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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Bloc MP for Saint-Lambert (Québec)

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

Statements in the House

Goods and Services Tax November 22nd, 2004

In September 1996, the finance minister who is now the Prime Minister replied to those who were asking for the elimination of GST on books:

That not taxing books would cost $140 million; he asked those who advocated such a measure to explain where the money would come from.

Is the Prime Minister prepared to admit that the $8.9 billion surplus this year could be the answer to his question? If so, and if he really wants to eliminate GST on books, why does he not go ahead and do it?

Cultural Diversity November 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as regards the two main issues of this convention, could the minister confirm, first, that the government will ensure that the UNESCO convention is not subordinated to the WTO agreements and, second, that it includes a dispute settlement mechanism to avoid having trade tribunals determine what is an acceptable cultural policy?

Cultural Diversity November 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, even though today is mid-November, according to the odd calendar of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, we still do not know the government's position on the draft convention on cultural diversity that is currently being negotiated at UNESCO.

Will the minister present this position today, in the House? If not, will she tell us how many more days mid-November will last before she does?

Cultural Diversity November 17th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, members of UNESCO had until November 15 to state their position on the cultural diversity convention. We can assume that by now, UNESCO knows Canada's position.

Can the Minister of Heritage explain why the House of Commons was not informed before she submitted Canada's position, which, as we know, engages Quebec's cultural interests?

Supply November 16th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I would now like to speak of the surpluses the Minister of Finance announced. Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Canada Council for the Arts have all seen their funds cut back. Funds have been taken from public corporations that contribute directly to the work of many artists and creators.

These cutbacks will affect the quality of the professional lives of the people who contribute to the improvement of the overall quality of life of Quebec and Canadian societies.

Concurrent to this reallocation exercise, the Minister of Finance announces once again unexpected surpluses adding up to about $8 billion.

Such an attack on a vital segment of the population, on its collective identity, is a disgrace, especially considering the very real financial pressures they are faced with. Meanwhile, the government is counting its billions. The most basic sense of decency would require the government to review its supplementary estimates in the light of its new breathing space. However, it does not want the cultural community to get its hopes up too much. The government has very clearly identified its priorities. The cultural sector is not one of them.

What does the minister have to say about that?

Supply November 16th, 2004

Mr. Chairman, in an article published in the daily Le Devoir on August 21, Stéphane Baillargeon quoted the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who said regarding a Canadian cultural policy “I am thinking about it and I am consulting ...”

We would like to know whom she consulted.

Supply November 16th, 2004

Mr. Chair, I will not be sharing my time for this first turn. I will have just one intervention.

In this debate, we are trying to avoid getting stuck in the one-track approach of economism, which is the root of all evil and a source of anxiety, instability, insecurity and multiple cultural exclusions. When governments stop supporting culture, when culture in Quebec and Canada is completely dominated by the new Liberal dogmas of utilitarianism and adjustment, that will be the end.

Then, nothing will prevent the people from rushing into fast-food restaurants and Hollywood dominated cinema complexes, from overindulging in American culture, and dropping whatever critical thinking they have left, and no longer contributing in their own way to the preservation of their own cultural identity. We should never lose sight of the fact that we live in a situation that could increasingly be considered the stage of some yet unknown form of cultural darwinism.

Today, we no longer have the right to be gullible anymore. History, philosophy and all the social studies tell us that there has always been a natural human tendency to go along with things, to let somebody else make the decisions and chose their future identity for them.

The great strength of neo-liberal ideology lies in the fact that it managed to fully exploit this tendency by obtaining, via television, cinema and consumerism, something which no previous totalitarism has obtained before it, namely the consent of its victims. In the Bloc, we are not the accomplices of our potential executioners and we will not be.

In addition, we will not be party to any questioning of any vision, orientation or measure that would weaken, shake or destroy the field of culture, already exposed to decay. The quality of culture has a price. Therefore, we are opposed to policy on culture being devoid of substance and “McDonaldized”. Culture must make a contribution to the quality of our lives. It must contribute to a strengthening of our specific identities. That's how we view this in the Bloc.

A world without culture is a world where ignorance and self-satisfaction produce only docile, americanized consumers, and not the lucid people and perceptive rebels we need so much.

In spite of the de facto trusteeship of Quebec—not for long, at least I hope so—I encourage the minister to aim high for the quality and quantity of cultural production. The reduction or withdrawal of means in the cultural field, as advocated by some, would only lead to a decrease in the quality and viability in cultural matters.

However, providing culture with better financial means is a priority because, contrary to what is advocated by some people, the focus of culture is not the individual but the elevation of the individual's soul and spirit.

I would like to mention a comment that has been going around for a while. Since last August, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has been talking about a possible Canadian cultural policy, which is an issue that we discussed recently in our debate on Bill C-18.

On October 28, the minister said to Nathalie Petrowski that such a cultural policy was one of her dreams. On November 9, she told the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television that we needed a Canadian cultural policy.

Clause 9 of Bill C-18 refers to the policy with respect to culture and says what it will be. What is this cultural policy the Minister of Canadian Heritage is talking about?

Are the $8 million dollar cuts at CBC, a reduction, in the last year, of 183 hours in the drama series on the French television, the translation of Canadian animation programs produced outside of Quebec and the direct cuts in the funding to creators, all elements of the cultural policy that the Minister of Canadian Heritage is contemplating?

Telefilm Canada Act November 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, the world we live in is hypermediatized, globalized, dominated by market logic; it is a world exposed to cultural darwinism, a world where film and other audiovisual media appear to be extremely powerful and popular means of communication.

For years, in keeping with the approach of intruding into others' realms of responsibility, Telefilm Canada has imposed itself upon Quebec as a federal cultural body mandated with the development and promotion of the film and television industries.

