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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was finance.

Last in Parliament September 2007, as Bloc MP for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 56% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Criminal Code November 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and NDP friend for this question.

Reverse onus for the proceeds of crime is not the only amendment to the Criminal Code introduced by the Bloc Québécois. There were three others, and they were all major.

One of them, for example, is what led to operation springtime 2001 and its outcome, which targeted criminal biker gangs and made it easier to prove someone's membership in a criminal gang. We followed up with reverse onus. These are real tools, unlike the nonsense being presented here today. And those real tools were the Bloc Québécois' contribution.

Criminal Code November 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, my Liberal colleague is entirely correct. What they are trying to do is simply copy the Americans. In the United States, where such a policy was brought in, here is what happened. The American rate of incarceration is seven times higher. There are three times more homicides in the U.S. than in Canada, and four times more than in Quebec.

Why would we copy such a policy here, when it clearly does not work and accomplishes nothing? Despite my colleague's indignation, I still insist that this measure is completely ridiculous. Its sole purpose is to make the Conservatives look good in the eyes of Canadians and deliver on their promises, which are completely ridiculous.

Criminal Code November 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I would like to resume with a more civilized tone. The Conservatives have a tendency to shout like that and sound off indignantly. They should express their indignation about their own government's failure to act on organized crime. They should stop throwing stones at the Bloc Québécois. I have a good memory. In 13 years, there were three major reforms to the Criminal Code to get the Hells Angels and other such criminal gangs behind bars. Those three major reforms were introduced by the Bloc Québécois. We did everything we could to get those reforms passed. The Conservatives were reluctant to adopt the reforms needed to fight real criminals with real tools.

Getting back to his example, what does Bill C-27 have to offer? From the first serious offence for assault or a heinous sexual crime—which we find just as heinous as my Conservative colleague does—a coroner can ask that the convicted individual be designated a dangerous offender. They want to give such criminals three chances. Where is the logic in this bill?

Criminal Code November 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that you are prepared to hear what I have to say to the end.

When we are faced with a reality such as this, we sit down and pay attention to the crime rate. In some regions of the country it has gone down. Why? In Quebec, emphasis was placed on rehabilitation. There are dangerous offenders, but not many, and before an individual is declared a dangerous offender that person is first considered a long-term offender. This criminal can be supervised for 10 years.

Let us look at the crime rate in Quebec. It speaks for itself. Quebec is the place where there is the least amount of serious crime, but it is also the place where emphasis has been placed on rehabilitation. It is also the place in Canada where people are quite aware of the importance of gun control. This also says a lot. There are predispositions. There is intelligence in an approach.

The Prime Minister and his government have decided to do away with the firearms registry, to remove all controls and now weapons are pouring in from Montana, crossing the Canadian border, which is a real sieve. They are pouring in. Everyone is armed and it is a circus.

This is not how things work. First, we must keep the gun registry. Second, we must improve enforcement along our borders. Let us set up controls at the border, to prevent gun smuggling. One can go anywhere—a bar, a pub, whatever—ask for a handgun and get it very quickly. There is an incredible traffic going on for these weapons. That is the second measure to take, instead of passing cosmetic bills like this one, to make the Conservatives look good, because they want to show that they are the only ones defending justice. My foot!

I just said that these are two important measures, but the Conservatives are totally opposed to them.

Third, how about investing in prevention? We see some very young people—aged 10 to 12 or 13—working with henchmen from criminal organizations. For example, these young people help hand harvest cannabis plantations in Ontario, Quebec or elsewhere, and are paid $20 an hour. They work with organized crime and they learn to make quick money the easy way. Could it be that, as they get older, these young people will continue to deal with the criminal world and become part of it, instead of becoming honest members of our society? The purpose of prevention is to keep them from doing that. It is to ensure that those young people who are at risk can integrate our society and rehabilitate themselves, before they become adults and join the ranks of organized crime.

When do we hear about crime prevention for young people? When do we hear Conservatives talk about rehabilitation? Never.

