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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was colleague.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

The Armenian People April 21st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the representatives of the Bloc are not here to find solutions, but rather to focus on the problems.

This is the approach they take to every issue, be it health, employment insurance, or anything else. In this particular instance, the government is working along with the provincial governments, while respecting jurisdictions.

I am certain that, if my Bloc colleague made a comparative study of gas prices around the world, he would realize that we are not the worst off. The government is putting measures in place to promote the development of better energy sources and thus impact on all environmental considerations. Ultimately, the costs to all Canadian consumers will be far lower.

Even on the international level, I am certain that steps taken by the various governments, within jurisdictional limits, will contribute to lower resource prices.

The Armenian People April 21st, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. Allow me to thank the standing committee for considering a matter that concerns many people.

As a result of its research, the committee recommended that the federal government create an independent petroleum monitoring agency responsible for collecting and providing information on gasoline pricing and tabling an annual report.

The government, particularly this department in cooperation with other departments, considered the committee's recommendation. The government believes nonetheless that its current activities, combined with research about the situation across Canada and abroad, information largely provided by the private sector—provincial sectors and a number of organizations must also be taken into consideration—represent the most practical and efficient way of informing consumers.

We must not forget that, exceptionally in times of crises, the federal government would be able to invoke the Canadian Constitution to interfere in a sector such as this one. However, under the Constitution, the provinces clearly have the jurisdiction and the responsibility for regulating gasoline pricing.

I am convinced that my Bloc Quebecois colleague does not intend to encourage us to ignore provincial jurisdiction, particularly that of Quebec.

The only role the government plays in this is administration of the Competition Act. The Competition Bureau is the federal body responsible for ensuring that product prices in all non-regulated sectors of the economy are set by market forces and not by price fixing. Its role is to monitor this in all sectors of economic activity.

Since 1985, the Government of Canada has had a market-driven energy policy. This means in particular that domestic prices for oil and refinery products are based on the international price of crude oil.

Recent price hikes on petroleum products in Canada are in large part connected to developments in the international markets over which Canadians have no control, such as the huge jump in crude oil prices triggered by the increased world demand and the tight markets.

In the United States in particular, there are other complicating factors, particularly the general strike in Venezuela, the war in Iraq and civil strife in Nigeria. These geopolitical factors have contributed to reducing the available supply. What is perhaps more important is the resulting consumer uncertainty. As a result, fuel prices have risen and become more unstable, and the fluctuations are reflected at the pump.

Natural Resources Canada also plans to redesign its site to make it more accessible to the public, and to provide better links to other information sources.

I would just add in closing that, for the past 20 years, the Government of Canada has developed other solutions to help Canadians make wise energy choices and reduce their energy bills.

Through the programs of Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency, considerable efforts have been expended to ensure wide distribution of information on vehicle fuel efficiency. The office is also actively involved in promoting energy efficiency and the use of alternative fuels.

Canada National Parks Act April 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the minister and on behalf on my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, who is working elsewhere today.

It is interesting to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-28, when we know quite well that an extremely important round table is being held today, whose purpose is to make every effort to ensure that the first nations can control their development even more efficiently in the future.

As you know, in cooperation with the provincial governments, the Canadian government is trying to expedite the implementation of a series of agreements that will enable the first nations to take control of their own development, to make their own strategic choices and to have a greater ability to respond to the extremely important needs of each of their communities. Already, 14 agreements have been signed and 70 are being negotiated throughout the country.

Today, it is an honour to have the opportunity to address Bill C-28, which amends the Canada National Parks Act. It is obviously a privilege for me because of the context, as I just pointed out, of the withdrawal of lands from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada and Riding Mountain National Park of Canada for the purposes of Indian reserves.

My speech is addressed to all my colleagues in Parliament and all Canadians, and will focus on the Government of Canada's commitment in the recent throne speech to improving the quality of life of aboriginal Canadians. I believe that, if the quality of life of our aboriginal fellow citizens improves, the quality of life of all Canadians improves as a result. This is the purpose of Bill C-28. Several agreements have been signed already and several dozen more will be signed in coming months.

I would also like to remind my colleagues that this bill will not create a precedent for other national parks. These are unique circumstances we must collectively consider. The changes relating to the withdrawal of lands are for the purpose of improving the housing shortage on the Esowista reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht first nation. In the case of the Riding Mountain National Park, they will correct an error in the wording of the legal description of the ceded lands, in compliance with a specific land claim.

As for the Esowista reserve, when Pacific Rim National Park Reserve was created in 1970, it completely surrounded the seven-hectare parcel of land occupied by the Esowista reserve of the Tla-o-qui-aht first nation since 1889. At the time, Esowista was changing from a seasonal fishing camp to a permanent residential community.

