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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

Quebeckers November 23rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister doubtless forgets that in a decision handed down not so long ago, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the legitimacy of all the political options, including the legitimacy of the sovereignists advocating and promoting their point of view and finally triumphing democratically.

Will the Prime Minister admit that the concept of a Quebec nation—the Québécois forming a nation—does not depend on any conditions or tricks or strategies but on what we really are? We would like him to recognize that.

Quebeckers November 23rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is entitled to his opinions and that is precisely what we call for in the House. He is entitled to his opinions and we are entitled to ours. One fact remains, however. The Prime Minister said so, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities said so, and the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec said so, and this fact is that our government recognizes that Quebeckers form a nation.

Why not just say so clearly, without any tricks? It is a fact, it is reality, one recognizes it and says so unambiguously.

Business of Supply November 23rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, things have moved quickly in this House, but I would have liked an opportunity for debate with the hon. member.

I have the feeling that adding the concept of “united Canada,” as the leader of the Bloc agreed to, could have settled it. Still, since you say there was no consent, I will return to the essence of the member’s remarks.

I am astonished by something I have just heard. The hon. member said that when her party formed the government, it submitted the question of a distinct society here, in this House, and voted on it. She was proud of that. Yet, in the same breath, she condemned the Bloc Québécois motion asking that the question of nationhood be submitted to the attention of this House.

First, I am having trouble understanding something. Why is it that, when the Liberal Party submits the question of a distinct society, it does not cause division, but when the Bloc talks about a nation, that causes division and is wrong?

Second, she says that the Bloc Québécois is divisive and is not entitled to bring such a matter before Parliament. I find that very intolerant.

And yet, a colleague in her own party, the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, raised this issue publicly during the leadership race, and the issue has been widely debated within the Liberal Party. But today, we must listen forlornly to someone saying that we are not entitled to submit this question.

If I understand the member correctly, it is appropriate for the Liberal Party to ask Parliament whether it wants to vote for a distinct society or not. However, the Bloc is not entitled to ask for a vote on recognition or non-recognition of a nation. It is fine for the Liberal Party to talk about a nation; but it is despicable when the Bloc Québécois raises the issue. I am having trouble following the logic.

Business of Supply November 23rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, when I hear the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities talk about his government’s respect for areas of jurisdiction, what comes immediately to mind is that in Nairobi a week ago, when an area of shared jurisdiction, the environment, was under discussion, Canada’s Environment Minister had six days to ramble on but denied Quebec 45 seconds. I can tell the minister, this kind of sharing she can keep.

What I would like to ask is this: how can the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities say right off the bat that this Bloc resolution is just about the most appalling thing he has ever seen during his time in Parliament, and in the same paragraph mention Brian Mulroney, whose efforts to get recognition for the Quebec nation and a context in which the people of Quebec would be respected and given consideration within the Canadian Confederation took several years of work in this Parliament? So it is hard to see the subject as one that it is absolutely astonishing to see raised in this House, given that the previous Conservatives devoted many debates to it.

But the minister had this to say, and I clearly heard it. I am quoting from memory, but I am pretty sure this is what he said. “I personally have no problem accepting the fact that the House recognizes that Quebeckers form a nation.”

Given that, I want to ask him a tiny question, and we will see how serious he was. Should we then assume that he will vote in favour of the motion? My second question is the following. He told us that he feels that the motion presented yesterday by the Prime Minister saying “within a united Canada” reflects reality. The motion that was amended today says this:

That this House recognize that Quebeckers form a nation currently within Canada.

Does he feel that this motion represents the reality today and that we, the Québécois, form a nation and that we are currently within Canada? Then I say to the minister, given these circumstances, he should support our motion, and I ask him to say so clearly.

Business of Supply November 23rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his comment. Indeed, based on our knowledge of history and the cultural elements that make each of us the person we are, based on realities and clear definitions found in the dictionary, based on a reality that is both historical and geographical and social, quite simply, without any dirty tricks, without trying to change the nature of the debate, without moving it on to another stage—a stage we are not currently at—we should be able to talk, observe and tell Quebeckers that we feel that they form a nation.

We see no objection. It poses no problem for us. We feel that if it were not for a kind of pathological obsession typical of some people in this House and which was illustrated, yesterday, by the Prime Minster, who tried, by a kind of motion, to add to the Bloc’s motion the idea of a political debate on the future of Canada, this could be simple.

Why is it not that simple? Why is it not that clear? Why did the Prime Minister try to change things? Why are we not able, you and I, with the Speaker, in accordance with the Standing Orders, to discuss this question simply and in all fairness to Quebeckers? I think that to ask the question is to answer it. Those who wish to transform this debate in order to take it to another level are, in my opinion, making a serious mistake.

Business of Supply November 23rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, no one is questioning the member’s right to believe what he wants, how he wants, to express his ideas, to debate here in Parliament, to question me, to react, to comment, to make statements or to go back to earlier remarks. No one is stopping him doing that.

Does declaring that Quebeckers form a nation prevent the member from making statements, holding forth, arguing his points of view and defending an option?