I will conclude by simply saying that the Conservatives also claim to be great protectors of public funds. Looking at how they manage that money is my pet project. They claim to be great protectors of public funds. However, because of the measures that they want to take, jails will be full of people who, after three offences—regardless of the merits of the case and the good judgment of judges and coroners—will join the inmate population, thus increasing it significantly.

I would like to give you a few figures relating to the cost of rehabilitating a prisoner. In Canada, keeping a person in the prison system costs an average of $88,000. I am not talking about maximum security. Maximum security—incarcerating dangerous offenders—costs $120,000 per year. That is a lot of money.

Do you know how much it costs to supervise an offender? About $26,000 per year. $26,000 compared to $120,000 or $88,000 speaks volumes.

First of all, the Conservatives opted for Criminal Code reforms that provide no new tools for fighting criminals. Second, they did so merely to look good and give people the impression that they are strong supporters of a police state and the victims, even though they are doing nothing to help victims. What they are really doing is creating criminals, promoting recidivism and creating potential victims.

Third, they have not considered prevention and rehabilitation, even though that is what works. Wherever this approach has been used, crime rates have dropped and there have been fewer serious offences. Wherever there is a sense that the people's representatives do not support rehabilitation, we get situations like in Edmonton and Calgary, where the crime rate is sky-high.

Maybe this means something.

Furthermore, these ineffective measures, which are completely useless for protecting potential victims, cost an arm and a leg; they are a huge waste of public funds. As I said, measures like these create fertile ground for recidivism. There are people who go to prison and end up staying there 10, 12, 15 years. Most studies show that when they come out, their risk to re-offend is higher than it would be if they had had access to rehabilitation, as they do in Quebec and other countries. We have to think about this and stop going for the right-wing police approach by claiming to be the only ones fighting for justice. Give me a break.

Criminal Code November 9th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on this bill. I may not be a lawyer, but I have enough brains to read bills. I can tell whether a bill is in tune or not with the reality. My 13 years of experience as a member of Parliament and lawmaker in this place have taught me the difference between good bills and bills that do nothing for society in Quebec or Canada.

Bill C-27 before us does strictly nothing to help fight crime, reduce crime or discourage potential criminals from offending. This is a totally pointless bill which does not meet these objectives.

I listened earlier to the hon. member from the Conservative Party according to whom being against this bill is to be against the victims of crime. What demagoguery.

Bills like this, which do no good, may in fact interfere with the normal court process. Judging by the experience of the Americans in recent years, after they introduced similar legislation, this is the kind of bill that can hamper crime-fighting efforts instead of providing additional tools to fight crime. No study has shown that this three strikes and you are out policy can do any good.

In the United States, where the crime rate is the highest in the world, experience has shown in recent years that having that kind of policy in place does not make the crime rate go down. There are mostly studies that establish a connection between the likelihood of reoffending and the length of incarceration. That is the exact opposite of what we have just heard in relation to this bill.

In addition, this bill ignores a basic legal principle: the presumption of innocence. Even before a criminal commits another offence, he has to prove that he is not a dangerous offender and that he should not be incarcerated indefinitely. The offender has the burden of proof. I do not believe that giving an individual such a responsibility in the justice system is the right approach or that it is in keeping with the principle that every individual should be given a chance. This reverse onus is not in the tradition of British law, except in certain specific cases, such as proceeds of crime.

Recently, through the efforts of the Bloc Québécois, we passed a bill under which, after being convicted, an individual who has taken part in organized crime activities must prove that he acquired all his property legally: the Mercedes, the house, the secondary residence. This type of exception is what we should have, when we look at all the organized crime rings.

Opération printemps 2001 showed us what it cost in legal resources and tax dollars to prove that all the property belonging to the Nomads, Hells Angels and other organized crime rings had been acquired illegally.

When we look at this bill, we can see that it can even undermine the legal process. I was listening to my Conservative colleague earlier. He said that he had received calls from his constituents asking him why we should wait for the third time before declaring someone a dangerous offender and incarcerating that person indefinitely.

I would ask him the same question in reverse.

