House of Commons photo

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament September 2008, as Bloc MP for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2006, with 54% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Snow Geese May 15th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment.

The snow geese management plan included an experimental project to look at the effectiveness of various hunting techniques. Environment Canada has just released its integrated management plan for snow geese, but there are no provisions on reducing the number of geese.

Will the federal government pledge to compensate farmers for the damage done to their fields by the geese?

Polyvalente Sainte-Thérèse May 8th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome a group of students from my riding of Saint-Eustache—Sainte-Thérèse.

Welcome, my friends from École polyvalente Sainte-Thérèse.

General Charles De Gaulle April 3rd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, 30 years ago General Charles de Gaulle visited Quebec and shouted his famous “Vive le Québec libre” from the balcony of Montreal's city hall. France will be issuing a commemorative medal, which was unveiled at a ceremony at Institut de France.

Originally, the plan was for France to issue not a medal but a commemorative stamp. However, pressured by the English-speaking majority, the Prime Minister of Canada phoned French President Jacques Chirac and stopped the project. Such interference is absolutely outrageous.

We are pleased with the French initiative. In the words of Pierre-Louis Mallen, president of the association for the commemoration of the general's historic visit, “Fewer medals will be awarded, but they will last much longer. Thanks to this medal, people will still remember General De Gaulle's visit to Quebec a hundred years from now.”

Income Tax Amendments Act, 1997 April 2nd, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-28, the catch all bill. It is in fact a humungous volume of 464 pages covering so many subjects that it is easy to play a game of hide and seek with and slip in unnoticed amendments that could benefit certain individuals or groups of individuals.

What had to happen happened. The vigilance of my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot led to the discovery on page 414, at the end of the volume, which everyone skips over, clause 241 amending paragraphs 250(6)( a ) and ( b ) of the Income Tax Act.

What does this clause concern? It concerns shipping, exclusively. The amendment, if passed, would permit international shipping companies to enjoy certain tax advantages. We all know that the Minister of Finance of Canada is sponsoring Bill C-28 and that he is also the sole owner of Canada Steamship Lines Inc., a shipping company.

We have the following questions. Is the Minister of Finance in an apparent or a real conflict of interest? In the light of his position, why is the Minister of Finance sponsoring this bill? Why, in his own words, is he unable to speak on the matter so as to avoid a conflict of interest?

Since February 5, 1998, my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and colleagues from all the opposition parties have been trying to get the facts on this bill and asking questions in this House, without success. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister direct the member and the opposition critics to the Standing Committee on Finance. As we know, the committee is under Liberal control. They do not want to hear the experts, witnesses who are likely to help the committee to get to the bottom of clause of 241 of Bill C-28, sponsored, I repeat, by the Minister of Finance.

This tactic helped me understand a lot of things. Yes, the finance minister was too busy with Bill C-28 to prepare a more realistic budget. He was more preoccupied with the tax benefits his company would get under this bill. Instead of indexing tax tables, helping small and medium size businesses to create jobs, reducing EI premiums and adjusting transfers to the provinces, our dear minister was busy with Bill C-28. Of course, his budget contained a proposal to promote Canadian unity, namely the millennium scholarship fund.

I do not want people to misunderstand our position with regard to the millennium scholarship fund. We, in the Bloc Quebecois, support the millennium scholarship fund as long as Quebec can withdraw from that program and is fully compensated so it can administer its own scholarship program.

In closing, I fail to understand why this government and the Standing Committee on Finance persist in refusing to hear witnesses. Do they have anything to hide? What kind of tricks do government members have up their sleeves? We want clear and precise answers to these and a lot of other questions.

This situation must be clarified for the sake of our integrity as members of this House, and that is why I am asking my colleagues to join me in supporting the motion brought forward by the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Supply March 12th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on what the hon. member for Mount Royal, who is a very wise member of this House, said.

In her comments, the hon. member dared to lecture us, and with good reason. I too feel very uncomfortable with the antics in this House and I agree 200% with the hon. member.

On the other hand, the hon. member for Mount Royal told us to look at the budget and added that it did not make sense in a state like Quebec to have such undereducated children and all the rest. I must tell the hon. member for Mount Royal that I did look at the budget. What was done about family trusts in order to help our poor children? What was done about the tax breaks enjoyed by certain corporations in order to help poor children get a better education? What is being done?

I too would be very uncomfortable to rise in my place and say: “We are doing a lot”. Three thousand dollars a year for some students beginning in the year 2000? That money is needed today, not in 2000. I too would be uncomfortable. I too would be unhappy to pass on messages and blame people. That is not the objective of our debate. The millennium fund does not make sense since it will start only in 2000.

Secondly, we have the necessary tools to manage the money. Why spend money? It should go to the students. They should be given money to go to school, not a meagre $3,000 a year.

I have a question for the hon. member. How will she manage to make more money available to each and every government in Canada? Instead of cutting transfers, how can they give money to these governments so they can help poor people and the middle class?

Supply March 12th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I remind the member opposite that he must address the issue being debated.

The Budget March 9th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite is hard of hearing or he did not listen to my speech, perhaps because it was in French.

We are saying duplication must end, that the $82 million should come back to Quebec, that it must be sent, transferred to Quebec, and that Quebec is capable of looking after this $82 million. We have proven it. By managing the program established by Mr. Pearson, Quebec has a less expensive system of education, and its students have the smallest debt load. Instead of spending money and treading on toes, the government should send the $82 million to Quebec and let it look after it. Students would be better off.

