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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

Canadian Wheat Board Act November 20th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-4, an act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act.

My colleagues in the Bloc and I agree with the government's intention to amend this act. It is interesting to see that, finally, the government seems to want to give more decision making powers to grain producers. I say seems to want, because the amendments to the act are being made by the government, not by and for the producers.

It would have been in order for the government to first seek a consensus among producers before making these amendments, but it did not do so, if we are to believe what we are hearing in this House. I will not get into the technical aspects of the act, but I will raise the issues of fairness, honesty and patronage as they relate to the legislation.

I firmly believe, as do the majority of members sitting on this side of the House, that the Auditor General of Canada should have the right and the authority to look into the activities of the Canadian Wheat Board. I sometimes wonder. Why are government members opposed to the auditor general doing that? Why are they opposed to the auditor general checking into the Bank of Canada? Why are they opposed to him looking into the Canada Post Corporation? Why are they opposed to him checking into the Canada Ports Corporation? I could go on and on.

These are corporations which are funded by us, the taxpayers. The auditor general must not just write an annual report. His primary role is to check on how public money is spent and then report on it, so that this government can make the necessary changes.

I have here a few questions. What would have been the government's response to cases involving the Canadian Wheat Board if the auditor general had looked into this? It is all very fine and well to use chartered accountants—my colleague, the member for Frontenac—Mégantic, said they will check the books—but accountants do not make recommendations about mismanagement of a corporation.

I also wonder how it is that our friends opposite did not pay attention to the Canadian Wheat Board mini-scandal over the revamping of Churchill Falls.

How is it that our friends opposite turned a deaf ear to the pleas of the mayor of Thunder Bay? How is it that the mayor of a city in Ontario is forced to turn to a member from Quebec for support? The mayor of Thunder Bay, like all residents of Ontario in the Lake Superior area, is wondering why the federal government invested $44.5 million on window dressing in that city. Why did this government's Department of Transport give $16 million to CN in compensation for selling off the Winnipeg—Churchill Falls section to Omni Tracks, which Omni Tracks operates on Hudson Bay Rails? CN received $16 million in compensation for this.

Why is the Department of Transport investing over $14.4 million in a dust control system in the port of Churchill and $1.6 million in a system to unload trains? This unnecessary spending adds up to almost $50 million.

What purpose will it serve? Instead of grain going to Thunder Bay, across Lake Superior and then up the St. Lawrence to Europe, it will go to Europe through Churchill Falls, a port that is not open 12 months a year.

This change, according to figures provided by the city of Thunder Bay, will send 700,000 tonnes of grain through Churchill Falls instead of through Thunder Bay, which will deprive Thunder Bay of $35,750,000 annually. This pointless spending will cost 12 Thunder Bay employees their jobs. In addition, this policy will cost Thunder Bay $1.7 million in taxes annually. To put it plainly, the government is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

The experts—not me, but the experts—say that from a common point between Vancouver and Redford, Saskatchewan, and from Redford to Thunder Bay or to a port on the St. Lawrence, the cost per tonne of grain, of wheat shipped, differs—

Supply November 6th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I can understand the emotion and the indignation of my friend from Manicouagan. I can understand how a person can rise and jump about a bit. This is what happens when you hear all sorts of not very intelligent remarks in this House.

Supply November 6th, 1997

Madam Speaker, in 1990 it was the party of Robert Bourassa that was in office.

Supply November 6th, 1997

Madam Speaker, we are not asking for any favours. We are asking for justice.

Supply November 6th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I will continue with my speech.

It must be remembered that in a democracy only a people has the right and the obligation to determine its future.

We must put an end to the intrusion by the federal government into areas under provincial jurisdiction and, thus, bring overlap to an end.

Hon. members will understand that I am referring here to Bill C-14, a debate that will make us throw a lot of money down the drain.

I will end my speech by inviting all hon. members, without reference to their political allegiance, to strongly support this motion.

Supply November 6th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to the motion regarding the harmonization of the GST and the QST in Quebec.

