Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was city.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Bloc MP for Louis-Hébert (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 34% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Drinking Water June 15th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to announce to the House the creation of a drinking water research chair at Laval University.

Thanks to a funding agreement with the city of Quebec, this chair will be able to carry out research on water supply, treatment and distribution, as well as developing new tools to improve the management of this vital resource.

I am extremely pleased with this agreement, which will provide Quebec City with local expertise that will allow it to remain on the leading edge of technology and knowledge in all aspects relating to drinking water.

The Bloc Québécois congratulates Quebec City and Laval University for the creation of this research chair, which will once again contribute to making Quebec one of the world's leaders in drinking water management.

Supply May 18th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I thank the minister for his response. He made a distinction between the money and the integration programs. I just have the following question: could he explain why such a small amount of money was allocated for the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program?

The amount that was just announced was $20 million a year, not for Quebec, but for all of Canada. It is a big country with many provinces. The minister himself said that integration was a federal responsibility. That is not a lot of money, $20 million, for all these provinces in this very large country called Canada. I want to know if the minister can explain this measly amount.

Supply May 18th, 2005

Mr. Chair, the next question is an obvious one: how can such a policy be reconciled with section 25 of the Canada-Quebec accord, which is well known and well read? This accord states, “Canada undertakes to withdraw from specialized economic integration services to be provided by Québec—”. The Bloc Québécois' researchers are not the ones saying this; section 25 of the Canada-Quebec accord is. It stipulates that “Canada undertakes to withdraw from services”. How can anyone reconcile such a policy with section 25?

Supply May 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the other side is talking about balkanization. I will ask the question differently: Is the government trying to tell us that its interference in discussions between the professional associations and the provinces is not slowing down negotiations in all provinces?

The other side must admit that the federal government does not have the same expertise—and I am not trying to be mean—it does not have the same competence as the provinces, which, for years, have been working on the recognition of foreign credentials.

Is the parliamentary secretary opposite telling us that the federal government is better than the provinces at something they clearly excel at, the recognition of foreign credentials?

Supply May 18th, 2005

Undeniably, it is Canada.

My colleague should be familiar enough with sections 92 and 93 of “her” Canada. The Constitution Act, 1867, clearly grants—and no one will contest this—exclusive jurisdiction—and I am not saying all combined—for professional bodies to the provinces. That is the law of “her” Canada, as the member should know.

Why is the government interfering in an area of jurisdiction clearly defined in “her” country's Constitution?

Supply May 18th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague for trying to remind us that obviously she is referring to Canada.

Supply May 18th, 2005

Mr. Chair, I am extremely pleased to be able to take part in this committee of the whole examination of the Citizenship and Immigration estimates. My feelings are, however, somewhat mixed: pleasure and pride, but mixed with sadness too. I will explain.

I like this format very much. No confrontation, rather like the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. At least most of the time we strive for that. We work in a non-partisan atmosphere. Regardless of the country chosen, be it Quebec or be it Canada, we can readily agree on one thing: newcomers, the immigrants who make up the fabric of a country, are essential.

I am pleased we can participate in this discussion and exchange views despite our differences. We will agree, or we will disagree, but we will in the end perhaps make more progress than is made with the usual approach to discussions in this House, where there is so much name-calling and we often get nowhere.

So I am pleased to take part in this debate because immigration is so important to me. The primary reason for my involvement in politics is immigration, the people I have seen arrive from other countries, who have chosen a new destination with the hope of being able to live there, who are anxious to do so, but who are often disappointed. They are not disappointed because someone has maliciously decided to make Canada's immigration system a deliberate obstacle to their integration or a threat to their integrity. That is not the way it happens.

I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration for nearly a year now, and I realize what a huge maze the department is, and how people's good intentions can get lost in that maze. People with every good intention on arrival, find themselves driving taxis and do not understand why, when they were engineers back home. Why? Because suddenly their qualifications are not recognized here. Is this done with malicious intent? Rarely, if ever. Yet the result is the same.

Finally, people leave their countries and come here hoping for a new beginning. In the case of refugees, it is sad. The minister is well aware of it. He and I and colleagues working on the committee see some sad cases. We see people who simply want things we consider essential, like seeing a brother or sister again. They are not entitled to do so.

I also feel some sadness at having to intervene in this debate, because I believe, and people will agree—the minister himself will acknowledge it—immigration should come under provincial jurisdiction. This is my point. Obviously, we have not got there yet. And so my intervention will serve to point out the intrusions into areas of Quebec's jurisdiction.

In fact, we are not privileged to have this exclusive jurisdiction, far from it. Instead, we have the Canada-Quebec agreement concluded in 1991. I say instead, because that would change things a lot.

What concerns me especially are all these government initiatives relating to the budget, the votes we are studying, which reach far beyond federal jurisdictions. Strictly speaking, once again, it is an area Quebec considers the federal government has no business in.This is not its area.