Why wait for the third offence when today, depending on the seriousness and brutality of a crime, a crown prosecutor can ask that someone be declared a dangerous offender after the first crime?

It is not necessary to wait for the third time. If the first crime is particularly brutal, the crown prosecutor can ask that the individual be declared a dangerous offender. The judge may grant the request and declare the individual a dangerous offender after the first offence.

Why wait for the third offence to be committed when, in the current system, with the flexibility afforded lawyers and judges, we can use intelligence and discernment to determine, right from the first offence, if rehabilitation is possible based on the nature, seriousness and brutality of a crime?

I said earlier that the United States experimented with this type of policy. Their prisons are full. It has been said that the Prime Minister is a carbon copy of George W. Bush. The government wishes to copy the Americans not only in military and economic policies, and support for oil companies, for example, but also in the changes it wants to make to the current justice and correctional systems in place in Canada.

In the United States, prisons are bursting at the seams. The rate of incarceration is sevenfold that in Canada. Yet, even with a policy of “three crimes makes a dangerous offender”, the US homicide rate is triple that in Canada and four times greater than Quebec's rate. That must mean something. When a system does not work, for example in the United States—a country with one of the highest rates of criminalization—we must not copy that system and we should try something else. We must not duplicate the American system. To make themselves look good, the Conservatives have introduced this type of legislation while acting as though they alone can guarantee the safety of individuals, the prosecution of criminals to the bitter end, as though they alone will ensure that justice is served in this country. This is a completely twisted claim with respect to the discourse and the content of the bill.

As lawmakers, we bear enormous responsibility. This responsibility certainly includes the treatment of victims, both the past victims and potential victims of criminals. We need to look after them, but to do so, we need to have the right tools. In the last 10 years, serious crime in Canada has gone down. So they should not come to us with just the 2004-05 data and say that the situation is absolutely frightful and so terrible that something must be done. Certainly it should, but not through measures that are out of touch with reality, like these.

We need real action, but that is not what the Conservatives are offering. It is just the appearance of action. They want to show that they made some political promises that made no sense at all during the last election campaign, including this policy of three crimes equals a dangerous offender. So they introduce this bill. I cannot make head or tail of it. It has no relation to reality and adds nothing. It does not add any tools for fighting serious crime in Canada.

Among the things that should be done—but which they have not done—is the essential tool of firearms control. We just received the most recent data from Statistics Canada. We are not making this up; it is Statistics Canada. It tells us that Quebec and Prince Edward Island have crime rates that are much lower than the rest of Canada. The city with the highest crime rates and most serious crimes is Edmonton. Calgary takes second place. That is significant.

When people come from a region where the crime rate is the highest, could they not be a little bit more intelligent and find some way to deal with crime? Firearms control and the firearms registry are what we need. Yesterday, for example, they were saying on the news that 80% of the crimes in Edmonton were committed with unregistered firearms. Therefore, 20% of the arms were registered. Is that not a sign that controls should be tightened? We need to have a well managed registry.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2 October 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is asking me why. I will tell him that it is because we do not sell our services to the highest bidder. That is why.

When that budget was adopted, we were in the midst of the biggest scandal ever seen in federalism, the sponsorship scandal. We had just learned more about the fact that all federalist parties in this House, namely the Liberals, the Conservatives and the New Democrats, had participated in the plot to steal the 1995 referendum. They closed their eyes on cost overruns and they denied democracy by trampling on all the rules that Quebec had set, so that in the end the Yes and No sides were neck and neck.

Everyone got on the buses—New Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives—to come to Montreal and participate in the love-in. They all participated in that denial of democracy. That is why we would not have made a pact with the devil. If the New Democrats want to do it, fine, but we have stronger convictions, more heart and we know better.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2 October 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member NDP member that they too supported the budget. This is somewhat strange, speaking of marriages.

Speaking of failed marriages and odd couples, I remind the hon. member that a little less than a year and a half ago, the NDP joined the corrupt Liberals. In the midst of the sponsorship scandal, they supported the Liberals and they supported their budgets, which included measures that were never fully implemented after the Conservatives won the last election.

