Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was forces.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Compton—Stanstead (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 22% of the vote.

Statements in the House

National Defence June 6th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, senior Canadian air force officers have spoken out about the Prime Minister's decision to deploy combat aircraft to Kosovo. While our aircrews performed admirably, these very experienced officers complain of the lack of adequate equipment which put our air force personnel at extra risk and of burnout. That was because of political decisions to understaff our ground crew.

Would the Minister of National Defence explain why he allowed the PMO to make this decision when clearly they were not properly equipped for the job at hand?

Immigration June 5th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday in the House two hon. members of the Canadian Alliance confidently outlined their party's immigration policy.

In referring to the type of immigration system, the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain said, “We want the system we had in the last century that brought people into the country. We had no immigration problems with law. We had no immigration problems with unemployment”.

Here is the immigration system we had in place in the last century. A head tax was placed on Chinese nationals. Parliament passed legislation which prohibited all Chinese from voting even if they were Canadian citizens. Finally, restrictions were placed on the number of Chinese and East Indians coming to Canada.

These were not the only such remarks made. The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands said that the real problem in the immigration department is the refugees who arrive in Canada. He further stated that we were doing these refugees a service by sending them back.

I would like to thank the hon. members for clearly explaining the Canadian Alliance's racist and discriminatory policy on immigration and refugees.

National Defence May 18th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, that is very strange. Our information says it seems that the Cougar II may come with a promise of a Daimler-Chrysler plant, probably in Shawinigan. A more interesting angle is that this deal may also come with a promise of neutrality from the French government in the next Quebec referendum.

Will the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister assure the House that a competition to replace the Sea Kings will be fair, open, public and in accordance with the approved statement of operational requirement?

National Defence May 18th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, we have learned that, when the Prime Minister visits France, he will be discussing a directed contract for replacement of the Sea Kings.

He will be meeting with representatives of the French government and of Aérospatiale and Daimler Chrysler.

My question is for the Minister of National Defence. Is the government planning a directed contract to purchase in France the Eurocopter Cougar 2 as a replacement for the Sea Kings?

Citizenship Of Canada Act May 17th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I think that is very easy to say and the member for Lakeland said it himself. He said that in both letters that he had the people understood. I do not think that is very clear, which is part of the problem. If we look at all the others who did not agree with the motion, the Canadian Jewish Congress being one, the minister has first say on it, yes, but then it does go through the court system. The other way, it goes through the court system first. It has to go all the way through the court system and then the minister has the say at the end.

That is not the logical way. I have no comfort with that part at all. I have no problem dealing with it as it is now.

Citizenship Of Canada Act May 17th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Saint John.

I am pleased again to speak to Bill C-16, the citizenship of Canada act. We had 23 amendments before us last night in the House, which familiarized many of the members with the issues in this bill. I hope to speak about some of the amendments that we voted for plus, of course, Motions Nos. 4 and 5, the controversy over revocation. I will speak about the positive points in the bill as well as some of the areas this party is concerned with.

If there is an active department in the government these days, it would be the Department of Citizenship and Immigration. There are presently two bills before parliament, this one and Bill C-31, the immigration and refugee protection act. It is worrisome to note that the present acts, with the exception of a few amendments, date from the late 1970s. These pieces of legislation should have been updated prior to now.

As I stated in my first speech on Bill C-16, the importance of citizenship cannot be questioned. It allows for the ultimate sense of belonging, belonging to a state, a society. Human beings have a need to be accepted and recognized.

The importance of citizenship was not lost on the over 1,000 delegates who attended the Progressive Conservative National Policy Conference in Quebec City. Our policy task force travelled across Canada gathering views from over 23,000 Canadians. Our party and its members realize that Canada was built on immigration, from which citizenship naturally follows.

One of our guiding principles is:

Citizenship is a very sacred status, which places duties and responsibilities on every Canadian to safeguard the integrity of Canada and to uphold the values and institutions of the nation as enshrined in the Constitution and laws of Canada.

When in government, our party took this seriously. That is obvious by the significant increases in immigration numbers we accepted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Numbers prove the benefits immigration and citizenship bring. One recent study has found new immigrants have accounted for more than half of Canada's population growth and 70% of the growth in our labour force. This is not insignificant.