It is a matter of fact, and the members of Quebec’s National Assembly, federalists and sovereigntists alike, unanimously admitted that Quebeckers constitute a nation. Is the member telling us that this simple statement prevents him from living, flourishing or expressing his points of view?

On the contrary, the member should rejoice at seeing Canada’s House of Commons follow the lead of Quebec’s National Assembly and recognize a fact that is in any case almost universally recognized, that Quebeckers form a nation. I fail to see how that in any way impinges on his political opinions. On the contrary, we should debate this matter without trying to dismiss one option or insert another, as his leader, the Prime Minster, is trying to do.

The debate on Quebec’s sovereignty or Canada’s unity will take place when Quebeckers decide to put this question back on the table. However, we are not putting a motion before the House today that discusses that.

We are asking the members of this House to tell us simply, frankly, honestly, sincerely, based on their own feelings and cultural background, if, yes or no, Quebeckers form a nation. It is simple to understand and I do not understand why the member feels so uncomfortable about debating the question.

Business of Supply November 23rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the motion before us is clear, simple and straightforward. It says what it says. It says what the members of Quebec's National Assembly, federalists as well as sovereignists, have already said unanimously. It speaks of a fact that no one should contest or think of contesting, and says it so clearly that in my view there is no room for interpretation or ill-conceived amendments involving any kind of conditions.

Quebeckers are rather surprised this morning to see that, in this House, the Conservative government and some members from Quebec did not spontaneously agree to recognize that Quebec and Quebeckers form a nation.

The Prime Minister tried yesterday to introduce his own motion, bringing in partisan political considerations, referring to the federalism option and the sovereignty option, saying that it means inside a united Canada. The government's behaviour in this matter is so astonishing that I would like to take the liberty of explaining something to you.

I am the second-longest-serving House leader in the history of Canada's Parliament. Usually when there is a minister’s statement, the government sends it to the opposition. The reason for this is easy to understand: it enables the opposition parties to react to a statement made in the House. Every time a minister has made a statement in this House, the content has been transmitted in advance, whether several hours, 15 minutes, or even just 10 or 12 minutes in advance. But yesterday, something exceptional happened in this House and I would like to raise it in today’s debate.

For the past 13 years, the government has always given the opposition a copy of statements by the Prime Minister. For probably the first time in history, that copy was a fake, a statement that did not contain the most important element in the Prime Minister’s remarks, about which all the media in Canada are talking today, in other words, his motion.

The Prime Minister has insulted not only the Bloc Québécois and the other parties in this House, but all Quebeckers. The people of Quebec are humiliated. I see that the Minister of Transport, a Quebec member, seems to find it funny that his Prime Minister and his government deceived the entire population of Quebec, by deceiving their representatives with a sneaky little trick.

For the first time in this House, because the matter at issue was Quebec and the Quebec nation, the government sent a truncated and misleading statement that did not contain the essence of what the Prime Minister was going to state in the House. I leave it to Quebeckers to judge this government’s tactics. Not so long ago, we had the “night of the long knives”, when Quebec was betrayed during the constitutional discussions. We have just experienced a black afternoon, an afternoon where the representatives of Quebec and the people of Quebec were deliberately deceived by the Prime Minister of Canada, whom I accuse of having sent us a faked version of his statement.

Nothing can justify the use of techniques like this. As parliamentarians of all shades of political allegiance, we should be able to discuss issues honestly and openly, and to judge motions like ours on their merits. That is how a parliament should function.

We should be entitled to some measure of openness from the government, from members from other parts of Canada and especially from members from Quebec who are part of the government, some interest in discussion, comparing ideas and working objectively together to do justice to the people of Quebec. It appears however that this is not possible.

The Conservative government has behaved in exactly the same way as the previous Liberal government when Jean Chrétien plotted behind Quebec’s back. This is absolutely outrageous. Will someone tell me why we in the House cannot simply say what we think about such a clear motion, “That this House recognize that Quebeckers form a nation”. Why is it so difficult to speak about this motion?

In closing, I would like to amend this motion as follows:

I move, with the consent of the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie and seconded by the member for Pointe-de-l'Île, the following amendment:

That the motion be amended by adding after the word “nation” the following:

“currently within Canada”

With this amendment, the motion would then read as follows:

That this House recognize that Quebeckers form a nation currently within Canada.

Business of Supply November 23rd, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the matter before us today is one of—

The Environment November 20th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, no matter what it says or does, the bottom line is that the federal promise was not worth 45 seconds.

Are we to understand that all the efforts of this government to hide Quebec's plan were made to avoid explaining to the international community why this government, which collects more than half of the taxes paid by Quebeckers, refuses to pay Quebec the $328 million that would enable it to reach all the targets of the Kyoto protocol?

The Environment November 20th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, at the climate change conference in Nairobi, the Government of Quebec asked for 45 seconds to outline its position. The federal government refused this modest request.

My question is as follows: why did it refuse given the Prime Minister's offer, the promise made in the election campaign, to give Quebec a special place on the international scene? Did this place, this promise, not warrant 45 seconds in Nairobi?