The bill that they supported—I believe it was Bill C-48—was incredibly vague. The Liberal government did not even have to fulfill its promise. The NDP supported the corrupt government of the former Prime Minister on measures that did not include any commitment. They made a big deal about it during the last election campaign. And now, how many of them are here? Talk about credibility.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2 October 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. Before I answer, I would just like to say that there are budget measures we can be proud of, because we in the Bloc Québécois have worked for years to get a government to include them in its budget.

I hope that this time we will be successful The Bloc Québécois, and only the Bloc Québécois, has made 10 attempts. Year after year, we introduced the bill, and year after year, we were beaten by the Liberals, even those from Quebec. The Conservatives did not want anything to do with this measure, but we had the support of the NDP. But I think we are going to win the vote on our anti-scab bill. I hope so, and I pray every night that we will. We have been fighting for this for years. I think that when an initiative comes from the heart, if we do not give up, in the end, we will be rewarded.

My colleague is quite right. Quebec sovereignty would enable us to repatriate all our taxes and all the taxes we pay to this Parliament. The other political parties do not give any consideration to Quebec's real values and real interests or to the Quebec government's game plan for lessening the impact of international competition and resource depletion. All the resources put toward a single nation, the nation of Quebec—it is obvious.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2 October 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I thank my Liberal colleague for his question.

For several months we have known that the surplus would be close to $13 billion. Furthermore the Bloc Québécois, since 1997 or 1998, or since the first federal government surplus, came very close, even a year ahead, to the surplus forecasts year after year. We succeeded in making surplus forecasts with a margin of error of 2% or 3%. It was predictable.

I would like to take up a point that my colleague made earlier. He said that, at the end of the year, the unexpected surplus must be applied against the debt.

The Liberal Minister of Finance predicted the surplus. He knew that there would be a surplus. We were able to do it with the help of a calculator. So with his array of public servants he was able to do the same thing as us.

It is inaccurate to say that at the year-end any unexpected surplus has to be applied automatically against the debt. Within a few months of the fiscal year-end, it is possible to know that there will be a large surplus. It is possible to know, before year-end that this surplus will be of a certain order of magnitude.

There is something I blame the Liberals, the former Minister of Finance and also the former prime minister, for not doing. A few months before the fiscal year-end, we could have created a trust, as has already been done in Quebec—I think it was Ms. Marois who was Minister of Finance at the time—and made a legislative commitment that any unexpected surpluses would be deposited to this trust for allocation to some fundamental missions such as transfers for health, post-secondary education and so on.

Already, before the year-end, we could have planned a use for these funds and put them in a trust. We could have done so. We could have been more balanced than the imbalance presented since 1997-98. The current Minister of Finance presented the whole thing with great pride, the big cheque in the background, saying that $13 billion was being paid towards the debt when everything was falling apart all over the place. We need only think of softwood lumber, the textile and clothing sector, and older workers. There would have been a way to be a little more balanced than what has been managed so far.

Budget Implementation Act, 2006, No. 2 October 25th, 2006

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to this part of the Conservatives’ last budget. As you know, my party, the Bloc Québécois, supported the budget. It did so, not because the members of the Bloc liked the Conservatives—after 10 months, we like them less than we liked them at the time—but because at that time there were some sensible things in the budget. At least that is what we thought.

The fiscal imbalance file in particular is a fundamental file for Quebec, a file for which the Bloc Québécois has worked with all the vigour and rigour for which it has been known for years. We were even the first ones to talk about the concept of fiscal imbalance in the House of Commons several years ago. It was even before the Séguin Commission began its work in Quebec with a mandate from then Premier Bernard Landry to find some solutions to the fiscal imbalance, which leads to the underfunding of basic service programs for citizens by Quebec and the Canadian provinces.

Appended to the budget was a document, a very well prepared one, I might add. It said that the government was making a commitment to fix the fiscal imbalance, that this fall—the fall is advancing and the winter is fast approaching now—the Prime Minister would call a conference with the premiers of Quebec and the provinces to deal with the fiscal imbalance. Dealing with the fiscal imbalance does not mean fixing part of it. It means that Canada would transfer $12 billion in tax resources to the governments of Quebec and the provinces. It means, for Quebec alone, a transfer of $3.9 billion, including equalization.