The Government of Canada recognized that a larger site would eventually be required to meet the needs of the Esowista community. Over the years, population growth strained the capacity of the Esowista Reserve and problems with water quality and sewage disposal emerged.

As a result of negotiations between the Tla-o-qui-aht first nation, Parks Canada, and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the Canada National Parks Act will be amended to remove 86.4 hectares of land from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to expand the Esowista Indian Reserve.

The withdrawal of this land will address acute overcrowding in Esowista, allow infrastructure improvements to remedy sewage disposal and water quality concerns, and support the development of a model community that will exist in harmony with the national park reserve. This land represents less than 1% of the park’s total land base.

Withdrawing this land from the territory now occupied by the park will only slightly impact the ecological integrity of the park and will allow us to meet the needs of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.

With respect to Riding Mountain National Park and Reserve No. 61A of the Ojibway Keeseekoowenin First Nation, in 1896, a parcel of land on the north shore of Clear Lake in Manitoba was allocated for the establishment of a reserve named “Reserve No. 61A” for use by the Ojibway Keeseekoowenin First Nation as a fishing camp.

The site in question was located inside a Dominion timber reserve. In 1929, when Riding Mountain National Park was created, it took in most of the Dominion timber reserve and of Indian Reserve No. 61A. The Ojibway Keeseekoowenin First Nation was relocated to another site outside the national park. In 1994, an agreement for the settlement of the specific land claim was signed between the Ojibway Keeseekoowenin and Canada and Reserve No. 61A was restored. In 2000, most of the lands in question were removed from the Riding Mountain site when the Canada National Parks Act was enacted. However, because of a mistake made during the preparation of the official instrument removing the lands in question, a five-hectare tract of land was omitted and remained within the park's boundaries.

Therefore, the Canada National Parks Act will be amended in order to restore Reserve No. 61A of the Ojibway Keeseekoowenin nation in its entirety, and in order to correct the mistake made at the time.

Removing 86.4 hectares from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will not unduly detract from the objectives of ecological integrity for the park because the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has promised to cooperate with Parks Canada to ensure long term protection for the natural and cultural resources of the lands in the park surrounding the Esowista reserve.

These lands represent less than 1% of the total land area of the park reserve.

The environmental assessment concluded that very little old growth forest would be lost since a good portion of the area that would be affected by the development of Esowista had already been logged before becoming a national park reserve. There will be no direct impact on the unique or rare habitats or on the peat bogs or other types of wetlands. Other sites with high natural values will not be greatly affected. There will be no indirect impact on the species designated by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada and no significant negative impact on the land use by the community, and whatever impact there is will be maintained at an acceptable level thanks to proven technologies and good land management strategies.

The Tla-o-qui-aht first nation and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs have committed to use the land in a way that would respect the ecological integrity of the park. Also, several measures will be taken to help promote the sustainable development of the park.

The management of the lands to be withdrawn from the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve will be based on the guidelines for model communities developed by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Parks Canada will review the master plan for the site and then submit it for approval to the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Also, each individual project will be subject to an assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

To provide proper protection to the lands adjacent to the park, a $2.5 million mitigation fund will be provided to Parks Canada by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.

It is expected that this money will be used over 10 years to monitor the impact of community use, conduct related research and implement the required mitigation measures.

The projects include the monitoring of wildlife movements, to prevent conflict between wildlife and humans; and conduct research on possible mitigation measures, such as wildlife enclosures, as well as community education programs.

Concerning the five hectares to be withdrawn from Riding Mountain Park, this is a requirement from the 1994 specific land claim agreement. I can reassure Canadians that this amendment to the Canada National Parks Act has no environmental impact.

What is important in this kind of agreement is public support. Concerning this reference, consultations on these initiatives indicate wide public support.

Several stakeholders have expressed their support for the withdrawal of land from Pacific Rim Park. Among these are the first nations involved, first nations provincial groups, local, regional and provincial levels of government, as well as non-government environmental organizations, for example, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Friends of Clayoquot Sound and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

All parties concerned view Esowista as a unique situation, and support the need to make sure that members of the community stay together, and to provide lands for residential and similar purposes.

I thank them for their support and I can reassure Canadians that the withdrawal of lands will be closely monitored to ensure the ecological integrity of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada.

As far as Mount Riding is concerned, a public advisory body on the implementation of the park master plan is made up of about 25 groups of stakeholders.

Since 1998, information on the return of these lands to the First Nation Ojibway Keeseekoowenin has been provided on a regular basis and the advisory body has been in favour of these activities.

One of the priorities in Parks Canada's recent ministerial plans has been to strengthen relations with native communities.

Strong community relations are the basis for a wide range of formal and informal agreements that can advance our common interests. The bill reflects this priority.

I am confident that this transfer of park lands will help meet the needs of treaty negotiations and will create a better working climate with both native communities.

