House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament September 2007, as Bloc MP for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 45% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean June 4th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, people want to keep me from speaking. They will be no more successful today than in the past. I intend on exercising my right to speak.

My colleagues have said some kind things, and I would like to thank them. It reminds me of a very popular Loto-Québec ad, in which they say that it is important to always be nice to people who play Lotto 6/49. I have a feeling that here, in this House, the advice would be to always be nice to the person who is leaving to host a daily public affairs show.

I would like to take this final opportunity to thank you personally, Mr. Speaker. As luck would have it, our paths have crossed throughout my career in the federal Parliament, when you were parliamentary assistant to the government House leader. You and all the employees here have always worked to allow us to express ourselves, to say what our constituents want us to say. What a wonderful profession it is to uphold the rights of democracy. That is your profession, Mr. Speaker, and that of so many people working behind the scenes, such as the clerks—whom I salute—and everyone else who works in the House to make our job here easier. I would also like to thank the pages who have served us so loyally, year in and year out. I would like to say a few words about the pages. I learned to take them seriously in a rather interesting manner. In 2004, during a debate at the time of my sixth election, I was up against a House of Commons page from the previous year who was running for the NDP—he was running for the riding next to mine—and it was a difficult debate. In going up against him, I learned that a person's worth is not measured in years. I encourage my hon. colleagues to take our pages very seriously. That was my most difficult debate. He was very kind, however, and made no comments about our past experiences together in this House. He acted as if he knew nothing of it and focused on the content.

I would simply like to express to my leader, to my colleagues and to all those present in this House, the esteem in which I hold them and the pleasure I have derived from working with individuals who are so well versed in various areas of the life of our society. It is a great privilege to associate with individuals of such high calibre as the men and women seated in this House.

It is true that in our discussions we have said some things to one another. It is true that we have had some heated exchanges. The House leader of the official opposition referred to that earlier. It is true that we have had some good discussions—some very good ones for us and less so for them. In the end, we have lent our voices to democracy. As long as the citizens who elect us view us as individuals capable of expressing their views, the way they would if they had the opportunity to find themselves here, and to give their opinions, as long as we do this, we will be good parliamentarians and we will continue to maintain the image of what a true representative of the people should be.

I would like to thank my family and my staff, who have supported me throughout my lengthy career. In particular, I would like to thank Sylvie and Fabienne, my two assistants, who have been at my side for almost 14 years and who were always up to the task.

We would not be members of this Parliament without our organizers, our workers, those who look after us, and those who generously support us in defending our ideas during election campaigns.

At this point, I have a less agreeable message for my adversaries. I know that some are happy that I am leaving and are saying, “After this election, he has decided to leave. Perhaps now we can win the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean”. Well, I have some bad news for you: you will not win the riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. I am sorry to have to say that. I know that members of each political party will work to get out the message in the next election campaign. I know that the Bloc Québécois will try. Unfortunately for my adversaries, I do not believe that my leaving will change anything. Having said that, the citizens will decide and we shall see what their verdict is.

Naturally, I wish to thank the voters for being so patient with me. Today, I have a great deal of affection for the people in my riding, where my children and grandchildren still live. This region needed representation and still needs the support of the various levels of government. There are many economic problems. The difficulties resulting from the softwood lumber crisis predominate. Farmers are experiencing many difficulties and the unemployed, who are excluded from the employment insurance program, face many difficulties. However, I know that there will always be individuals in this House who are attuned to these difficulties and who know that we are all duty bound to find solutions for our less fortunate fellow citizens.

The last thing I would like to say to all of you is that I wish you much happiness and all the best in the future. I hope that you make the best possible decisions for your electors and that what happens in future turns out for the best for each and every one of you. I have truly liked all of you and I am leaving with the lasting memory of all the colleagues I have been fortunate to associate with from all political parties. I wish to thank you very much, it has been a pleasure.

Business of Supply May 8th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the easiest approach to the gas issue is to do what previous governments did and what the present government is doing, which is nothing. It is simple. There is competition in the gas sector. Six big companies are constantly getting richer, and the prices rise at the same time, at the same intersection, in the same way, quite by chance. In Montreal, there are four companies at the same intersection. It is curious. Between 10 o’clock and 10:15, the prices all go up at the same time by the same amount. And they tell us there is competition. When certain products are on special at Provigo, they are not necessarily on special at Métro, because there is real competition. At a given time, the price of other items falls. That is how it works.

The gas companies tell us —and this is what my question will be about— that if the price of gas goes up, it is because things are not going well in the world. It is strange that things never go well around the Saint-Jean-Baptiste holiday, just before Christmas holidays and just before the start of summer vacation, the construction holidays.

If there is no need for closer monitoring of the gas companies in terms of competition, how does he explain that when the world price of crude increases and the price of a litre of gas should go up by 2¢, 3¢ or 4¢, it goes up by 20¢, 25¢ or 30¢? Why do events in the Middle East influence the profit margins of Shell, Exxon, Imperial, etc., here in Canada? The fact is that the world price of crude is only a pretext. We need a monitoring agency. I ask the member why he does not see the need for one.

Afghanistan March 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, perhaps we could enter into an agreement with the Prime Minister.

Rather than wanting to choose the Quebec premier—which is none of his business—should the Prime Minister not choose another Minister of National Defence, because that is his job, his responsibility?

Afghanistan March 22nd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Prime Minister made another blunder. In response to a question from the Leader of the Opposition, he criticized the opposition leader for being concerned about the safety of Taliban prisoners and suggested that he should be more concerned about the safety of Canadian soldiers, as though the two were mutually exclusive.