We were stunned when, a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister began to minimize the amounts that were supposed to be transferred to the Government of Quebec and the provinces. He also dropped the idea of holding a first ministers conference, saying that it would take a consensus of the provinces for him to act. Since when, when a government wants to correct something within its jurisdiction, that is, federal tax resources, does it wait for a consensus of the provinces before acting? That is one way to pass the buck.

The fiscal imbalance was the most important issue when the budget was passed. Now, though, we do not know what has happened to the government’s promise. We do not know whether the Prime Minister will keep his word. If he does not, he was misleading us. At the time of the last election in Quebec, the Conservative Party accidentally won a few seats because it had made a solemn promise to fix the fiscal imbalance. We are dealing now with some bills to implement parts of the budget. Still there is no mention of the fiscal imbalance. The government seems to be wriggling away and it looks as if it will not keep its promise in the next budget.

That was the grand gesture that prompted the Bloc Québécois to support the government, give it a chance, and speak about a budget of transition until the next one. We believed it at the time in light of the promise the government had made to deal with the fiscal imbalance. We will see what happens. We will still give the government a chance, but we remind it that it is on its final laps and does not have much time to race to the finish and keep its promise. There will not be any second chances, like the one we gave it in the last budget.

The fiscal imbalance is only one of the issues. There are many others about which we have expressed our dissatisfaction day after day for 10 months, including the environment, Quebec’s representation at UNESCO, and so forth. The government should not fool around with us too much in this way because when the time comes to make decisions, we will be very rigorous and determined, as we have always been for 13 years. If the government has to be defeated over the next budget, we will do so.

I would like, though, to say a few words about some particular provisions in the budget that were somewhat overshadowed by the fiscal imbalance. There were some things we were very proud about. Let me tell the House why. It was 13 years ago today that we elected the first contingent of Bloc members. At the time, there were 54 of us. We formed the official opposition of Her Loyal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. From that time until today, the Bloc Québécois has always defended the interests of Quebec and the interests of the people, our fellow citizens.

My Bloc colleagues get up every morning wondering how they can contribute to the advancement of their fellow citizens, work and fight for the common good, and improve the lives of the most disadvantaged in society, and how they can block a government.

This government and the previous one seem to be clones of each other. We keep asking ourselves how to do battle with a government with no compassion, which does not offer any hope in terms of improving the lives of the most disadvantaged in society or ensuring that middle income families can benefit from a favourable tax environment that adds to their well-being.

That is what we in the Bloc Québécois have always done. That is what all my colleagues have been doing in every riding, one election after another.

I am proud to have been associated for the past 13 years with a team as outstanding as that of the Bloc Québécois, one that has been standing up for more than just the interests of Quebec. Whenever the interests of the rest of Canada coincided with those of Quebec, we gladly defended them. Since 1993, we have made friends all over Canada, and particularly among the workers. Why? Because our only motivation is the common good. And when the common good of Quebec meets that of Canada, we do not hesitate to work relentlessly and even to travel across Canada to meet with workers who have lost their jobs or seniors who are being mistreated.

The Liberals mistreated older persons by ignoring their needs, by abolishing, in 1997, the POWA program and by refusing to replace it with another program. The Conservatives are doing the same after promising to implement a program to help workers 55 and older who are victims of mass layoffs. They should receive support until their retirement because a number of them cannot be retrained to work in another sector of the economy either because there is no other company around when the only company in the region has closed and there is nowhere for them to relocate to or because after 30 or 35 years, these workers who thought they had a secure job until their retirement get the short end of the stick and have to liquidate any wealth they have accumulated over the years before they can get their pension. This obviously means loss of dignity, necessary liquidating of assets and possibly going on welfare.

