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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Papineau (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 38% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Vietnam June 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister just said yes in English. His response was quite clear to me. I can confirm that this morning I had the opportunity to meet with the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, and we raised these extremely important issues of freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

I know that the Prime Minister will have the opportunity to raise these issues with his counterpart, the Prime Minister of Vietnam, this afternoon during our other meetings with this country, with which we have a good bilateral relationship. We work with this country in ASEAN and APEC. It is important that we remain committed to them.

Foreign Affairs June 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about deeper integration here. We are talking about working with our neighbours, the United States and Mexico.

This partnership is about a follow up to the three leaders' meeting a few months ago. I am very pleased with the progress we are making in this partnership with the Mexicans and the Americans to not only ensure we respect the workers of our respective countries but to ensure we have a competitive economy in which we continue to create good and great jobs for our people.

Canada-U.S. Relations June 27th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, we have been working with the United States for some time to ensure we have the best possible border between Canada and the United States and the best possible North American regulation systems respecting our identities and our own different ways of doing things. However we also want to ensure they are compatible and are easily making our continent more and more prosperous.

There are challenges out there. There are challenges in Asia and in South America. It is imperative that North America remain the most competitive continent on the planet.

Devils Lake Diversion Project June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the member for Winnipeg Centre is absolutely right. It is important that, in Washington and in North Dakota, we register that the House of Commons is absolutely serious about the discussions that are ongoing with the White House at this time.

We do not want this outlet be opened before we have made progress on a scientific basis. My colleague, the Minister of the Environment who will be following me, will be developing these elements that are so important to us.

The House can count on us. I agree that it is the 11th hour. We must ensure that we succeed in delaying the opening of the outlet until we have all of the guarantees and the appropriate tools to protect our waters. I am sure my colleague, the Minister of the Environment, will be very articulate in describing exactly what it is that we are doing.

Devils Lake Diversion Project June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I can say that it is certainly not because of the interest of that member or of the Conservatives, who have shown absolutely no support for this government or any interest in the government taking any action on this issue.

This is absolutely a catch-up exercise for them, with the Conservatives trying to catch up at this time while we have been at work for years. We have garnered a lot of support.

That is typical Conservative propaganda. The lady stands in the House and asks what support there is. I have been very proud to see all of the support that the Canadian position has garnered in the United States.

The Conservatives say, “What is this?” They say, “We do not believe that”. One cannot confuse the Conservatives with the hard facts. That is the problem. They have absolutely no true interest in this except scoring cheap political points.

We want a resolution for this. We will want a defence of the Boundary Waters Treaty. We have engaged with the White House and the environment commission. There are discussions going on right now to make sure that we will avoid the transfer of species into Lake Winnipeg and the Red River.

We want action and concrete development over this and we are going to get there with the support of Manitobans, all Canadians and a lot of Americans. That is what really counts on this issue.

Devils Lake Diversion Project June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this emergency debate on the Devils Lake outlet.

I will be sharing my time with my colleague and friend, the Minister of the Environment, who is also very committed to this important issue for our government.

Canada believes the Boundary Waters Treaty is fundamental to the management and protection of the boundary and transboundary waters between Canada and the United States. We are very determined to defend the integrity of the treaty and the role of the International Joint Commission.

The government has conveyed Canada's concerns regarding the North Dakota Devils Lake outlet to the highest levels of the United States government on many occasions over the past number of years. We have worked diligently with the government of Manitoba and all Manitobans to present our concerns to the U.S. government.

We have garnered widespread support in the United States for our position on Devils Lake. The governors of Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio and congressional representatives from Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Washington and Arizona have all supported Canada's position on Devils Lake.

The Assembly of First Nations, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence mayors, the Great Lakes Commission and Premiers McGuinty and Charest of Ontario and Quebec have all voiced their concerns about the Devils Lake outlet.

Why has there been overwhelming support for Canada's position on Devils Lake? It is because everyone recognizes that a remarkable percentage of the border we share with the United States is made up of water. In fact, some 3,500 kilometres of the border, from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, is made up of boundary waters. That is a lot of water, and consequently, people on both sides of the border recognize the importance of binational management of the border waters. This is why so many diverse organizations and political leaders have supported Canada and our stand against the Devils Lake outlet.

Our work on Devils Lake began a number of years ago. We have consistently and repeatedly expressed our concerns that an outlet from Devils Lake would pose an environmental risk to the waters of the Red River and Lake Winnipeg.

Our position is quite simple. In 1909 Canada and the United Stages signed the Boundary Waters Treaty, under which both countries agreed to protect water resources on either side of the border. To quote from article 4 of the treaty:

--waters flowing across the boundary shall not be polluted on either side to the injury of health or property on the other.

To date, the Boundary Waters Treaty has proven extremely valuable to both countries. The independent, binational International Joint Commission, the IJC, was established by the treaty to provide the principles and mechanisms to help resolve disputes and prevent future ones, primarily those concerning water quantity and quality along the boundary between the United States and Canada. Preserving the integrity of the Boundary Waters Treaty is critical to both countries.

