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 Budget February 26th, 2003

A Bloc member just told me to wait and see who will be elected during the next election. It is always a pleasure to run against the Bloc during election campaigns. The pleasure will be even greater since more and more Quebeckers are questioning the role of the Bloc Quebecois in the House of Commons.

The Budget February 26th, 2003

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for York West, who has done an absolutely amazing job on a caucus committee of bringing to the attention of the government and the Prime Minister how important municipal infrastructure is.

I heard my hon. colleague from the Canadian Alliance a few minutes ago. I think that our country is better than members of that party would have us believe. Had he spent time working in countries where misery abounds, he would better appreciate this country, which is sometimes a bit too easy-going to defend its initiatives.

When we consider our country's performance over the past few years, particularly during the past two years when international politics have been extremely troubling, some statistics bear repeating.

Canada had the best growth in 2002 of the G-7 countries, a performance that it is expected to repeat this year. Of the G-7 countries, the wealthiest countries in the world, Canada alone forecast a surplus for 2002-2003. We expect balanced budgets or a surplus for the next two years.

Some 560,000 jobs were created in 2002, the biggest 12-month increase, compared to the 229,000 jobs lost in the United States. The Americans are an important reference for the world. Given our performance, we have reason to be proud.

I am not saying that the budget is perfect. However, the budget has achieved an essential and extremely important balance between budgetary control, as there is still a modest but significant surplus, also forecast for next year, and important social initiatives.

Obviously, the provinces could be less critical. However, what I clearly understand—especially the criticisms from the Bloc Quebecois—and what is of primary interest to my hon. Bloc colleagues, are the transfer payments. Their goal is to get rid of Canada. They want transfer payments for labour force training, which have been provided for the past few years. These amount to $600 million per year.

Before, the Canadian government had a program for manpower training, which was greatly appreciated in all of our ridings. In 1996 we agreed to its transfer, and new programs were created. Emploi Québec was created. Many people have expressed the opinion to me that the federal government's pulling out of manpower training programs was pretty much of a mistake.

Just look at the municipalities, the NGOs, the rural municipalities in Quebec in particular, where the Canadian government had 1,100 employees involved in manpower development. This was thought of as transfers of funds. But the only purpose the Bloc Quebecois representatives had in mind was to get the federal, the Canadian, government, to hand over the funds, with the hidden agenda of eliminating the Canadian government's presence as much as possible.

Obviously, this is not a view I share. This is the pet theory of a Quebecker whose constantly refrain was, “Dump the blame on the feds all the time. Say everything is their fault”.

I recall the situation with health when the Bloc managed to create a consensus with the PQ in Quebec to the effect that “the Canadian government puts in a mere 14¢ on the dollar”. That is absolutely false. It has been said, and it has been written, but the truth needs to be revealed. It is not easy to do so. The reality is that, prior to this last budget, the Canadian government invested 40¢ on the dollar, not 14¢. That was before the announcements in the budget.

All in all, it is important to say that, while not perfect, the Canadian government has brought down a budget on which I congratulate the Minister of Finance, and of course the Prime Minister, who is primarily responsible for all budget decisions. It is important to point that out.

We keep hearing that the budget is doing nothing for the provinces. The fact is that in excess of 50% of budget commitments will go into the provincial treasuries. One can therefore not say that the Canadian government did not make any effort to improve the services provided by the various provincial governments.

For health care, it will be $35 billion. The accord provides for $16 billion over five years for the health care reform that will take place in the provinces and territories and target primary care, home care, which is extremely important, and drugs, whose costs are prohibitive.

Over five years, $9.5 billion will go to increasing cash transfers to the provinces and territories. There will be an immediate investment of $2.5 billion as part of the Canada health and social transfer. We will be providing $1.5 billion over three years to improve access to public diagnostic services; $1.3 billion over five years to support health care programs for the first nations; $600 million to speed up the implementation of a national system of electronic health files; and $500 million for research hospitals, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

In the area of health, the Government of Canada has proven that it is listening to Canadians. It is not the fault of the federal government that some provinces, particularly Quebec, have forced thousands of nurses and specialists into retirement. That is not the fault of the federal government. We are making a massive contribution, covering 40 to 50% of health care costs, not 14% as the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois say.

Our country deserves to be told the truth. We may not be perfect, but we are leading the world in economic performance. We can take some criticism, but such falsehoods cannot be repeated over and over. That is what the latest budget allows us to show. We are doing more, even considering that we were already doing a lot in major areas.

For families, the budget includes an increase of $965 million for the national child benefit supplement; there is $935 million to help the provinces improve access to quality day care services, and $50 million per year in a new benefit for children with disabilities. That is significant.

We do not expect the Government of Quebec to shout this from the rooftops, but these are funds that, for the most part, will be transferred to provincial initiatives. Facts are facts. It is impossible that there is nothing good in the budget.

The Budget February 25th, 2003

Madam Speaker, first, I want to congratulate my hon. colleague for Davenport for his extremely important contribution of many decades to environmental issues. Our hon. colleague did not wait for us to experience the consequences of our abuse of the planet before speaking out. I want to pay tribute to him.