I would like to warmly salute the Government of British Columbia for its support of this initiative regarding the expansion of Esowista. This collaboration is key to the withdrawal of lands from Pacific Rim and their transfer to the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs for the needs of Indian reserves.

I urge every member of the House to join me in supporting Bill C-28 so we can keep our commitments and improve the quality of life of aboriginal Canadians.

Short Film Month April 19th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, April is short film month at the Fernand-Séguin screening room of Cinémathèque québécoise. A selection of Quebec's best short films of last year are being shown there.

The short film has been a very fashionable format for some time. New digital technologies have had a profound impact on the popularity of this artistic genre and it did not take long for Quebec artists to grasp the potential of these new tools.

Short film month features documentary films and fiction from varying viewpoints and on topics ranging from ethics to the perception of reality.

The film library is also taking this opportunity to showcase the visionary Festival Regard sur le court métrage du Saguenay, which is regarded as a pioneer for having anticipated how important short film would become.

The Budget March 30th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. He talked about demonstrations. I know that Bloc Quebecois members are experts in organizing demonstrations.

I wanted to ask him if he thought there were any good measures in the budget. All that interests them is unemployment. Perhaps he would like all of Quebec to be unemployed, for purposes of a referendum.

He talked a lot about the employment insurance fund. But did he talk about the $31 billion drop in taxes, including $24 billion for middle-income families?

Did he talk about the lower premiums for workers and employers, which also account for a substantial amount: nearly $4 billion? A somewhat more global vision of the economy is needed.

He just mentioned research and development. Last year, Quebec received $330 million for the R and D sector. Let him come to my riding, and people will talk to him about research and development—

Questions on the Order Paper March 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

The Budget March 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the opposition is telling people all over the country, particularly my friends in the Bloc Quebecois, who are so delighted to be here in the Parliament of Canada, I must point out that one of the most important features of the latest budget is the $31 billion drop in taxes, including $24 billion in personal income tax.

In health, we have injected $2 billion. We are going to invest not 14¢, but close to 40¢ on each dollar.

As for the municipalities, the government has begun providing structural support through the GST rebate.

The Government of Quebec has been allocated $330 million for R and D and training.

One important aspect of the last budget—and I know this drives my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois a little crazy—relates to the social economy. This is a new initiative to provide support to all the stakeholders in the social economy. An amount of $160 million has been allocated to support—

The Acadians March 9th, 2004

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague. I think she was too concerned with preparing her response to listen to the comments I made for four minutes. The video has cost some $100,000 to produce, following a tendering process conducted in accordance with Treasury Board standards.

We say that an image is worth a thousand words, but an image is worth several trips. It is a working tool. If we want to compete with other nations everywhere in the world, we must be very well equipped.

I would like to repeat to my colleague that the video was produced following a tendering process conducted in accordance with Treasury Board standards and that we see it as an absolutely essential tool for the kind of promotion that the mission wanted to achieve.

I want to commend the minister on his very productive trip to three countries: South Korea, Japan and China. I think that a background video is a most logical choice to showcase all our resources and our most competitive elements.

The Acadians March 9th, 2004

Madam Speaker, what contributes to spread this negative culture are incorrect statements. I would like to provide some basic information on this issue.

The Minister of Finance, when he was the natural resources minister of Canada, led a mission to promote trade and investment in China, South Korea and Japan from January 22 to February 3, 2000. I will briefly report the facts. Then, we will talk about the money that was supposedly wasted, and you will see that I will be clear.

The purpose of this mission was to promote Canada's leadership and innovation, particularly in the natural resources sector. This mission helped to achieve many goals relating to this sector, which affects the live of all Canadians.

The mission responds particularly to the interests of the Canadian policy, especially with regard to market access, trade, regulatory reforms, sustainable development and climate changes.

This mission offered a great opportunity to expand the natural resources sector, which was already thriving. It opened doors to natural resources businesses so that they could enter the China market and expand into it, and it had many positive and sustainable results.

Since then, China has adopted new building codes to make them compatible with the construction of wood frame houses. This resulted in the opening of new markets for Canadian wood products.

Currently, Canadian geomatics and geoscience companies are active in China and provide useful data for the development of that country's natural resources.

In fact, the Chinese recognize Canada as a competitive and world-class provider of minerals and mining expertise.

I can never emphasize enough the fact that the current Minister of Finance did not hire a videographer to record this trade mission to China and that he was not accompanied by someone to produce this film during the mission.

In order to meet the objectives of this mission, the department prepared a video before the mission. That video did explain to Chinese audiences the purpose of the mission and the diversity and skills of Canada's natural resources sector.

The video, which was produced in three languages, that is Mandarin, English and French, was very well received. It proved very useful to overcome the language barrier, particularly since simultaneous translation was not always available.