The motion reads as follows:

That this House condemn the government for blatant unfairness to Quebec in the matter of the GST, the government having denied it compensation without letting it submit its arguments to an independent arbitration panel made up of three experts, the first to be appointed by the federal government, the second by the government of Quebec, and the third jointly by the first two.

The GST Act came into force on January 1, 1991. As everyone knows, the federal government of the day implemented this new tax in great haste without a thorough analysis of its application, causing many technical difficulties.

Today, this legislation is still criticized, mainly by small and medium size businesses which are forced to collect this tax for the federal government, thereby incurring considerable administrative costs. A business must collect this 7% tax from the consumer. It is reimbursed through an input tax credit. This tax credit may be requested by each individual in the production and distribution chain, with the result that it is the consumer, and the consumer alone, who pays the GST.

It would be normal and fair for the consumer to have some say over where his money goes, since he is well aware that the GST is a very important source of federal revenues. Furthermore, this is why, despite their 1993 red book promise, the Liberals have not yet abolished the GST. Yet this tax adds considerably to the tax bill of already overtaxed citizens.

We in Quebec were good sports. We were the first to harmonize the tax, just as we were the first to defend Canada's interests in the free trade issue. Now that other provinces want to follow Quebec's lead and harmonize the GST, the federal government is getting generous. If the federal government gave $1 billion to certain governments in the maritimes, why is it refusing to give the people of Quebec their fair share for harmonizing the GST? Is it the size of the cheque required that is scaring it off?

Speaking of the size of the cheque, in the interests of fairness, we in the Bloc Quebecois are suggesting through this motion that the federal government create a neutral arbitration panel, with one representative to be appointed by the federal government, one by the Quebec government, and one to be neutral. One of the things this committee would be called upon to do is to work out the amount of this cheque.

Imagine what the Government of Quebec would do with this $2 billion it has coming to it. It could certainly improve its public image, which has taken a beating because of the cuts of over $2.237 million made by the federal government in social transfer payments to Quebec. And this does not stop the Minister of Finance from tooting his own horn in every public forum about the good job he is doing.

It is not difficult to arrive at a zero deficit with the methods used by our dear Minister of Finance; all you have to do is cut social transfers to the provinces by 54% and shamelessly dip into the employment insurance fund. This money belongs to the unemployed and to the employers who contribute to it. In fact, speaking of the employment insurance fund, we recommend strongly to the Minister of Finance that he lower the employment insurance premium rate from $2.90 to about $2.50.

With these new rates, small and medium-sized businesses could, among other things, start investing in job creation. Even with these rates, the employment insurance fund surplus would allow the Minister of Human Resources Development to reevaluate the eligibility requirements for employment insurance.

Yes, it would be interesting if the Minister of Finance, instead of digging directly or indirectly into the pockets of the less privileged in society, could respect the commitments he made in 1995 to reduce departmental expenditures by 19%. It is much easier for the government to act as it does than to tackle the real waste problem.

Has this government really taken steps to stop waste? No. Think of the billion dollars that this government foolishly let slip from the state's coffers when it privatized our air traffic control system.

Let me remind you of the facts. The Minister of Finance himself had estimated our air traffic control system at $2.6 billion. As for the Minister of Transport, he had estimated it at $2.4 billion. So we can say that the average value of the air traffic control system is $2.5 billion. Why was this system sold for $1.5 billion, as the Auditor General of Canada asked in his latest report.

I repeat the question: How can this government shamelessly and without regret justify this billion dollar shortfall that could have been used, for example, for our young people, our single mothers, our old people?

Speaking of young people, I must tell this House how appalled I am that in 1997, children are going to school in the morning on an empty stomach. This does not seem to sadden our Heritage Minister, when you consider how freely she is throwing our money to the wind.

We must not forget that it is that same minister who was forced to resign because of an 1993 electoral promise that was not kept, namely that “we Liberals will abolish the GST”. Not only did she come back, but she continues to waste people's hard-earned money with her bogus projects. We have for instance her flag project, which is blowing in the wind and scattering taxpayers' money around. In 1996-97, this foolish initiative cost $15.5 million.

