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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was workers.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Chambly—Borduas (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 27.70% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Employment Insurance March 25th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development is misleading people who are unemployed when she says that the reform proposed by the Bloc Québécois and the unions would allow individuals to receive 50 weeks of benefits for 360 hours of work; this is untrue. For example, in Chicoutimi, a person would receive 20 weeks of benefits, which is not an excessive amount.

Will the Minister of Human Resources stop bending the truth in imitation of her colleague, the Minister of International Cooperation, and finally admit that 360 hours of work does not entitle a person to 50 weeks of employment insurance benefits?

Petitions March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I also have two other petitions to present.

They deal with affordable housing, specifically low-income housing, in Quebec. There are currently 65,000 households living in housing that requires renovations. Yet we know that the government has made more program cuts this year.

I have two petitions here that are signed by hundreds of Quebeckers who are calling on the government to reverse its decision. They are asking that these programs not be cut and that, instead, affordable housing receive more funding for renovations and improvements. The buildings are falling apart.

I hereby present the two petitions concerning affordable housing.

Petitions March 24th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by 462 people who are calling on the government to improve the guaranteed income supplement.

This petition is even more relevant because in its budget, the government left only crumbs for seniors with regard to the guaranteed income supplement.

This petition calls for an increase of $110 per month for people who live alone and $199 per month for the survivor's allowance. The petition also calls for retroactivity for the amounts owed to those eligible for the guaranteed income supplement and a six-month extension of the spouse's allowance in the case of death.

This petition was sponsored in particular by the Fédération de l'âge d'or du Québec, or FADOQ, which I would like to acknowledge today for the work it is doing to stand up for its members.

Employment Insurance March 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is in fact because we read the budget that we are going to vote against it.

The government claims that the changes proposed by the Bloc Québécois and the unions would entitle people to one year of benefits for 360 hours of work. That is not true. For the Gaspé, for example, an unemployed person who has just enough hours to be eligible will only be entitled to 32 weeks. In Chicoutimi, it is 20 weeks.

Instead of hiding its indifference toward the unemployed behind lies, will the government commit to not stealing from the fund and to improving the employment insurance system instead?

Employment Insurance March 23rd, 2011

Mr. Speaker, true to form, the Conservative government continues to ignore the urgent needs of the unemployed and did not include any measures in its budget to help them. Worse yet, instead of vastly improving the employment insurance system, the Conservatives are going to help themselves to the employment insurance fund, as the Liberals did, in order to subsidize those who are better off.

Does the government realize that its indifference toward workers in Quebec is what might trigger an election?

Employment Insurance March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, it is transitional until something better comes along. This “something better” has not come yet, and the government has extended certain pilot projects to buy time until the election. Instead of proposing piecemeal measures, the government should undertake a sweeping reform of the employment insurance system to increase benefits and make it easier to access the system.

Will the government use the budget to improve the employment insurance system and provide better support for vulnerable workers?

Employment Insurance March 21st, 2011

Mr. Speaker, transitional measures were put in place in 2000, after the employment insurance economic regions were inadequately reconfigured. Certain regions, like the Lower St. Lawrence and north shore areas, have a blended unemployment rate, which was adopted in an effort to correct this error until the next reconfiguration. These transitional measures are now being phased out gradually.

Will the government renew the transitional measures until there is a fair reform of employment insurance?

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my Conservative colleague for his question because it allows me to illustrate the reason why we voted against this budget.

We see that this is an opportunity for them, even as we speak, to make huge cuts in social housing, renovation and improvement of social housing units, housing units for low-income seniors and disabled persons, housing units in the north and renovation of housing units for members of the first nations. The cuts add up to $912 million. The Conservatives need to explain to us why they are continuing to slash social housing, when we know that the two biggest factors that make people poverty-stricken are the absence of housing—or of affordable housing—and employment insurance. Instead of him giving a big speech or showing off as he just did, I would have preferred to hear what he had to say about that. That would have been more practical.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate our colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for the tremendous work he is doing. We have been working together for some years now, and I know how concerned he is with justice.

