.

That is why there is so much construction, which creates jobs, thereby reducing unemployment. I believe we have always been concerned with ensuring that the weakest members of society have access to work and the self-respect that goes with it.

Employment Insurance November 6th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, first, I think that the hon. member ought to recognize that the government and the Canadian economy have created 3 million jobs in recent years. This is a considerable contribution to those who, unfortunately, find themselves facing unemployment.

The unemployed receive benefits, which is why the minister said, “When they are unemployed, they unfortunately do not pay into the fund”. When they are working, however, they do.

I think that anyone would have understood the Minister of Finance very well if they had listened carefully.

Foreign Affairs November 5th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, we have passed laws here in this House to ensure that the security of Canadians is safeguarded. Since September 11, 2001, the world has changed. I think that the hon. member does not want to admit that.

Terrorism is a problem that must be taken very seriously. Here, we have passed laws that have passed the charter test and that ensure the security of Canadians and combat international terrorism. This is an obligation we have, and we are shouldering our responsibilities.

Foreign Affairs November 5th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, my party's whip raised the issue, for example. We have been in the forefront to make sure that Mr. Arar could return to Canada.

However, people are demanding a public inquiry into the activities of the U.S. government. To hear the opposition talk, it is as if this gentleman had been deported to Syria directly from Montreal. He was deported to Syria by the U.S. authorities. Therefore, it is the U.S. government that owes an explanation to all Canadians because it was the one that deported him.

Foreign Affairs November 5th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I think this is an accusation based on nothing. He has not proven anything.

The facts are that this gentleman was in New York and he was deported to Syria by the American government. The Canadian government had nothing to do with it.

When we heard about it, we protested and did everything we could to get him out of jail in Syria. We sent people there to talk with the government. We did everything until he was liberated by the Government of Syria.

Equalization Payments November 5th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, in the last budget we transferred billions of dollars, in accordance with our agreement with the Government of Quebec and the other governments.

We had made a conditional promise of $2 billion, and now we have changed the formula in order to ensure a greater chance of having that amount at year-end.

As for the equalization payments, these are covered by a federal law that has been in place a long time. We take a look at demographics and government revenues, and reach a conclusion. Some years, the provincial governments get more than expected and, other years, they get less, but this is governed by federal legislation.