I would also like to take advantage of his expertise to ask him if my perception of the consequences of Kyoto are correct. I think that, ten years from now, we will reach and even greatly surpass Kyoto objectives, in view of what we are seeing now, particularly in the auto industry, where there is a demand to increase use of fuels other than those currently available.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague if he feels quite optimistic about reaching and, I hope, greatly surpassing Kyoto objectives.

Peace February 25th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, students from École polyvalente Charles-Gravel and École Dominique-Racine, as well as representatives of Bleuets pour la paix, came to my office to deliver petitions for peace. These petitions contain several thousand signatures.

We were able to discuss how important it is for the current negotiations and the work of the United Nations weapons inspectors to be successful. We reached the obvious conclusion that if there is to be peace, both parties must want it.

So, I will have an opportunity to present the Prime Minister with the numerous petitions that I received.

The Budget February 19th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, allow me to congratulate my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, for the exceptional work that he has done to ensure that the requests made by our caucus, regarding important sectors, be transmitted to the Minister of Finance. I am thinking, among others, of health, initiatives on infrastructure, and research and development. My colleague has worked extremely hard to promote, among other things, progressive measures for families.

However, I would like to give an opportunity to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance to dispel a myth that is currently going around in this country and which is called the fiscal imbalance. I am convinced—and the figures support this view—that the fiscal imbalance in Canada is to the provinces' advantage. Think about social transfers, equalization payments, tax points and government initiatives in critical areas of research and economic development.

I would like therefore to give my colleague an opportunity to dispel the myth to the effect that, in Canada, there is fiscal imbalance between the provinces and the Canadian government. Personally, I think that fiscal imbalance exists between the provinces and the regions, between the provinces and the municipalities. That is where the main problem lies.

The Budget February 19th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of respect for my colleague, but I find that it makes little sense to state here in this House—and not just once, moreover—that the Canadian government is only investing 14¢ in the health sector.

The figure prior to the last budget commitment of $35 billion was 40¢, which means that the Canadian government's commitments to health range between 45¢ and 50¢ for each dollar invested.

I would therefore like to ask my colleague whether he is prepared to rectify his statement. I do not believe in all this talk about a great Quebec consensus; we have heard all of this before.

I recall the debates on the young offenders act. It was the end of the world; and yet, once the act had been passed, Quebec got millions of dollars out of it to administer its system.

Then there was the great Quebec consensus on manpower training. Just go ask the rural municipalities and the clients whether they miss having the Canadian government's involvement in manpower training.

I would ask the hon. member this one thing: is he prepared to withdraw his statement to the effect that the Government of Canada is only investing 14¢ per dollar in health? I know that this is wrong.

Supply February 10th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a brief comment. I think that everyone agrees on the importance of the role played by the United Nations.

In all the debates since this morning, there was a tendency to adopt an anti-American attitude, which is a very shallow thing to do. Events occurred, and I am thinking of the former Yugoslavia where intervention was not quick enough.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague, whom I wish to congratulate, a quick question. This is one of the first times he has risen in the House to speak.

Does he think that deploying American and British troops will have an impact on the effectiveness of the inspectors? I would like to try to strike a balance.

The role Americans have played for many decades in the preservation of freedom is considered quite constructive. In this respect, would the inspectors better assume their role if the Americans had not deployed troops to the Persian Gulf? The figure is 150,000 troops.

International Development Week February 7th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, as part of the activities for International Development Week 2003, the Minister for International Cooperation launched a national contest for young people between the ages of 14 and 18, sponsored by CIDA and called Butterfly 208.

This contest gives young people the chance to think about ways to do something about poverty and injustice in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Yesterday, roughly one hundred Ottawa school children took part in a forum to launch the contest, which young people everywhere are strongly encouraged to participate in. They can submit an essay or an art entry on themes such as child protection, AIDS awareness, or education.

I invite all Canadians to encourage young people they know to participate in Butterfly 208 and help change the lives of others for the better.

Alumiform February 5th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, on Friday the Secretary of State for the Economic Development Agency of Canada announced a major financial contribution of nearly $3 million for Alumiform, a small business in Chicoutimi that specializes in aluminum processing.

Alumiform hopes to use this money to tap into a future of great opportunities in foreign markets, especially the American and European markets.

The Canadian government's participation in this project is important, given the major impact it will have on the local economy. The Alumiform project will consolidate the 40 current jobs and create 80 new jobs.

This is another example of how the Canadian government helps in developing the regional economies of our country.

International Development Week February 4th, 2003

Mr. Speaker, February 2 to 8 is International Development Week 2003. The theme of this week is “Celebrating Canadians Making a Difference in the World”.

Today the Minister for International Cooperation marked International Development Week by presenting the Bill McWhinney Award of Excellence to the Prince Edward Island chapter of Farmers Helping Farmers.

This group brings together 50 Canadian volunteers who work together with farmers from Kenya and Tanzania to improve the rural economies in those countries. Their work and the work of many other Canadians deserves our recognition because, for more than 50 years, they have been supporting the development of the most disadvantaged countries and communities in the world.

I invite all Canadians to take advantage of International Development Week to learn more about the life of people who live in developing nations and to applaud Canadians who work to make our world safer, fairer and more prosperous.