The minister introduced Bill C-16 in November of last year. The minister seems to adhere to our principle of the sacredness of citizenship. Overall, Bill C-16 should maintain the integrity of Canadian citizenship. I am glad the minister has borne in mind the importance of citizenship. I hope the bill is effective but it is certainly not perfect. I wish to speak about some of the drawbacks we do have with the bill.

I am pleased that the minister incorporated many of the recommendations of the standing committee which were done last spring when Bill C-16 was then called Bill C-63.

One example is residency requirements. The committee recommended that a person be physically present in Canada for three out of six years instead of three out of five. I hope the minister continues to seek advice from the committee as the new immigration bill is deliberated and makes its way through parliament.

One area of concern for this party is proof of residency. An individual must be a permanent resident in Canada for three out of six years or 1,095 days. Naturally a person must be able to prove that he or she has been in the country for that period of time. We do not have exit controls in this country, and considering that we have a border that is very long, such controls would be difficult if not impossible.

This also raises the question of individual rights and privacy from the state. When we learned in the news today, and we talked about it in the House, that the government has detailed information on all Canadians, this does cause concern. In any case, exit controls will not be here any time soon.

However, the question remains: How will citizenship officials determine whether or not an individual has met his or her residency requirements? The answer we were given was “cheques, receipts and utility bills”. This simply does not suffice. We must attempt to root out fraud and falsification wherever possible. While most individuals may be honest and provide accurate information, some do not, and no promise is offered in this bill to check the information provided.

Appointments at Citizenship and Immigration Canada have caused concern for quite some time. This party wishes to ensure that competent, able officials are named to positions within the department. This party fought on this in the last election and we have been unwavering ever since.

In last night's motions, the governing party voted against any intent to ensure that competent individuals be appointed at Citizenship and Immigration Canada. It is interesting to note also that the first party even voted against Motion No. 7. The motion stated that no one would be appointed as a citizenship commissioner if that individual had been convicted of an offence under sections 39 and 40 of the bill. I find it intriguing, if not disturbing, that the governing party would not see fit to accept this motion. Indeed, I now really worry about the kinds of appointments that will take place in Citizenship and Immigration.

One area of controversy with this bill has been the revocation of citizenship. Revocation of citizenship is no small matter. It is very serious. This issue has attracted a lot of attention recently, especially since the parliamentary secretary voted against his own government and then resigned from the position.

This party is comfortable with the provisions that are in the new legislation. If a revocation occurs, the individual is free to appeal all the way to the supreme court. On the other hand, our parliamentary traditions are respected. We feel an individual's rights in dealing with the state will be protected.

As I said at the outset, this is a busy time for Citizenship and Immigration. We have been dealing with two pieces of legislation making their way through the House and through committee. Citizenship and immigration go hand in hand. Citizenship is dependent on immigration, so it is hard to discuss one without discussing the other. If it were not for immigration, there would not be much need for citizenship, so allow me to address a couple of issues in immigration.

The need for a new immigration bill has been known for quite some time also. It is something we should have looked at a long time ago. There are serious issues around immigration. The Canadian public seldom receive assurances that criminals are being kept out of the country. Border control is an issue. Newspaper articles just a couple of weeks ago were talking about more undocumented arrivals from China. One article said that we could possibly expect another 1,200 arrivals by boat on the west coast.

I realize that in the new immigration bill, the minister has raised fines and penalties and is trying to secure better relations in these matters with China. Fines and punishment work well, but there is only one problem: A lack of both human and financial resources means these people are not being caught. CIC officials are strapped as it is. Now, with added pressures to recognize and catch criminals, it will be very difficult. I hope the government has acknowledged the predictions of more arrivals and has a sufficient contingency plan in place.

I can speak with some experience about our border officials. I have seven border crossings in my riding and these crossings are understaffed. Officers work alone and unarmed. How are they supposed to handle potential security threats to themselves or the country? Furthermore, these officials do not have the training in immigration matters required to deal with the technical refugee or immigration cases.

The department will receive increased funding over the next few years but I do not think much will be left for enforcement. A lot of money has been spent already and desperately needed new computer systems will cost over $200 million. Add to this the deficiencies the auditor general highlighted in his report last month with regard to medical and criminal records, and we find a department that is totally strapped.

The minister must address these issues. I am not satisfied that Bill C-31 will do that. There are no guarantees for continuing funding and no commitment to take photos and fingerprints of new arrivals to Canada.

To come back to Bill C-16, this party will be supporting the bill. We are content that the minister took the views of the committee into account last year. As I did say there are a few problem areas and we will be watching carefully to ensure that citizenship is kept sacred.

