Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was tax.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Bloc MP for Portneuf (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2006, with 26% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tembec Mill May 18th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, for years, the Bloc Québécois has been calling upon the government to come up with an effective plan to assist the forestry products industry in Quebec.

Some 403 workers have been hard hit by this government's inaction and incompetence. Tembec has announced it is closing three sawmills in Quebec. When the Tembec mill in Saint-Raymond ceases operations on May 28, 165 of my constituents will lose their jobs.

However, both Tembec and the workers tried to keep the mill profitable and operational by proudly manufacturing a high added value product. These many families earn their livelihood doing this work.

The government's failure in international trade and the forestry industry undermines the ability of our companies to compete. To add insult to injury, the Liberal government is accumulating astronomical surpluses in the EI fund, dipping into it freely and steadfastly refusing to correct this program's inequities.

This says a great deal about the Liberal government, which is more concerned with staying in power artificially than with giving any thought to the financial insecurity of workers who lose their jobs.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005 May 17th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I have never seen an MP less concerned about her constituents. She is absolutely remiss in her duty.

Yesterday, I had the sad task of having to explain in this House why the budget and the two budget implementation bills do not recognize the realities and problems currently in place in Quebec. Hon. members will recall that there was a farmers' protest yesterday on Parliament Hill. Last evening, I got a call from a forest products company, Tembec, announcing that four of its plants were going to shut down or cut back on operations.

For years, the Bloc Québécois has been calling upon the government to come up with an effective plan to assist the forest industry and its workers. We have yet to see any sign of it. For years we have been demanding a government plan to assist older workers. At the very least, when plants are closed, we want to see assistance programs made available to those who lose their jobs.

I hope that the hon. member will come to my riding to explain how Bill C-48 is going to help the unemployed of Saint-Raymond and Saint-Léonard. There is another plant in Brantford, Ontario, where I hope she will go as well. I also invite her to my colleague's riding of Abitibi—Témiscamingue, where another will be closing. I hope the hon. member is going to look out for the real interests of her fellow citizens.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments May 16th, 2005

Madam Speaker, I know my colleague has her heart in the right place, and wants to do the right thing, but the problem is that she has been taken in by a fool's bargain. She has agreed to trust this government. The past is an indicator of the future, we must admit.

A year ago, this same government was telling us that people knew enough about the sponsorship scandal, and that the election did not need to be put off until the end of the Gomery inquiry. This year it is telling us the opposite.

Since 1998, this government has been telling us that it was not very certain that there would be a surplus, that caution was needed, that we needed to take care. Year after year, huge surpluses have been kept outside the public debate. When this bill is passed, there will be nothing to force the government to spend that money. It is a simple as that.

I know the hon. member has her heart in the right place but, I regret to say, she has been taken in.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments May 16th, 2005

Madam Speaker, first, I want to quote the start of the budget speech by the Minister of Finance:

Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to all those who have helped in the preparation of this 2005 federal budget—from the many organizations and professional groups that presented expert briefs, to Canadians from every corner of the country who submitted individual letters and ideas.

Their contributions, their counsel and their concerns have helped shape the budget I am tabling today.

The minister was telling tales. Bill C-48 makes this clear. At the first sign of significant pressure, he introduced a bill devoid of logic that negates all the consultations that occurred in the months preceding the tabling of the budget, including those held by the Standing Committee on Finance.

The Bloc Québécois voted against this budget when it was tabled. I simply want to briefly remind the House why. First, this budget did not propose any solution to the fiscal imbalance. Also, it made no attempt to respond to the needs of Quebeckers, with regard to EI, for example. There was no specific plan to implement the Kyoto protocol. Things have even gotten worse, since a bad plan for implementing the protocol was tabled. Today, farmers protested in front of the House of Commons. This budget did not meet their needs whatsoever. The same is true of international aid. This budget, like Bill C-43, has no respect whatsoever for Quebec's areas of jurisdiction.