I have a number of reservations to express to the minister with respect to the recognition of foreign credentials. We have lab technicians coming from countries where they are fully qualified. I think people on the committee recognized it a number of times. We are back from a Canadian tour, where we heard from witnesses. We heard it in Regina, Calgary, Winnipeg and Quebec City. The phenomenon is the same. Recognition of foreign credentials is not working.

At the provincial level, work is already underway with professional bodies. It makes sense to recognize that the provinces are in the best position to deal with the work done by professional bodies.

In all honesty and with due respect to the minister, things are muddled in the department. I think that, if he stays there long enough, things might become a little clearer. As he said earlier, the lifespan of a minister at Citizenship and Immigration is short. We have already had two ministers. I hope we can count on an incumbent who stays long enough to improve people's fate.

Over the past several years, Quebec and other provinces have developed the expertise needed to appropriately recognize foreign credentials, since this varies from one province to another. The requirements for a skilled tradesperson are not the same in Ontario as they are in Quebec, nor are they the same in Saskatchewan as they are in Manitoba.

I wonder—with all due respect for the minister—why the federal government is interfering in an area of provincial jurisdiction, especially one that has to do with training people and assessing their training.

I find, and I am sure I am not alone, that the business of supply for Citizenship and Immigration Canada involves more than just rearranging some figures. This is not about figures, it is about human beings. We realized this when we were touring and we realize this every day.

From the outside looking in it seems as though we are only concerned with figures: we need this many refugees and that many new arrivals. However, we are dealing with men and women who chose a country. We may not agree on the name of the country they chose. I would say Quebec, others would say Canada, but they chose a new country to live in as free and proud people.

I have a question I would like to ask first and then I will follow it up with a few more. I think that is more or less the format we will use.

Why does the government absolutely insist on causing headaches for the provinces, on provoking disputes in the courts, on wasting time and energy interfering—once again—in a process that is working just fine? It may not be perfect, but it works. Why does the government absolutely insist on entering into an area that belongs to the provinces?

Taiwan Affairs Act May 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I thank the colleagues who have just spoken on Bill C-357, both the hon. member for Victoria and the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia, the bill's sponsor. This is the first hour of debate at second reading. It is a pleasure for me, as the Bloc's critic for the Asia-Pacific region, to speak on this bill.

Bill C-357 provides an improved framework for economic, trade and cultural initiatives between Canada and Taiwan. Before indicating whether the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of this bill and whether it can be referred to committee, just to keep everyone guessing, I want to provide some context essential to understanding this issue.

In this regard, the Bloc Québécois wants to acknowledge Taiwan's obvious economic and political progress. No one will deny that, not even the People's Republic of China. Undeniably, Taiwan is now a free, democratic and, above all, prosperous country. It is clearly a model for the entire Asia-Pacific region.

It is interesting to note that Quebec maintains close and friendly cultural and economic ties with Taiwan. Between 2001 and 2002 alone, Quebec exports to Taiwan increased by 17%, to a noteworthy $134 million. Quebeckers are happy to have access to Taiwanese products, such as computers and semi-conductors. In exchange, the Taiwanese benefit from imports of reliable Quebec products, such as wood pulp, telecommunications equipment and iron ore, to name just a few.

I would also add that university and cultural exchanges between Quebec and Taiwan have been extremely successful. In the riding of Louis-Hébert, which I have the pleasure of representing in the House, Université Laval has extremely close ties with Taiwan. These exchanges will continue. Even some colleges maintain similar relations, with both Taiwan and China.

I would, moreover, emphasize that Quebec's relationship with Taiwan cannot in any way have a negative impact on the deep friendship and attachment Quebec feels for the People's Republic of China. I had the pleasure of working there for two years. Contacts between Quebec and the People's Republic of China have been constantly increasing for over 30 years now. There have been visits by senior officials, agreements have been signed and major trade exchanges have taken place, all of which are evidence of our ongoing good faith and good will.

As for Quebec's exports to Chine, these have increased by leaps and bounds in recent years. I have some interesting figures here also. From its level of $318 million in the year 2000, the value of Quebec's exports to China increased by 117% to some $700 million in 2002. There is nothing to indicate a decrease. Among the Quebec products of most interest to the People's Republic of China are aircraft and aircraft parts, pulp and paper and inorganic chemicals. I list these as evidence that there can continue to be very good trade relations Quebec and the People's Republic of China, and between Quebec and Taiwan. Quebec's importation of Chinese products in 2002 was not negligible either, at about $3.4 billion.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that educational exchanges between Quebec and China are also very important. Universities and colleges, Quebec's in particular, have very active relationships with China. Close to a thousand Chinese students come to Quebec every year to study.