Instead of adopting a George Bush attitude and suggesting that those who do not agree with him are his enemies—that is how the Prime Minister is behaving—should he not be showing his disagreement with the one person really responsible for the government's problems, namely, the Minister of National Defence?

Points of Order March 21st, 2007

hMr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments. However, I would like to point something out. We can do whatever we want on an opposition day, a supply day. We can abolish programs, create others and make recommendations to the government. We can even bring a government down. We can do anything during an opposition day. The opposition party can choose the subject and the content of the debate it proposes.

Mr. Speaker, in 1994, you were the House leader of the New Democrat Party when the hon. Herb Gray, who was the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, decided to amend the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. He did not modify the need for unanimous consent. He modified a whole series of sections to change the legislative process, short-circuit some stages, make some things simpler and others more complex. In short, using its majority in the House, the government proposed some amendments to the rules of the House of Commons. This rule could have been changed at the same time, but it was not.

At that time, Minister Herb Gray proposed a series of about ten amendments to the Standing Orders. Later, with the support of the Conservatives, who were in opposition while the Liberals were in power, we proposed changes to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. We voted on these changes and they came into effect.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you a question. Why is it possible for the government to use its majority and propose any necessary or imagined amendments to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons but it is not possible for a member of the opposition to initiate the same process?

To rule in favour of the government's arguments would mean establishing here, today, that there are two kinds of members in this House: those who can amend the Standing Orders by a simple request of their political party and those who cannot amend the Standing Orders by a simple request of their political party.

Why can the government, with the majority of the House, amend the Standing Orders as it pleases, whereas the opposition, with the majority of the House, cannot amend the Standing Orders as it wishes? I am one of those who claims that there is only one type of member in this House. All members are equal and have access to the same procedures. One of these procedures was used by the hon. Herb Gray and by many other House leaders prior to today. It may also be used by the House leader of the official opposition.

Points of Order March 21st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the point of order, page 724 of Marleau and Montpetit reads as follows:

The Standing Orders give Members a very wide scope in proposing opposition motions on Supply days and, unless the motion is clearly and undoubtedly irregular (e.g., where the procedural aspect is not open to reasonable argument), the Chair does not intervene.

Therefore, for all opposition motions, unless there is a clear irregularity, the Chair does not intervene. However, there have been precedents, and I would like to review them. On November 5, 2002, a motion adopted on an opposition day amended the Standing Orders of the House of Commons with respect to the election of committee chairs and vice-chairs. A motion presented on a supply day amended the Standing Orders of the House with respect to the election of chairs and vice-chairs.

On April 18, 2005, the current Chief Government Whip gave notice in the order paper of a motion to set opposition days for the rest of the supply period ending June 23, 2005. It turned out that this motion was never debated because the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons decided at the last minute to withdraw opposition days.

My argument is this: as per the November 2002 precedent, which amended the Standing Orders, it is possible during an opposition day to amend the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. Furthermore, when they were in opposition, the Conservatives thought—and I agree—that it was possible to introduce a motion on an opposition day to change the Standing Orders of the House, as evidenced by the April 18 notice of motion by the Conservatives themselves.

It is therefore possible to amend the Standing Orders, and it is also possible to change the Standing Orders by means of a motion introduced during a supply day. The motion before us today proposes a change to the Standing Orders of the House in order to accelerate consideration of certain bills. In light of the precedents, I see nothing unusual about the official opposition's proposal.

The issue here is not whether or not the Bloc Québécois will support the motion of the official opposition. The issue here is the latitude that the opposition parties have to present motions on supply days. I am among those who will always defend the extraordinary freedoms and privileges the opposition parties have in the House of Commons, which enable them to bring any subject before the House that they think is important, interesting or that needs to be debated. Under no circumstances do we object to the government's power to bring up any subject they would like to debate here in the House. But the counterpart to this great power are the 22 little supply days, 22 opportunities during a session here in the House, when the opposition decides on the debate.

The precedents are very clear, and unless there is something very wrong with the motion, unless it is absolutely out of order, it must be agreed to.

We can amend the Standing Orders and we can depart from them. The motion we are discussing today proposes to depart from the Standing Orders, but there is absolutely no reason to doubt that it is in order.

I think it is perfectly in order. Ruling it out of order would strike a great blow to the privileges of the opposition in this House.

The Budget March 20th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I would like to believe the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister and the government as a whole, but while people in this House were in lock-up, and knew nothing about the nature of the budget and could therefore not talk to anyone about it, Jean Charest was posting placards and using graphs with federal budget figures one hour before the minister started reading his speech.

I would like to know why the Prime Minister allowed such a leak of information if not to benefit his friend Jean Charest.

The Budget March 20th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, tabling a federal budget at the very end of an election campaign is already a touchy matter, to say the least, but if information was leaked to one of the leaders of the parties in the race, then we should be talking about unacceptable interference.

How can the Prime Minister justify giving information in advance to Jean Charest when he is in the middle of an election campaign?

Afghanistan March 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence told us in this House that everything was going very well and that was not true. He told us that there was an agreement with the Red Cross, and that is not the case. He told us that he knew the location of the prisoners, and that is false.

Does the minister realize that, if he were still in the army, he could be court-martialled for such behaviour?

Afghanistan March 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the opposition has been worried ever since we had the debate on Afghanistan. The opposition parties expressed their concerns regarding the treatment of Afghan prisoners.

How can the Minister of National Defence rise in the House today and not resign when, in fact, he misled us at least ten times, and not just once, with regard to our concerns?