The video's research and production work was done on a contract basis by an agency selected through a well-defined competitive bidding process. The video cost $115,000 to produce.

This was a worthwhile investment, as I am sure you will agree, since its goal was to promote Canada's natural resources sector in one of the fastest growing economic regions of the world and to contribute to the positive impact I just mentioned.

The video prepared for the mission was produced by the firm Allard et associés, through a strategic partnership with Columbia Group.

The world economy of the 21st century is characterized by tough competition for markets and investments. Canada needs to have access to foreign markets, foreign investments and new technologies to promote innovation and productivity, to create wealth and to meet the goals our nation has set for itself in terms of quality of life.

These types of missions lay the foundations that position our natural resources sector and related industries as key players in the new knowledge and innovation based economy, and ensure Canada a place of honour and influence among the great nations of the world.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act February 20th, 2004

The interests of Quebec start with the interests of our regions. That is what we are dealing with at present, and I am pleased that we are.

My congratulations to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also responsible for public security and emergency preparedness, and today has introduced an important bill on something that is rather fundamental to our country. I am referring to Bill C-19, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code. This bill provides a framework for federal correctional services and the conditional release system, a system, incidentally, which is recognized in a large number of countries.

This legislation is based on knowledge gleaned from research and on respect for the rule of law and human dignity. It recognizes that the best way to protect the public is to properly prepare offenders for their return to society as law-abiding citizens, and to closely monitor those offenders who pose a risk to the safety of our communities.

A parliamentary subcommittee conducted the mandatory review of this legislation in early 1999. The conclusions of this review are contained in a document entitled, “Towards a just, peaceful and safe society: The Corrections and Conditional Release Act five years later”. The subcommittee concluded that the legislation was of fundamental importance but that there is room for improvement, as with all legislation.

In short, the government, through the Deputy Prime Minister, was realistic. She has always been extremely rational in everything she handles in the House. Her approach is measured and very objective. As a result, the government can stay its course on important bills.

Bill C-19 includes provisions to act on 46 of the 53 recommendations made by the subcommittee and approved by the government. The introduction of this bill is proof of the government's desire to take the necessary steps to enhance public safety.

It is not true that our government will allow itself to be distracted by public reports that have yet to be fully verified. We will continue our program and stay the course. Members should remember what happened regarding HRDC: at first, it was $1 billion, and it ended up being $65,000.

I am eagerly awaiting the results of the procedures we now have in place to deal with the only issue that interests our political opponents and the Bloc Quebecois, namely the sponsorship issue. This issue has created a lot of fallout in all their ridings. They are taking advantage of it to make dramatic speeches, even before the House standing committee has studied the question, before the public inquiry has reported, and before the RCMP has finished its investigation.

I am very eager to see the final results on these questions. That is why, despite the diversion—particularly in Quebec, where it was created by our BQ opponents— we have a duty to stay focused on essential matters, including the environment, as we have this week, and on the question of measures respecting Bill C-19 which the minister has introduced today.

The major modifications and provisions are intended to tighten up the accelerated parole review process, which provides for parole based on an assumption of non-violent offenders serving a first federal sentence, as well as statutory release and enshrines the right of victims to present a statement at National Parole Board hearings.

The CCRA is the legal framework for the federal correctional system. Its purpose is to protect the public by providing a balance between control of, and assistance to, offenders, in order to help them reintegrate successfully in society as law-abiding citizens.

This bill addresses a number of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, as my hon. colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister, has said. It is an important step toward meeting the Government of Canada's commitment to continually improve the laws governing our correctional system.

I am very pleased to have been able to speak on this measure that will be constructive for all citizens of our country. I am very happy to be a part, along with our government, of maintaining our agenda in important sectors for the future of our country and of each of our regions. There is the whole social economy sector, as outlined in the Speech from the Throne. We have not heard much about that from our hon. friends in the Bloc Quebecois, because they lose interest when we are talking about constructive measures.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend prebudget consultations with my colleague, the Minister of State for Finance. Many people from the beautiful Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean area were there to talk about the budget and the social economy. Is there a more important sector in our community than that which affects the social economy? We still have not received a single question from our friends from the Bloc on this. Hundreds of thousands of people work voluntarily on initiatives that are extremely important for our fellow citizens and have even managed to gain financial success in what is considered a fragile sector.

We talked about factors such as research, social economy and partnerships with Canadian municipalities. All the municipalities in my region and in Quebec are very happy about our government's openness toward more direct funding for our municipalities. They have multiple roles to fill in order to make our fellow citizens even happier.

It is a great pleasure to take part in this debate, in support of the Deputy Prime Minister, who is launching a major offensive in a sector that is far from insignificant. I am very pleased.

I would hope for the cooperation of our opponents in this House to stay the course on implementing our initiatives, which are there to help make our fellow citizens even happier and make Canada one of the best countries in the world.