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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

Budget Implementation Act, 2007 April 23rd, 2007

Far from it.

World Book and Copyright Day April 23rd, 2007

Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating the 12th annual World Book and Copyright Day. This day is rightfully among our priorities, but is not among those of this government, which considers the fate of our authors and their survival to be least of its concerns.

Our authors are key players in the survival of our respective cultural identities, architects of our “collective and individual selves”. Through their creative talent, they allow us to transcend ourselves, to structure ourselves and to build ourselves. They help us to think for ourselves and to understand the world in order that we may make a positive contribution to its transformation.

The Bloc Québécois invites everyone to salute the genius of our authors by taking the time to read and it reiterates its commitment to work tirelessly to defend the rights of our creative talent. It is a matter of principle.

Slave Trade Abolition March 26th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for giving me an opportunity today in this House to draw attention on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire.

Prior to March 25, 1807, the black slave trade made it possible for the British Empire's industry, merchant fleet and English ports to flourish. Beginning in the 16th century, all of Europe took part in the transatlantic slave trade to the enormous profit of a few. An estimated 250 million Africans died or were deported to the Americas during four centuries of the slave trade.

Why?

Because the cotton industry became such a major source of revenue for the southern states of the United States.

Because European immigrants went to America so they could own their own land and were therefore reluctant to work for others. There was also a shortage of labour because there was so much land.

Because people wanted to maximize their land ownership and their profits. They needed a vast supply of labour. Slaves were cheap labour that made it possible to get the work done at low cost while maximizing profits.

Because an oligarchy realized that it could get very rich very easily by exploiting a black slave population.

Because black slaves from tropical West Africa were considered efficient labour because they were used to working in the heat and were immune to certain tropical diseases.

Slaves were cheaper for landowners. Slaves were cheaper, just like workers in developing countries today in various globalized economic sectors.

On March 25, 1807, by a vote of the Commons, Great Britain—which, of the European powers, was considered to be the most active in the slave trade—officially ended this unspeakable practice that reduced black men to beasts of burden and left scars that can still be felt in Africa today.

I have walked along the beaches of the Gold Coast, the West African coast, many times. I have felt a deep connection to the narratives stored in the collective African memory. I have felt the despair of a woman who drowned her little boy because she could not bear the idea of seeing him become a slave one day.

Many times I have pictured these slave ships leaving the west coast of Africa with a cargo of slaves headed for the Americas. I have felt the atrocities during the months of crossing, a gloomy eternity, horror-filled centuries of these countless European ships engaged in the slave trade. I have had a glimpse of all the horrors, humiliation, desperation and heroism experienced by the captives of these ships and I have been plunged into the depths of despair.

When the long lasting horror of the slave trade came to an end, countless shattered men and women had to learn how to live again, step by painful step.

Today we must honour the memory of the victims of the slave trade, acknowledge the fight of the abolitionists, slaves, former slaves, statesmen and ordinary citizens, and give credit to those who enacted abolition.

I want to focus on the memory of William Wilberforce, from England, and on the memory of Victor Schoelcher, from France. Let us not stop addressing the poverty and inequality that still exist in Africa and the West Indies.

Let us not stop fighting the inequality, discrimination and racism that persist today and that affect, in particular, populations originally from Africa and the Caribbean that are now established here in Canada. Let us fight unrelentingly against modern day slavery in all its forms.

Culture March 21st, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would like to point out that while the Conservative government continues to be mistaken about the role of culture in our daily lives, while it refuses to provide adequate funding to the Canada Council for the Arts, while it stifles the vitality of Quebec and Canadian museums, while it hinders the development of the Quebec film industry, the cultural world is sounding the alarm.

The UNESCO convention on cultural diversity came into force this past Sunday. The day after this historic date, the cultural world expected a significant gesture from the Conservatives in their budget speech. They thumbed their noses and showed their true colours.

A great deal of hard work went into this historic convention. It deserves the respect and support of the Government of Canada. Enough with the misleading arguments. The people in this place and in Quebec have their eyes open and are watching the government. They are waiting and so are we.

Canadian Television Fund February 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, cable distributor Shaw has suspended its contributions to the Canadian Television Fund. Shaw is demanding guarantees that changes will be made to the fund before it resumes making payments.

Will the Minister of Canadian Heritage remind Shaw that no guarantees can be offered as long as it refuses to meet one of the conditions of its licence, which is to pay its dues to the Canadian Television Fund?

Jutra Awards February 19th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, cinema, with its many forms of expression, represents a fundamental affirmation of Quebec's cultural identity. It allows us to organize ourselves and develop as a people. It is the essential aspect of our feeling of belonging to a shared homeland.

An event last night served as a wonderful reminder of this, as members of the Quebec film family came together to underscore the excellence of its work, for the Jutra tribute awards. The Bloc Québécois would like to heartily commend the creative genius of those artists and artisans who were honoured at the gala.

The gala was also the perfect opportunity for a few articulate individuals to denounce the inaction of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, which has been a major obstacle to the development of Quebec cinema.

However, Pierre Curzi made an especially relevant comment and I would like to repeat his message here today. He said that, for a society to fulfill itself, it must be a reflection of the nation, a reflection of Quebec—proud, free and sovereign.

Canadian Television Fund February 12th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the minister must intervene. She must assume her responsibilities and ensure that the conditions of Shaw and Vidéotron's licences are respected. No matter what she says, she can do this, she does have that power.

Also, until this dispute is resolved, I ask the minister why the government refuses to make an interest-free loan to the Canadian Television Fund for the sums unpaid by Shaw and Vidéotron, and then take measures to ensure that the licence conditions are respected? That is a simple solution and one that the minister can implement.

Canadian Television Fund February 12th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, the decision made by Shaw and Vidéotron to suspend their contributions to the Canadian Television Fund based on the current formula is creating a major problem for the television industry, and the production of many programs is being compromised.

Does the Minister of Canadian Heritage not realize that Shaw and Vidéotron's refusal to contribute to the Canadian Television Fund is seriously jeopardizing television production in Quebec and that it is her duty to intervene?

Broadcasting and Telecommunications February 8th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, is the minister aware that she is sending a very bad signal to the cable distribution companies that contribute to the fund by agreeing to discuss future scenarios with the offending companies, which, in the end, undermines the Canadian Television Fund.

What is she waiting for to remind Shaw and Vidéotron of their responsibilities? They should pay first and discuss later. It is that simple.

Broadcasting and Telecommunications February 8th, 2007

Mr. Speaker, we are going to persist with these questions. The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women is washing her hands of the fate of television production as a result of the decision by Shaw and Vidéotron to suspend their contributions to the Canadian Television Fund. Worse still, she is now throwing the blame onto the CRTC.

How can the minister explain that one week she acts as a messenger for the offending companies, and the next week she says that the matter has nothing to do with her because it is strictly the responsibility of the CRTC?