Let us come back to specific measures in the budget. I said I am proud to have been associated with the Bloc Québécois team for the past 13 years. The Bloc team did not just oppose government measures; it proposed alternatives for the common good. I was going over the budget and I thought these issues were discussed a few years ago, issues such as the tax credit for public transportation. My colleague from Jonquière presented this in the Standing Committee on Finance. The Liberals and the Conservatives were skeptical. Only the NDP joined us in defending the tax credit for public transportation. My colleague from Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher introduced a new bill and defended it with a view to having a tax credit for public transportation. We debated these issues and we came up with these measures. When our adversaries ask what the purpose of the Bloc Québécois is, it is because they have nothing to say. They recognize our value, our rigour and our originality. We present things to improve the lot of our fellow citizens. Now they know the purpose of the Bloc Québécois. We are described as originals who have the strength and conviction to defend the measures we strongly believe in.

For years we have been saying that a tax credit for public transportation could contribute in a small way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This could encourage people to take public transportation instead of driving their cars with just one or two occupants. Public transportation causes much less pollution. We have been fighting for this for years.

I was looking at the tax deduction for toolkits. My colleague from Beauport, who is also the Bloc Québécois whip, introduced that measure nine years ago. He recognized the need, especially among young tradespeople, for tax deductions for toolkits, which can cost thousands of dollars.

We were allowing lawyers and other professionals to write off their professional expenses, but we were not letting young plumbers, mechanics, and so on, do so. This measure has now been adopted, but how long did the Bloc Québécois have to fight for it? The idea made its way through the system, and we never gave up. We pushed until the government included such measures in its budget. Perhaps it did so for electoral reasons, but that does not matter because the point is that it is going through.

Since 1996, the Bloc Québécois has fought tooth and nail for microbreweries in Quebec and the rest of Canada—at least, for those that are still around. Government inertia delayed the adoption of such a measure—a measure revisited by the Conservatives—and hundreds of microbreweries across Canada and around Quebec went bankrupt, including in isolated regions where they had developed niche markets. There are still some microbreweries around in Canada and Quebec. Thank goodness such a measure exists because their competitors are being offered even more generous fiscal treatment than what the government has put forward in its budget.

This kind of tax measure would enable the microbreweries in Quebec and the rest of Canada to meet the American and European competition. I do not know if you know, Mr. Speaker, but foreign microbreweries are competing with ours. Their licences are bought by the major Canadian breweries. In this way, thanks to a licence from an American or European microbrewery, the major Canadian brewers can become Canadian and Quebec microbreweries.

This tax measure is an additional way of ensuring that the uniqueness of a product is preserved. In Quebec, the Unibroue microbrewery was one of the victims of the lack of tax measures to facilitate competition with foreign microbrewers. Unibroue made some incredible beer before Sleeman bought it, withdrew and, as an example, reduced the wide array of high quality “strong beer one lees” varieties similar to some imported European beers whose traditional production goes back several centuries.

Unibroue had been successful, without any government assistance, by fighting. I remember the president of Unibroue coming here several times. At the time, he was the president of the microbrewers of Quebec and Canada. We fought alongside him, made a common front, not to gain an unrealistic advantage but so that microbrewers in Quebec and the rest of Canada could have the same advantages as American and European microbrewers.

I can recall—there are always memories—that the major Canadian brewers did something totally disgusting. They went through the back door to push the finance and national revenue departments, saying that this kind of measure should not be brought forward. Meanwhile, they were telling the microbrewers that they agreed with them on the need for such a measure and for a reduction of the tax rate on microbreweries producing less than 75 million litres. At the same time, the major brewers were meeting with public servants and telling them that this measure should not pass and things were fine. It was unbelievable, until the microbrewers decided to take things into their own hands and not rely on the major brewers who were body checking them as hard as they could.

So that, too, was some of the long-term work of the Bloc Québécois. When I hear the hon. member for Beauce, who is responsible for economic development, say, “You will never be in power”, I think it is the height of stupidity.