His question allows me to go back to something. There is a sort of contempt here for parliamentary authorities. When someone responds that way to a job as exceptional as the one that we did, it is contemptuous. The work was done in the context of Canada's parliamentary institutions. Even though we have different opinions on the status of Quebec, we, the Bloc members, are respectful of Canadian institutions because we know that a country needs democratic institutions like these. When someone responds that way to such an exceptional job, done by members from all parties, it is contemptuous of the democratic institutions and the work that we have done.

Business of Supply March 10th, 2011

Mr. Speaker, I inform you straightaway that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead. It is an honour for me. She is a member I hold in great esteem. Not only does she do marvellous work here on Parliament Hill, but I know how devoted she is to her constituents, the people of her riding. I have had the opportunity to share responsibilities in human resources and social development with her for more than four or five years. I am mentioning this file first of all because it is most interesting to realize that the Conservatives are using this file, this responsibility, to engage in propaganda.

There are two things at issue today on this Bloc opposition day: the Conservatives’ hijacking of democracy and the propaganda they are spreading with the resources that the House makes available to the government and to ministers.

I shall not repeat the examples given by my colleagues, but I will use one very particular example, that of the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development. On February 26, 2011, the Canadian electoral authority formally charged the Prime Minister's Conservative Party with fraud, along with two senators from the party in power, namely the Conservatives. They allegedly concealed cost overruns during the 2006 election in an amount in excess of a million dollars. Two individuals have been targeted as respondents in this case: Mr. Irving Gerstein and Mr. Douglas Finley. The latter is not only a senator, but also the spouse of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

There are some rather troubling things. Since this morning, we have been highlighting all the methods and stratagems that this government is using in order to deprive Parliament of the means it has to oversee, however slightly, what goes on in government, or at least to acquire information, and also in order to engage in propaganda. Here is what I am getting at. For four years, the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development, and the Status of Persons with Disabilities was engaged in a very thorough study. This committee went all around Canada. We went to the provincial capitals, and often as well to villages and towns, to study, on site, the issue of poverty, which was the topic of our study. We held 68 different meetings, I believe. We also heard over 200 organizations. This led us to make 58 recommendations proposing ways of combatting poverty. You will recall that in November 2009, this House unanimously reiterated its desire to see poverty eliminated, or at least reduced, within 10 years.

This report was therefore entirely appropriate and entirely relevant. The only response that the minister was able to give us, which I have here in my hand, is a propaganda document. We have had no response on the 58 recommendations made by the committee.

The minister responded to each of the problems we raised by mentioning existing programs and giving the Conservative government credit for having instituted them. But there is no new program to reduce poverty. What is even more infuriating, and even scandalous, is that the minister simply disregards all the testimony from all over Canada describing the poverty of aboriginal populations and single-parent families, the fate of seniors and of people who lose their jobs, and the plight of children living in poverty. If there are poor children, it is because there are poor parents. Rich families do not decide that some of their children will be poor and live in poverty. Some families simply do not have the means and have to deal with situations that they cannot control or that are forced upon them. Such is the case of native communities, for example.

There are some very specific recommendations highlighting the plight of women living in various places all over the country. This week we marked the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. The minister’s answer coincided with this anniversary, making it all the more outrageous that she did not take the trouble to announce anything at all to reduce poverty.

The House has reiterated its unanimous motion from 1989, which was never implemented. The motion was brought forward again on November 22, 2009. The government and the House took it up, but the minister thumbed her nose at the opportunity given her by the Standing Committee on Human Resources to announce some measures. Her actions showed her contempt for all the work that has been done here.

I encourage my colleagues in the House to study this document sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page. I have re-read it because I thought I must have made a mistake. It is 17 pages of coarse, outrageous remarks and propaganda. We have to connect the dots because there are political families. The senator who supervised the operation that the Conservatives are accused of using to circumvent the Canada Elections Act is the husband of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. People might wonder what the connection is. The answer to this question is just as serious as or even more serious than the misappropriation of funds because it involves all the people who are struggling in our society.