Bills C-18, on which there is a motion for reference to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, is intended to integrate into the mandate of Telefilm Canada the entire audiovisual industry, that is film, television and the new media. Among other things, it also provides thecorporation with the authority to act in the sound recording industry underagreements made with the Department of Canadian Heritage.

In fact, all Bill C-18 does is to update and render official the increased responsibilities Telefilm Canada already has. The current legislation is not, in fact, reflective of the actual mandate of Telefilm Canada and needs to be updated. So Bill C-18 makes official the new Telefilm mission that has in fact been in place for years.

In its 1997-98 annual report Telefilm Canada presented its mission, including in it development and promotion of the Canadian film and television industry and new media products. In its March 2002 survey on client satisfaction and needs, 21% of respondents reported that they worked in the new media sector among others.

The main purpose of this bill being to act with respect to the audiovisual industry, that is mainly film, television and new media, and to provide thecorporation with the authority to act in the sound recording industry underagreements made with the Department of Canadian Heritage, that objective does not present any problem for the Bloc Québécois.

We must remind hon. members, however, that essentially the bill replaces the expressions “pecuniary interest in film activity” and “feature film production” with “any pecuniary interest in the audiovisual industry”. Let us also recall that it provides Telefilm with the authority to act in the sound recording industry underagreements made with the Department of Canadian Heritage, and provides it with the powers of a natural person. As well, everything done before thecoming into force of this enactment is deemed to be valid to the same extent asit would have been were it done after this enactment comes into force. It also adds a dubious point at 10(9), reading as follows:

The corporation shall, to the greatest possible extent consistent with the performance of its duties under this Act,

(a) carry out its mandate in the broader context of the policies of the Government of Canada with respect to culture;—

The Bloc Québécois is wondering about the addition to subsection 10(9) of a paragraph referring to federal policies with respect to culture.

At present, no such policy exists formally, although the Minister of Canadian Heritage stated, on August 21, that she was considering it and would be consulting on the matter. The Bloc Québécois would like to know what this reference to cultural policies is all about.

As far as the Bloc Québécois is concerned, there is a Quebecois culture, which is one of the essential elements of Quebec's difference. It is recognized both in Quebec and abroad for its vitality and originality. Quebecers are fond of cultural productions made in Quebec, be it on radio or television, in film, theatre or dance, and very open to foreign cultural productions.

The federal government, however, refuses to recognize the unique reality of the Québécois culture. As far as it is concerned, it is nothing more than a regional component of Canadian culture. In addition, the cultural policies of the federal government often have the utilitarian purpose of promoting Canadian identity, pride and unity.

That is why, for former heritage minister Hélène Sherrer, the federal government's focus was no longer on cultural events or activities, but rather on using any and all cultural, multicultural or culturally diverse activities to make every citizen feel like they were fully Canadian. It is in that sense that there will be investments into culture, she said.

The Bloc Québécois' position on government support to culture is that it should be free of any political objective. It should allow those in the cultural sector to express themselves on any issue concerning humanity, rather than fund productions that simply glorify whatever is Canadian.

The Bloc Québécois will continue working for the defence and promotion of the Québécois culture, supporting Quebec's artists and craftsmen and working toward the recognition of the principle of Quebec's cultural diversity, both nationally and internationally.

Furthermore, the Bloc Québécois will continue to expose any attempt by the federal government to use cultural programs for political purposes and to recognize Quebec as the sole authority in the area of arts and culture within its territory.

Stakeholders from cultural and film organizations—Association des producteurs de films et de télévision du Québec, Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec, Mouvement pour les Arts et les Lettres, and the Union des artistes—that we have contacted see nothing wrong with Bill C-18. However, they are worried about the possible 5% budget cuts by the federal government in its departments and agencies, including Canadian Heritage, Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board.

In a press release on November 3, 2004, the APFTQ said:

—in a context where federal budgets for the film and television sector have not increased in a few years, and inflation has never been taken into account, such a cut would further reduce our ability to produce and to create jobs and would make artists, artisans and production companies even more vulnerable.

The public here benefits daily from access to national productions that are broadcast on the small and big screens. Canada can be proud of the international presence of its artists and television and film productions. Renewal of the government's support remains indispensable to continued success.

On November 4, 2004, Michel Coudé-Lord of the Journal de Montréal described these budget cuts to culture as another crisis for the Minister of Canadian Heritage and said in conclusion:

It remains to be seen whether the former Radio-Canada host turned Minister of Canadian Heritage will remember the demands of television and grasp the importance of the message. This is certainly a story to follow.

At the Bloc Québécois, we know that artists often have a very modest income. According to the department of culture and communications in Quebec, in 2001, three artist groups, artisans—$18,751—dancers—$20,215—and visual artists—$27,741—earned far less than the average taxpayer in Quebec.

Given the fact that the bill does not get into defining a possible federal policy on culture or issues related to funding for Telefilm Canada, and is limited to adjusting the mandate of the crown corporation in order to bring it in line with its current mission, the Bloc Québécois feels it must support Bill C-18.

That said, I want to remind hon. members that Quebec, through the Bloc Québécois, will insist in its demand for control over matters of communication, culture and telecommunication.

Cultural Diversity November 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, over the past two years, close to $1.5 million was taken from the francophone envelope of the Canadian television fund and spent on animation series that did not use francophone writers or actors.

Will the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who just promoted cultural diversity, ensure that this diversion of funds is stopped internally and that the money earmarked for French language production is given back?

Cultural Diversity November 15th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, UNESCO member countries had until today to state their position concerning a draft convention on cultural diversity. However, the federal government has not yet made public its decision on this project.

Since the deadline is today, has the Canadian government stated its position to UNESCO and, if so, what is that position?