What then is the purpose of a Parliament? Is it just to have a government and not an opposition? That would be a dictatorship. If those are the democratic feelings of the member for Beauce, he is not in the right place. A good government requires a good parliament, that is a government and an opposition to put it in its place, to enhance legislation, to present ideas from the representatives of the majority of the population. We should not forget that, although they are arrogant, the Conservatives are in the minority. Those of us in the opposition represent the majority of the population of Quebec and of Canada, and that has been the case in the last two Parliaments. We speak on behalf of the citizens. The member for Beauce speaks for himself. In his mind, the power is his and federal money is his money. That is not the case.

Federal money is the money of the people; it belongs to our citizens. We are here to ensure that it is spent as wisely as possible. That money does not belong to the Prime Minister, nor to the member for Beauce, nor to the Minister of Finance— it belongs to the citizens. We stand up for citizens when they ask us to represent them and to obtain action on public transit and microbreweries, because they create a great deal of employment in the regions. We also stand up for plumbers and mechanics asking for a tax credit. We are their voice.

All the opposition parties represent the majority. The arrogance of the Conservatives will only last a while.

I find that we have been very patient these last 10 months, and we will be patient for a few more. However, we have heard enough about the Bloc Québécois being good for nothing. The Bloc is here to do its job, and its job is to represent the citizens that have voted for us, by a majority, since 1993, election after election, giving us a strong majority in Quebec. If this meant nothing, if we were good for nothing, Quebeckers would not have elected us.

My colleague should be more careful about what he says, because this is very serious. He is saying that a large majority of Quebeckers—his own fellow citizens—have been wrong every time since 1993, that they are not smart enough to make decisions, decisions involving power. But what power? Does he mean the power of his citizens?

He was not even able to defend the businesses in his riding. He talked about how proud he is to be in government and to have decision-making powers. But to decide for whom? Decide for what? He could not even be bothered to defend the softwood producers or manufacturers of bicycles, clothing and textiles in his riding. And God knows, in Beauce, those are important industries, particularly the carpet industry.

We are saying we support these measures. Of course, we support them. It would be difficult to do the opposite of what we have been doing for years. We are pleased that the other parties have taken up our ideas. We hope they take them up even more. We hope they take up our idea of loan guarantees for the forest industry.

That is what Parliament is for. It is for the fermentation of ideas. It is not intended to have a few people who pretend to be something they're not—I will refrain from using a popular Quebec expression, because it would be unparliamentary—and who speak only for themselves whenever they speak. The purpose of Parliament is to ensure that the best ideas emerge, so that we have the best possible government. A minority government is usually a better government because it has greater opposition, which represents the majority of citizens. That opposition pushes the government, and pushes it as hard as it can, to ensure that the government makes the best possible decisions based on the ideas, convictions and values of the majority represented in this Parliament by the opposition parties.

I would like to talk about business taxation for the next few minutes.

Since 1994, we have consistently been ardent advocates of reducing the tax burden for businesses and individuals. It is not a question of foolishly cutting taxes to pay businesses, rather to ensure that these businesses reinvest, especially in the high-tech sector, particularly in state-of-the-art production equipment, in order to tackle globalization and emerging competitors such as China, Brazil, India and Pakistan.

For roughly nine years now, companies have received tax cuts year after year. Nevertheless, I have always lamented to the presidents of the Chamber of Commerce of Canada—from Quebec City, Toronto, Montreal and everywhere in between—that, despite these nine consecutive tax cuts, companies have not made any structural investments to cope with the competitiveness of the emerging countries.

For years we have coasted on the value of the Canadian dollar to export, and export more, and never looked past the end of our noses.

I hope that, after everything we have seen in the past few years, we will ensure that further tax cuts in the budget will be used by business leaders for taking charge and making investments because the competitiveness—the productivity—of a company is not just about the employees. Make no mistake. It is a matter, above all, of equipment, of constant investment in high technology to compete with the best in the world. And that has not been done.

Businesses have not shouldered their responsibilities.

In my opinion, there needs to be a threefold strategy: require entrepreneurs to invest in new technology and modern equipment; support victims of rationalization—I am talking about older workers and POWA, among other things; and fight unfair competition.

Often the competition from our trading partners is unfair. However, Canada does nothing to fight this unfair competition the way other, European countries are fighting it so feverishly.