The Budget March 9th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, I thank my wise colleague for his question, but I would remind him that the money being given out comes from Quebec.

I would also remind my colleague that Le Quartier , the University of Montreal newspaper, wrote “In the millennium fund, Ottawa should step aside for Quebec”, and “Save the university”. In La Presse , Claude Piché, no friend of the sovereignists, called it the “millennium catastrophe”. The same press review also says, on the subject of the position adopted by the Quebec university students' association “millennium scholarships rejected”. I am speaking on behalf of the people of Quebec.

The Budget March 9th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, if you will allow me, I will share my time with my charming colleague from Drummond.

I applaud this first balanced budget since the 1970s. Do not get me wrong, however. I am not congratulating my friends opposite. My congratulations go primarily to the provincial governments, which have had to manage cuts to their social, health care and education transfers. They go as well to the employers and employees who have suffered the adverse effects of the government's shameless dipping into the employment insurance fund in order to balance its budget. That is scandalous.

I applaud the people of Quebec and of Canada, the poor and the middle class, who contribute in no small measure to this government's revenues through increased taxes.

Let us move on now to my comments on the budget. Like most Canadian politicians, the experts and journalists, I find nothing or next to nothing in this budget. The proof is in the press reviews the following day, which said “That's it, that's all”. Journalists and experts were describing it as lacking substance and vision. The economists were calling it weak and insipid. I will leave it at that, otherwise I will be spending my ten minutes commenting on the budget.

It is so nebulous that those opposite have started a promotional campaign and are asking their ministers, their big guns, to visit the ridings and sell the budget. The President of the Treasury Board was in my riding last week to sell the finance minister's budget. What he finally said was that he was there to hear people's views on what the government should be doing.

I have some advice for the President of the Treasury Board. Quit wasting your time. This same finance minister started the practice of having the finance committee travel across Canada to take the public's pulse. I even held a prebudget meeting in my riding. All this work by the experts did not reach the finance minister's ears. He was deaf to it, or perhaps too busy worrying about Bill C-28.

The cross-Canada committee, as well as people from my riding, had some good suggestions for the finance minister. They suggested he stop cutting provincial transfer payments, put an end to the disgraceful waste of this government, clean up existing programs, index taxes and tax credits, reform taxation, lower the premiums paid by employers and employees to the EI fund by a significant amount, not a measly 20 cents, implement job creation programs, introduce an anti-deficit bill, and on and on.

What did the Minister of Finance do? He ignored these experts. He did absolutely nothing.

Yes, there was the Millennium Fund, and I would like to talk about that. What do we know about it? Not a great deal, except that it will perhaps be based on need, or merit, it has not yet been decided, and that its president will be Mr. Landry, the president of Chrysler Canada. This is a good opportunity for him to advertise his automobiles. That is all that we know.

There is one more thing that we know, and that is that this government has cut between $2.3 and $2.7 billion in education since 1993. Now it is preening itself over a $2.5 billion fund. This government is going to continue to make cuts of over $10 billion in education between now and 2003. But still it creates a fund.

What are the stated and unstated purposes of this fund? Is it a way of boosting the Prime Minister's image before he leaves active politics? Is it a springboard for the finance minister in the race for leadership of his party? The Prime Minister himself has admitted that one of the goals is to distribute or promote the Canadian flag. On February 26, the Liberals and the Reformers showed us in this House how good they are when it comes to promoting the Canadian flag.

There is another thing that is condemned by everyone and confirmed by the following media report: “It is the government's stated goal to provoke and to get directly involved in the affairs of provincial governments, under the pretext of helping our students, starting in the year 2000. But students need help now. The government should be ashamed of playing politics at the expense of our students”.

Let me provide some background on Quebec's loans and grants program. It was in 1964 that a true Prime Minister, a true Liberal, Lester B. Pearson, a Nobel Prize winner, set up the Canadian student loans program to help students continue their education.

At the request of the Quebec premier of the day, the Hon. Jean Lesage, who wanted to manage and implement a program that would meet Quebec's needs, Mr. Pearson decided, after giving the idea some thought and finding nothing wrong with it, to give Quebec the right, or rather the privilege, because it did not confer any special status, to establish and manage its own program. The other Canadian provinces could have availed themselves of the same privilege, but they chose not to do so, preferring to manage an already established program.

The result is that Quebec now has a unique student loans and grants program that is superior to anything that exists elsewhere in Canada. Quebec spends $600 million on a program designed to provide loans and scholarships to 170,000 students. Our province also invested $18 million in a scholarship program based on merit. The net result of this is that education costs in Quebec are lower than in the rest of Canada, and the average debt of Quebec students is $11,000, compared to $25,000 in the rest of the country. Ottawa must grant Quebec the privilege to opt out with full compensation.

I will conclude by referring to an article which said that in 1995, the federal Parliament adopted a motion recognizing Quebec's distinct character and formally guaranteeing Quebeckers that the departments, institutions and agencies of the Government of Canada would take that into account when making their decisions. The Liberals must live up to their commitments.

Bill C-28 February 20th, 1998

Mr. Speaker, if indeed the Minister of Finance has nothing to hide, why is this government afraid to shed light on this matter with the help of a special committee?