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

Quebec Elections February 27th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I realize they are ashamed of what Jean Charest said and that they have no desire to set the record straight. Nevertheless, they may soon get up on that same soapbox to defend the same cause. It is therefore important to be clear on this starting now. As Jean Charest said yesterday, we must be clear about this; we must state the facts.

I would ask the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to rein in their friend Jean Charest and remind him that if there is a referendum, federal transfer payments to Quebec will no more be suspended than they were in 1980 or 1995.

Quebec Elections February 27th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that Jean Charest is engaging the Prime Minister of Canada. Yesterday, he said that the things the federal government put in the budget with respect to equalization would disappear the day the Parti Québécois holds a referendum.

Does the Prime Minister not have the duty today to counter his friend Jean Charest's outrageous statements by reminding him that the federal government intends to do exactly what the two preceding federal governments did?

Points of Order February 27th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated yesterday, I have more information to add to the arguments that I presented on Bill C-257 and the admissibility of the amendments that affect this bill.

During the meeting of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday, February 15, the chair ruled on the admissibility of two amendments, and despite contrary opinions from the witnesses and the committee clerk, he nonetheless ruled the proposed amendment inadmissible because it was beyond the scope of the bill.

The purpose of the amendments is essentially to include in the anti-scab legislation the concept of essential services for the maintenance of activities in labour disputes in clauses 2.3 and 2.4 of the bill to amend section 94 of the Canada Labour Code.

The committee chair's ruling was overturned since three of the opposition parties, forming the majority in committee, felt that this concept was not beyond the scope of the bill.

Yesterday, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons brought this up again in a point of order and went a step further in his argument than the chair of the committee did. He said that the three amendments proposed in committee were inadmissible.

Our current situation is rather unusual. Precedents concerning the admissibility of amendments proposed in committee are rare in this House. However, we note that, in 1992, Mr. Speaker Fraser faced a similar situation. The context was this: during a committee review of Bill C-54 concerning farm products marketing agencies, the committee chair ruled that three amendments were inadmissible, because two of them sought to amend the incorporating act, and the third amendment went beyond the scope of the bill. As in the current situation, the committee chair's ruling was reversed. Regarding the constraints imposed on the amendment process in committee, Mr. Speaker Fraser said:

It cannot infringe on the financial initiative of the Crown, it cannot go beyond the scope of the bill as passed at second reading, and it cannot reach back to the parent act to make further amendments not contemplated in the bill no matter how tempting this may be.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker Fraser gave a clear example:

In some cases, this last cardinal rule is graphically clear. For instance, if a committee is examining a Criminal Code bill dealing with lotteries, a member cannot reach back to the parent act to propose amendments to those sections dealing with firearms. In certain other cases, this principle is more difficult to explain.

Based on this ruling by Mr. Speaker Fraser, it is quite simple to demonstrate to the House that the amendments proposed to Bill C-257 concerning the provision of essential services in the event of a labour dispute do not go beyond the scope of Bill C-257.

Moreover, during this session, you yourself ruled on the admissibility of committee amendments to Bill C-14. These amendments sought to include an appeal process in the Citizenship Act (adoption). At that time, you reversed the decision of the committee chair. Your ruling was completely justified, because including an appeal process in a bill designed to allow for a grant of citizenship to foreign adopted children without first requiring that they be permanent residents was quite logical and, as in the case before us today, did not go beyond the scope of the bill. I want to quote your decision, which was very wise:

Having reviewed the bill as reported to the House, I cannot conclude that an amendment which provides for an appeal of a decision by the minister is contrary to the principle of the bill. As I see it, such an amendment places a condition on how decisions of the minister are exercised, but the principle of the bill remains intact. In the view of the Chair then, the amendment is admissible in that respect.

The purpose of Bill C-257 is to prohibit employers under the Canada Labour Code from hiring replacement workers to perform the duties of employees who are on strike or locked out.

The bill also provides for the imposition of a fine for an offence. In this particular case and in the original version of clause 2.3, which set out some exceptions for protection of property, specifically in cases of labour disputes, I do not see how stipulating situations where the new conditions should be relaxed could be considered going beyond the scope of the bill. These are additional clarifications, exactly as you ruled in the case I mentioned previously.

The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons initially said that we could not amend Bill C-257 by making reference to section 87.4, claiming that this section was not in the original bill. This is not true. In the original bill, we referred to section 87.4 in clause 2.1. I suggest that he reread the original bill. The argument by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons therefore simply does not hold up, because it is based on a falsehood.

In fact, this first amendment clarifies how section 87.4 is affected. Since the initial bill mentions subsection 94(2.1) and section 87.4 of the Code, this amendment merely clarifies how these two provisions relate to one another. It is very easy to understand.

Let us now move on to the clauses that posed problems in committee.

Bill C-257 amends certain sections of the Canada Labour Code, including section 87.6, subsection 94(2) and section 100. A reference to section 87.4 also appears in clause 2.1, as I was saying earlier.

Bill C-257 amends subsection 94(2.1) of the Canada Labour Code to include additional prohibitions against employers using replacement workers during labour disputes.

By adding a reference to section 87.4 of the Code—the section that covers the maintenance of activities during a strike or lockout—we are specifying that maintaining certain activities is sometimes essential to public health and safety, even during serious labour conflicts.

Section 87.4 of the Canada Labour Code is known as the essential services section. Integrating this concept illustrates that we recognize the risks a labour conflict may entail.

In fact, as I was saying yesterday, the amendments introduced in committee do not go beyond the scope of the bill. On the contrary, they reduce its impact and have the same effect on the replacement workers bill as the board of referees has on the Immigration Act, a situation you considered acceptable.