Now back to Taiwan, since this bill deals primarily with Quebec's and Canada's relations with Taiwan.

The Bloc Québécois feels the need to support the principle of this bill because of the friendship and ties that exist between Quebec and Taiwan. In particularly, we unreservedly support its underlying principles: peace and security in the Asia Pacific region.

We in the Bloc Québécois believe that the resolution of the dispute between China and Taiwan should be peaceful and negotiated by the two parties. Nothing in this bill would lead us to think such a resolution might not be possible.

This bill should not be seen as meddling or trying to disturb a situation in sometimes precarious equilibrium—no point in beating around the bush—but rather as a means to strengthening economic, trade and cultural ties between Taiwan and Canada. Who could dispute that?

We in the Bloc have, of course, found a few shortcomings after analyzing the bill. We will thus mention a few reservations we have with respect to the bill in due course, when the bill is being considered in committee. However, at this stage of debate, two things about the bill should be mentioned, which will, in our opinion, help improve bilateral relations between Canada and Taiwan and international relations generally between Canada and other Asian countries.

First, the Bloc Québécois supports Taiwan's participation as an observer at certain international organizations. Currently, it is excluded—and we heard this again this morning— from participation in international organizations such as the World Health Organization. These organizations are technical rather than political in nature, even though their political scope is somewhat limited. We need only consider how the SARS epidemic could have been different had Taiwan had observer status with WHO. Things would have been simpler for everyone, because Taiwan could then have taken part in the organization's deliberations.

We in the Bloc Québécois also note the pacifist tone of Bill C-357. We would point out that the dispute between Taiwan and mainland China will not be resolved with prayers. It will take a disarmament agreement in the case of geographic areas of potential confrontation. No one is fooled and no one forgets the constant threat. We belive that relations between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan can improve only through dialogue and diplomacy.

We in the Bloc Québécois reiterate our affection for and great friendship with both the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. We think that a peaceful settlement of the disputes will lead to a valuable solution.

In summary, the Bloc Québécois supports this bill in principle for the following reasons. First, it will strengthen economic, trade and cultural relations between Quebec, Canada and Taiwan. The Bloc also supports Taiwan's participation in certain international organizations. The conditions for its participation can be discussed and decisions made on a case-by-case basis. Regarding the International Civil Aviation Organization for instance, major legal tangles could ensue if Taiwan's participation in that organization were not recognized de facto. Allowing Taiwan to act as an observer in major international forums will facilitate communication.

I want to refer again to the bill's pacifist tone; it does speak of disarmament and dialogue. We all agree with that. Besides, and this may be the bill's greatest strength, there is hardly any diplomatic risk involved since this bill is modelled after a 1979 U.S. bill maintaining the status quo to preserve friendly relations with both Taiwan and China.

Thus, we want to restate our feelings of friendship not only for the Chinese people, with whom we will continue to do business, of course, but also for the Taiwanese people. We believe that we must continue in this direction.

In conclusion, for all the reasons I just stated, the Bloc Québécois supports referring Bill C-357 to committee for further study, and we support the principle of this bill.

Maison Michel-Sarrazin May 5th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, on the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Maison Michel-Sarrazin, I want to pay tribute to its founders, the late Dr. Jean-Louis Bonenfant and oncologist Dr. Louis Dionne and his wife, Claudette Gagnon.

The Maison Michel-Sarrazin named for the first surgeon of the king of New France, was the first of its kind in Canada. It welcomes terminal cancer patients and accompanies them in their final days surrounded by the beauty of the setting and the love of the 80 staff members, 350 volunteers and family members.

Quebec now has 15 such hospices sharing the mission of the Maison Michel-Sarrazin.

Congratulations to Dr. Dionne and Ms. Gagnon. Their courage and determination have been vital in the establishment of their peaceful haven for those who are dying.

Many many thanks to the staff and the volunteers, because, without them, the wonderful mission of the Maison Michel-Sarrazin could not be achieved.

The Bloc Québécois congratulates the founders of the Maison Michel-Sarrazin on their great generosity.

Committees of the House May 4th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I want to point out the exceptional work done by my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île and other hon. members who worked on the Burma file.

I found her intervention most interesting, because it reminds us of the very fundamentals of some parts of the world where extreme violations are taking place. This has been made amply clear in the case of Burma.

As critic for the Asia-Pacific region and member for Louis-Hébert, I am especially interested in this matter as are other parliamentarians. The economic aspect is of great concern to us.

Some countries in that part of the world still trade with the junta in Burma. China, in particular, continues to do business despite the situation.

As you know, Burma stopped publishing figures in 2000. No accounting or budgets have been produced. The situation may in fact be even worse than we currently think.

My question is for my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île. Could the means the Government of Canada might use to impose stronger measures on the Burmese authorities result in greater pressure on the military junta to recognize the forces of democracy in Burma? Is this the route to take?