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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

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan November 15th, 2005

Mr. Chair, my friend from Nipissing—Timiskaming is not being in the least bit serious. We are not talking about Ottawa but rather Kandahar. Diplomacy, defence and development assistance are not the same in Ottawa and Kandahar. They do not exist there; these people have nothing.

We went and saw the devastation. There are almost no houses, no roads, and no water or waste water systems. Everything needs to be rebuilt from scratch. How many young girls go to school in Kandahar, Afghanistan? They are never seen in public. They have to be sent to almost underground schools.

This is not the army's fault. This is the society in which these people live. It is our job to help them. I understand that we want to help them out of their abject poverty and improve their lives, but let us be logical. There needs to be a better balance between diplomacy, defence and development assistance.

That is my question. I am not saying that we are doing things badly, but could we improve the situation by increasing diplomatic efforts and development assistance. I have nothing against this plan here. However, we could improve it by putting a little more emphasis on diplomacy and development assistance and by adding things. That is what I think.

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan November 15th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I want to point out to my colleague that I never denigrated members of the armed forces, far from it. If you interpreted it that way, then I apologize. We do not speak the same French.

I agree with you, the three d s are there. You were at the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs meeting. You recall that on October 4, we had a presentation. As far as development is concerned, or the PRT, in February 2006, there will be 23 people. And with respect to diplomacy during that same period, there will be 14 people out of 2,451 soldiers. Yes, this is happening at the same time, but I think we have 98% for defence and only a small fraction for the other two d s, namely diplomacy and development. Perhaps there could be better balance.

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan November 15th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I can understand my colleague's position as well as his concerns. We must not lose sight of the fact, however, that the people over there are military personnel. They are there to defend Afghans, young and old, and to take care of them. I do not know if they have the training for the education, health and medical care this population requires. How prepared and open are the Afghans to receiving help from military personnel rather than civilians?

In my view, the NGOs lack the warlike aspect of the military and their military equipment. They are armed with kind words, consolation, food and medications, with which they will win over the hearts of the people of Afghanistan.

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan November 15th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to take part in this somewhat emotional and worrisome debate since it concerns the decision that has already been taken to send our soldiers to Afghanistan. It will be no picnic. Our soldiers are not going on a peacekeeping mission. The mission's main purpose is to clean up the Kandahar region, occupied by the Taliban, most of whom are generally members of al-Qaeda. It will not be an easy mission.

This evening I hope that every Canadian and every Quebecker makes a special wish that nothing terrible happens to these young men and women on the other side of the world and that there is as little loss of human life as possible.

I want to devote part of my speech to the PRT, or the provincial reconstruction teams. Let us take a brief look at their background. In December 2001, the coalition set up the Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force to supervise the civilian operations of the Coalition Humanitarian Liaison Cells. These cells had multiple missions. As the Americans said, their goal was “to win the hearts and mind of the people”. Their other mission was to start reconstruction and help boost public opinion of the coalition's image.

One of the letters in the acronym PRT stands for reconstruction. In my opinion, reconstruction means restoring infrastructure, the water system, destroyed roads, and so forth. To do this, military personnel have been sent without uniforms or defining features and in unmarked vehicles. This has been a huge problem for NGOs. They work much better with the 3D approach: defence, diplomacy and development assistance. My dictionary distinguishes between reconstruction and development. We can develop health care or parenting skills. Developing a society means learning to create companies and provide jobs. That is called development.

In my opinion, development is best left to the NGOs, while the PRTs should be responsible for reconstruction. However, the PRTs and the NGOs should work hand in hand when it comes to defence and diplomacy.

Unfortunately, as my colleague from Saint-Jean said, there will not be too much diplomacy going on. That is what is happening.

Now I want to talk about guidelines. What should the PRTs do? First, they should concentrate on security. Restoring security is important, such as training the Taliban to be good police officers. In fact, the RCMP is part of the PRTs. They should be responsible, for example, for protecting and properly handling the prisoners of war. That is their role.

The PRTs should refrain from providing and distributing humanitarian aid—such as food, for example—except in emergency situations. That should be the mission of the NGOs, just as Doctors Without Borders provides medical care.

As I said earlier, the PRTs should concentrate on infrastructure reconstruction and local security reform, rather than so-called quick impact development projects. Such efforts are well perceived and quickly implemented, but the PRTs should specialize in long-term projects.

The PRTs must answer to the local communities and their government, which knows how things are done there. Their system of education and culture are different from ours.

From my point of view, there is a major difference between development and reconstruction. Reconstruction is more mechanical, physical construction, whereas development is more intellectual and focussed on people's well-being. That is the difference between the two.

I have one big wish. I wish that, unlike the situation post-Gulf, post-Bosnia, post-Kosovo, we will not have any young military personnel coming back from this conflict with post-traumatic stress. In two, three or four years, when it is all over, I hope there will be not be any veterans like Nathalie Gagnon, Georges Dumont, Stéphane Grénier, Marc Hamel, Louise Richard, Marc Stében and François Gignac. Those young people have all been to my office to tell me how their lives have been shattered by the problems they have experienced and by PTS. They are all around my son's age.