This provides further clarification. To say that it is impossible to introduce amendments that limit the application of a bill, that define and clarify it, would be to say that all committee work is totally useless because it cannot change the application of any bill being studied anyway.

The main argument is, I repeat: how can anyone claim that these amendments go beyond the scope of a bill when the purpose of these amendments is, in fact, to limit its scope? These amendments fall within the framework of the bill; they do not allow the boundaries of the bill to be overstepped. All these amendments do is limit the application of this law.

In my opinion, given these additional arguments and the wisdom you showed in the decision I quoted earlier, Bill C-14, if you apply the same principles and the same logic, which is always unshakeable in your case, Mr. Speaker, you will find you must tell the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to redo his homework.

Points of Order February 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow I will address more technical issues more specifically with reference to the arguments presented by the Leader of the Government in the House.

In the meantime, it is clear that the arguments put forward by the members opposite may serve them politically, but they do not hold water.

Points of Order February 26th, 2007

Essential services must be maintained, contrary to the concerns the Minister of Labour raised several times in this House. That is the essence of what I have to say today.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, given that my honourable colleague talked about a number of sections that I obviously do not have right here in front of me, I would like to review his valuable arguments. I know that you always seek to make enlightened decisions based on the facts and on the law, so I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you give me the opportunity to speak tomorrow if you would. I am sure you will allow it because you appreciate help in making your decisions.

Points of Order February 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons would like the amendments tabled by our Liberal colleague to be considered out of order and unacceptable because he believes that they are beyond the scope of the bill.

Although I have a great deal of respect for my honourable colleague, I will show that these amendments do the exact opposite. This is a law that prohibits the use of replacement workers during a labour dispute. That is the general framework for the legislation. The proposed amendments more or less state the following: with this legislation prohibiting the use of replacement workers during a strike, we must refrain from applying the law in the case of essential activities.

I do not understand how we can say that a point such as this, which excludes certain applications of the law in certain circumstances, is beyond the scope of the bill. The amendments limit the application of the bill in certain cases, that is, when essential services must be maintained. The hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons says that essential services do not exist in Canada; they are not mentioned in the Canada Labour Code.

Every responsible government on the planet recognizes that some essential services cannot be jeopardized under any circumstances. I have had interesting discussions about this with the Minister of Labour, who once told this House that hiring replacement workers could not be prohibited in the case of some essential services. The Minister of Labour himself said that. I remember that he rose in this House and said that this anti-scab bill could not be adopted because some services had to be maintained. He said that adopting this bill would threaten the economy, security and all sorts of things.

Since we listen to the Minister of Labour, we decided that we would respect his concern and support the amendments that restrict the bill's application. In all my years as a parliamentarian, I have never seen someone claim that an amendment clarifying the scope of a bill and limiting its application would broaden the scope of the bill. The opposite is true. As for the concept of essential services, the Minister of Labour went on at length about them in this House, saying that he could not accept the bill because of essential services. What is more, some federal legislation refers specifically to them.

I hope that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Minister of Labour know that the Public Service Modernization Act is an extremely important act that they must enforce. If they are not aware of that, it is time they learned. Section 4 of the Public Service Modernization Act reads as follows:

“essential service” A service, facility or activity of the Government of Canada that is or will be, at any time, necessary for the safety or security of the public or a segment of the public.

When we are told that this concept does not exist, I have to sound the alarm to wake up the Conservatives: it is in one of the most important pieces of legislation they have to enforce. This concept is also found in section 127 of the Canada Labour Code. It is the very essence of the Minister of Labour's mandate, and he is seated next to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. Both of them are claiming that it does not exist.

This is a new one. A minister is telling us that the very essence of his responsibilities, section 127, does not exist. We are talking about essential public services.

Anyone who is not completely irresponsible is aware of the concept of essential services. I am sure the Government of Canada is aware of it; if not, how discouraging.

The concept of essential services exists. The concept of public services exists. It is defined in two important acts. Another definition is to be added in a third act, the replacement workers act. They are limiting the scope by referring to essential services as defined in the Public Service Modernization Act and the Canada Labour Code. The replacement workers act will address it; it will say that we have to be careful and that there are limits.

Quebec Elections February 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, since the Minister of Finance is responding, I have another question for him. It is important to know what he thinks exactly.

There is a budget coming up on March 19. Does he have two scenarios in mind: in other words, does he have one scenario if the Liberals win in Quebec, and another if everything points to a PQ win in Quebec? Does he have two scenarios, or just one? This will answer the question.

Quebec Elections February 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is being vague. I am simply asking him to tell us, here in this House, whether he can correct the comments made by Jean Charest, who is using blackmail in the middle of an election campaign.

Can the Prime Minister simply confirm to us that as long as Quebeckers are paying taxes to the federal government they will in turn be entitled to payments from Ottawa? We are simply asking him to confirm that.

Judicial Appointments February 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, in the United States, President Bush is nominating very, very conservative judges in order to further entrench his ideology. Here in Canada, the Prime Minister can appoint judges not only to the Supreme Court but also to all federal courts.

Does the Prime Minister not know that Quebeckers do not want the George Bush kind of legal system he is trying to institute? They will not accept it.

Judicial Appointments February 15th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the government needs to understand that in basing the selection of judges on ideological criteria it is throwing itself down a new and extremely slippery slope.

Will the Prime Minister admit that he has decided to attack judges because of his inability to get his right-wing legislative agenda adopted in full? Unable to pass the legislation he wants, he is going to appoint the judges he wants.