I will mention only that project, but I can tell you today that with all her useless programs, that minister has spent $94.6 million of the taxpayers' money.

What a disgrace! Let us think about hungry children.

I cannot go on about this government's shameless wastefulness because it makes me ill.

Before wasting money needlessly, let us think of all our people who are living in poverty.

I believe that any self-respecting government which is interested in making proper use of its taxpayers' money should, before it spends money needlessly, get the go-ahead from all of its elected representatives, without any partisanship. Second, it ought to follow the recommendations of the auditor general to the letter. We must not lose sight that the auditor general's function is to watch out for the taxpayer's interests. Third, all governments ought to follow the lead of the municipal governments and pass anti-deficit legislation. Fourth, they should reform the corporate tax structure so that it helps create jobs, and the personal income tax system so that it will be more equitable.

At the present time, we know that this supposedly sensible government is on the verge of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on helicopters without having the decency to reveal all the pertinent details of the purchase.

I am imploring the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to have the courage to break the chain and to consult his colleagues in the House before he issues a purchase order to the tune of several million dollars. This would offer him a golden opportunity to practice what he preaches, the transparency of government operations.

Indirectly, it is GST funds with which the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is allowing Guy Bertrand to take the case of the legitimacy of Quebec's sovereignty before the Supreme Court.

He and his colleague, the Minister of Justice, must put an end to this legal wrangling, which is costing the taxpayer a fortune.

Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act November 4th, 1997

Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak this morning on Bill C-7, the Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park Act.

I would like to remind the House that this bill was first introduced by Mr. Bouchard when he was Minister of the Environment in this House in 1990, at the time of the “beau risque”.

I would also remind honourable members that it is the premier of Quebec who sponsored the bill and the recent agreement between the federal and the provincial governments.

I would like to focus on our parks, particularly those in Quebec and especially this one. Quebeckers, like all other Canadians, love the outdoors. This park will be an important tool for tourism development in our region and an essential facility for learning about marine life in our province and especially in the beautiful Saguenay River, which is almost comparable in terms of size and water flow to the great St. Lawrence.

One interesting feature of this bill is that it was initiated by ordinary people. Local people consulted each other in order to develop this provincial asset. Local people, with the help of the provincial and federal governments, came together to create an essential facility.

Most interestingly, even today the agreement signed provides that the marine park will be administered by local people. Naturally, the committee will also be composed of a federal representative, a provincial representative, as well as representatives of the surrounding municipalities and RCMs.

This new marine park—which I invite you to visit—will be not only a tourist attraction but also a protected area for fish from our ocean and our river.

Like all my Bloc colleagues, I support Bill C-7.

Supply October 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made by the hon. member for Lévis. I am a new member in this House, but I agree with him that it is sometimes annoying to see people trying to distract those who are speaking. Whatever happened to the freedom of speech?

The hon. member for Lévis gave a great speech and I also appreciated the comments made by the member for Gatineau, who made a very intelligent presentation. I hope we will continue in the right direction.

C.D. Howe Institute October 9th, 1997

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the C.D. Howe Institute released an analysis which confirmed what we have been saying for a long time. It says that Canada and a sovereign Quebec would be well advised to negotiate promptly a mutually beneficial agreement.

The arguments of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs are once again refuted by common sense. It must be that the oft-repeated words of the Quebec premier are finally finding an echo in English Canada.

I remind you that Mr. Bouchard was saying recently to English-Canadian businessmen that Canada and a sovereign Quebec would negotiate an agreement in good faith, simply because it would be in the best interest of both parties. This is the truth.

Those who try to intimidate Quebec can talk all they want, reality will overtake them and common sense will prevail.

Supply September 30th, 1997

Madam Speaker, we simply do not agree with the government and it has nothing to do with the 50:50 ratio. It is simply a matter of redistributing surplus money equitably, as it should be.