I am very emotional about this issue. I am speaking to the chair of the Standing Sub-committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs. I feel that, unfortunately, we MPs are not concerned enough about taking care of these young people.

In conclusion, the situation in Afghanistan is far from being stabilized. I hope I am wrong about this, but I do not think it will be an easy task.

Veterans Week November 4th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the week of November 5 to 11 is dedicated to our veterans. I am proud to pay tribute to the men and women who went to war either in global conflicts or in peacekeeping operations.

This occasion reminds us of our obligation to take care of our veterans, including the more recent ones who often have a hard time fitting back into society because of the after-effects of their mission, for example post traumatic stress.

Let us be grateful and respectful to these thousands of men and women who made such a sacrifice in defending our freedom and democracy.

Let peace be our primary focus. The Bloc Québécois salutes those who defend this peace—

Unanticipated Surpluses Act October 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier for his excellent speech.

I would like his opinion on a concern I have. Is the objective of the bill, and maybe the sole objective of that bill, to definitively bury the fiscal imbalance issue?

Civil Marriage Act June 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting no.

The Budget February 24th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to ask my colleague a question; he is a member of the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs.

Does he find it somewhat odd to see this budget spread over five years? For example, it appears that $12 billion has been allocated to National Defence, but ultimately, only $500 million will be provided next year. Eventually, over five years, $12 billion will be invested.

Does the member not believe there is a danger in proceeding this way? For example, a change in government could occur—which we all want—or, in two or three years' time, the Minister of Finance might simply decide to cancel all the wonderful promises contained in this speech, particularly with regard to National Defence.

Veterans February 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to speak on Motion M-190. It was introduced on November 4, 2004 by our colleague, the hon. member for Tobique—Mactacquac, and reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should establish a fund to help ensure the maintenance and the preservation of war memorials in communities across Canada in honour of our war veterans.

I will make our position clear immediately. The Bloc Québécois supports this initiative, which is intended to pay tribute to our soldiers who fought for democracy and freedom. These memorials are part of our heritage and reminders of our history.

Just about everywhere in Canada, whether in my birthplace of Evain, in Abitibi, which is represented by my neighbour in this House, or whether it is in Amos, in Deux-Montagnes in my riding, in Montreal's Côte-des-Neiges Cemetery, whether it is the Croix du sacrifice in Quebec City, or whether it is in Sherbrooke or Trois-Rivières, or indeed virtually any municipality in Quebec, there is a memorial in honour of war veterans. Wherever there is a Canadian Legion, there is a memorial.

Today, we need to acknowledge and thank our municipalities and Canadian Legions, which have paid for repairing and maintaining these memorials out of their own funds. I must pay tribute to people like Claude McGuire of Amos, who wrote a letter to his MP recently. SInce I am responsible for the Veterans Affairs portfolio, I was sent a copy of the letter. In it he requested several thousand dollars for the upkeep of the Amos war memorial. Unfortunately, he could no longer afford to do it. His MP and I contacted the Minister of Veterans Affairs. I understand her situation. She had to respond by saying that there was no money and no program for this purpose.

The purpose of this motion is to remedy that situation, and I think it will help.

I must also pay tribute to some others who are in the same situation. Mrs. Côté, the president of the Granby war veterans, is one and my friend Victor Smart is another. He is the president of the Deux-Montagnes Canadian Legion and has done his utmost to maintain the two memorials in his area and to keep them in good shape. I thank the Legion members, and I thank the people in the municipalities who are fulfilling the federal government's role by maintaining these memorials.

In my opinion, the motion before me is far too vague. For instance, the amount of the fund is not specified, nor is the type of monument we should consider. Are there regulations establishing that certain monuments are a federal responsibility? Are there regulations establishing which monuments are considered federal veteran monuments? How do we determine that my colleague's monument in Amos is looked after, but the monument in my riding, in Deux-Montagnes, is not?

I think very clear rules need to be established to determine which monuments we want to keep and protect.

The monuments in Quebec were erected to pay tribute to war veterans. Again, unfortunately, they are the responsibility of the Royal Canadian Legion and the municipalities that host them. Most communities lack the resources to maintain these monuments because of the exodus to big cities and the aging veteran population.

Speaking of the aging veteran population, I want to caution all the hon. members in this House that we currently have young veterans in our society, people who went to war in Bosnia, people who are out in the street suffering from post traumatic stress. We must protect and take care of them.

In conclusion, I also want to thank my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue, who I know fully supports my position.

Supply December 9th, 2004

Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to listen to my colleague from Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia. It is always worthwhile to hear someone speak on a topic he is familiar with, one he addresses with passion, love and interest. Enough flattery; now for the criticism.

First of all, I would like to ask my colleague whether the problems with the Pacific salmon are similar to those with the Atlantic salmon? And second, what is his opinion of genetically modified salmon?