National Defence May 11th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence has just said that he will put up the safety record of the Sea Kings to the transportation safety board any time. Could the minister please table that? We would love to see it so that all Canadians can compare the safety of our soldiers to the safety of the general public.

Citizenship Of Canada Act May 11th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Group No. 4 of amendments to Bill C-16.

I will first talk about Motion No. 9 by the member for Rosemont. He will perhaps find this a bit surprising, but I agree with much of what he is proposing, although I think that the citizenship ceremony is perhaps not the right time for these documents to be given out. This should be done long before.

In his motion, the members asks to have new citizens given:

(i) the Charter of the French Language;

(ii) the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms;

(iii) the Election Act;

(iv) the Declaration by the Government of Quebec on Ethnic and Race Relations...

These are documents it would be appropriate to give to people coming to Quebec. I would go even further and say that this would be useful for any province. However, we are talking about Quebec here. I think that people arriving in Quebec as immigrants should get all these documents. I think they already do, but they should at least be aware of them and their content.

From the time they applied for citizenship, seven years have passed, on average. This is why I think it is a bit late for them to be getting these documents at that point.

As a party, we must unfortunately vote against this motion.

The member for Rosemont also talks of having a representative of the Province of Quebec at the swearing in ceremony, but his presence must not be vital to the holding of the ceremony.

I know that a number of MPs do not attend swearing in ceremonies. I think that it should be important, even a duty. I attend these ceremonies myself at least once a year, and I then send letters of congratulations to all new citizens in my riding.

I would like to talk about Motion No. 23 presented by the hon. member for Wentworth—Burlington. I definitely have a problem with this motion. I cannot support it and our party will not support it. It is certainly not because I am or am not a monarchist, which is what I will touch on first.

If we were going to get into changing anything as significant as this, we would have to change our constitution first. The Queen is still in the constitution and until we make a major change in it we cannot remove that from the oath. The member talked about different oppressed countries where royalty is feared but it goes a lot further than royalty. It can also extend to politicians and people's fear of them. We have to be careful about how far we go on that.

He referred to a people united by God. I have no problem saying that I am a Christian and I strongly believe in God. But in this day and age, with all the different religions in Canada, I feel we are putting them totally aside by adding that type of phrase to the oath. Because of that, there is no way I can support that.

The other points the member made about the oath are very interesting. I think they are nice, but we have to stick with certain parts of this right now that are already there and a part of a constitution. Therefore, we will be voting against this motion.

Citizenship Of Canada Act May 11th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today to speak to the Group No. 3 amendments to Bill C-16, the citizenship bill.

Motion No. 6 refers to the review committee and the appointment by the governor in council of retired judges. The amendment asks that opposition parties have a real say. In other words, the opposition parties should have the chance to consent, not simply for the government to consult them, as happens most of the time. We hear about what is going on, but in the end it ends up being a partisan appointment, hopefully of a qualified person, but that is not always the case.

Granted this position will be rarely used, since it would only be in the case where the review committee cannot come to a decision. I will be supporting this motion.

Motion No. 7, concerning clause 31, is an amendment that is totally logical. It states:

“(1.1) The Governor in Council shall not appoint a person who has been convicted of an offence under section 39 or 40 as a Citizenship Commissioner.”

It seems so logical that I wonder why it has to be there. However, with the cases we have seen in the past it is probably a good idea.

Motion No. 8, referring to clause 32, is again an amendment that would give some input to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. In a good democracy that is the way it should be.

Motions Nos. 15 to 20, referring to clause 43, would bring the work on regulations back to the committee and the House. I agree, and that should be adopted also.

Motion No. 21 comes back to what all opposition parties have been saying probably forever, that the committees concerned should have a real and positive input, especially after all the time that is spent in committees reviewing, interviewing witnesses and doing their best to get the views of ordinary Canadians. The committees have to be more involved.

I will be supporting all of the motions in Group No. 3.

National Defence May 9th, 2000

Mr. Speaker, that is strange. We have a mother calling saying that her son has it. Also the war in Kosovo has given rise to outbreaks of many other diseases such as TB, of course. These diseases have been kind of forgotten by Canadians. Therefore they are not being immunized for them.

Our soldiers on the ground in Kosovo are being exposed to these diseases. What exactly has been done to protect them in theatre?