Canada first raised concerns about a possible state funded North Dakota outlet in 1999. We have consistently expressed our concerns about biota transfer from Devils Lake into the Red River and Lake Winnipeg. We have raised questions about the impact of the Devils Lake outlet on water quality in the Red River basin and what the socio-economic impact will be to downstream water users in Manitoba.

In 2002, the United States made a referral to the IJC, but concerning an entirely different reservoir proposed by the United States federal government.

The Conservatives are plain wrong when they say that the United States proposed a referral to the IJC for this project. It was for another project completely. It was about an outlet proposed by the federal authorities of the United States, not the one by the state of North Dakota. Things must be clear in the House.

Canada said at the time that it would be premature to send it to the joint commission as long as the environmental assessment had not been completed.

The 2002-03 environmental assessment was very contentious. The project was strongly opposed, particularly by Minnesota, Missouri, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Canada and Manitoba.

Canada announced it was prepared to discuss several North Dakota water diversion plans being developed at the time, which may have repercussions under the Boundary Waters Treaty.

When the state of North Dakota began construction of the Devils Lake outlet, we made our concerns known and we sought assurances from the United States that the Boundary Waters Treaty would be respected. This is why in April 2004 we asked the United States to join with us in referring the Devils Lake outlet project to the International Joint Commission for an independent, scientific assessment of the outlet.

The International Joint Commission has a proven track record in helping the governments of Canada and the United States resolve difficult and contentious issues along our shared waters.

Over the past number of months, the government has pulled out all stops in our effort to reach a resolution on Devils Lake. Ambassador McKenna has called on congressional leaders and met with governors to discuss Canada's concerns with the outlet and to seek their support in referring this to the International Joint Commission. The Prime Minister has spoken to the president to underline the importance of Devils Lake to Canada. This type of leadership is making a difference and is welcomed and recognized by our supporters.

Let me quote from an article authored by the Friends of the Earth. It states, “To his credit, Canada's Prime Minister...has raised Canada's concerns about the Devils Lake scheme directly with [President Bush]”. Not only has the Prime Minister intervened, but cabinet ministers have spoken to their U.S. colleagues to ensure that everyone is aware of Canada's concerns.

Although we are still working hard to find a resolution, our efforts to date have met with some success. We have been able to dramatically raise awareness about our concerns with the outlet and, more important, we have reached out and obtained the support of dozens of members of Congress, mayors, governors, environmental organizations and U.S. editorial writers.

Because of our intensive efforts, we now have the White House Council of Environmental Quality involved in the discussions. Those discussions are continuing and this government is committed to pursuing a solution that protects Canada's environment and respects the Boundary Waters Treaty.

Canada is determined to find a solution that respects the Boundary Waters Treaty, that commits both governments to cooperating in order to prevent transboundary pollution. Whether through the International Joint Commission or any other mechanism that works with the treaty, our goal is to find a solution to prevent the migration of invasive species from Devils Lake.

Foreign Affairs June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, I can tell members that our government has always been vigilant. My parliamentary secretary has been paying a lot of attention to precisely those cases and has travelled around the world to help Canadians, as do our consular services. We have triple the number of consular cases across Canada, given the situation we are in.

I can tell members that our embassies, consulates and consular services are there for Canadians. However, Canadians must take some responsibility as well and check with our website, and check the locations where they are travelling. We must take some responsibilities. The world out there is not always the way we would like it to be.

Foreign Affairs June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, that family has even thanked the Canadian government and the Department of Foreign Affairs for the excellent work we did in this regard.

Making public reference to a ransom is not a very responsible thing to do. The family asked specifically that we adopt the attitude we have taken.

We are asking Canadians not to travel to Haiti at this time, unless they have extremely important or urgent reasons for doing so. At present, the situation in terms of safety is precarious and difficult.

We will not comment on a specific case, in keeping with the family's wishes and our sense of duty.

Natural Resources June 21st, 2005

Mr. Speaker, let us correct the record on this fact that has been circulating around here. The fact that the member has raised is absolutely not true. Canada has never refused to go to the IJC. We said at that time that on the preliminary project it might be premature, but we never denied and we never refused going to the IJC. On the contrary, on an earlier draft of the project, we simply said that we needed the full project to go on it, on the basis of the reality.

This is just wrong.

Haiti June 20th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, people should know that Canada is determined to promote democracy in Haiti, and nothing will stop us.

This conference in Montreal was an opportunity to review the progress and the problems one year after the mobilization of the international community. The Haitian government has identified its priorities in terms of security, energy, social gains and rapid job creation. We have mobilized $40 million for these immediate priorities of the Haitian government in these areas.

A proposal was made to the government to give Elections Canada an international mission to monitor Haitian elections—