We voted against the budget and we will vote against the budget implementation bills, meaning Bills C-48 and C-43.

What is even more disturbing about Bill C-48 is that it is nothing but an empty shell. I may not have as many years in this House as some, but I do not believe I have ever seen such a senseless bill. It contains no minimums, only maximums, and no specific time lines. The amounts are contingent on whatever surplus there will be at the end of a fiscal year.

Mind you, I am not worried about the existence of a surplus. I am, in fact, sure that the actual surplus at the end of the fiscal year will be far more than set out in the budget. This is an old trick, one used by the previous government, and still being used by this one.

This bill does not reflect a number of realities, including the realities of Quebec. Once again, it encroaches on Quebec's jurisdiction, over education in particular.

This is, without a doubt, a hollow bill, and I find it hard to understand why the NDP got involved in this with no guarantee that its requirements would be respected. That was made clear when the NDP leader had to remind the Prime Minister that the corporate income tax reductions, which he required in exchange, were not in the bill. The Prime Minister then had to suddenly pull a rabbit out of a hat and say that this bill was going to apply only to fiscal years 2006-07 and 2007-08, and that the reductions would come the year after, anyway, so he did not need to cancel them.

This is a fine example of a fool's deal. I am sure they meant well. I have to say, however, in this House, that the NDP has been had. These are last minute add ons, the desperate efforts of a Prime Minister to try to buy another election. This time, perhaps, with dirty money—we will see—but certainly with taxpayers' money.

If Bill C-48 at least resolved the problems in the budget or in Bill C-43. But no, not even. To some extent, it is worsening things.

Once again, Bill C-48 ignores the fiscal imbalance completely. They will invest money in Kyoto, but the plan remains a bad one. I note that there is neither a minimum nor a timetable. They continue to invest in areas of jurisdiction, without a specific plan. They talk a lot about lowered tuition fees. In Quebec, we were not consulted a whole lot. Had we been, they would know that tuition fees are already very low, the lowest in Canada.

In terms of social housing, we immediately supported the requests of various groups in this regard. The latest budget made no provision at all. At the last minute, they aligned figures, but no string is attached. Nothing in this bill will require the government to spend these amounts.

After years of draconian cuts in transfer payments to the provinces, they claim to be reinvesting in postsecondary education. That represents only 11.5% of the money the federal government is investing. Is there a little money in this bill? Perhaps. Once again, no minimum amount, no timetable for the conditions attached to the payment of these amounts and no guarantee it will be done.

It is a last minute announcement. The worst of it is that this government has no qualms telling people, voters, that, if it is not re-elected, the money will never be invested. It is trying once again to frighten voters by saying the money will disappear if the government is defeated. This is the government that ignored education when it presented its 2005 budget.

In the case of the environment, as I mentioned earlier, the Kyoto plan is a bad one. I am far from convinced that an injection of money will improve the situation. In fact, it could even worsen it. The Kyoto protocol is badly suited to the situation in Quebec, specifically.

In terms of international aid, the February 23, 2005, federal budget does not provide any new money, as you will recall. The Bloc Québécois demands that the government draft a serious, long-term plan to achieve the UN target of 0.7% of GDP by 2015.

Bill C-48 authorizes the government to reach agreements with municipalities, agencies and individuals. In the case of municipalities, again, it is a clear encroachment on the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces.

Worse yet are the foundations. This has come up quite often in this House. The government, with no real plan and not knowing what to do with its surplus, gives money to the foundations. For the most part, this money has not yet been used. I have even raised certain cases of foundations that have more money in the bank now than when they received the payments. It is important to say that Bill C-48 seems to authorize payments to foundations.

In closing, we will vote against the budget because it is bad for Quebec. Implementation bills, including Bill C-43, just keep repeating the same mistakes. Bill C-48 is an empty shell designed to buy votes with taxpayer dollars.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments May 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, not so long ago, the Minister of Finance rose in this House to praise his fantastic budget which, as far as he was concerned, was perfect, the eighth wonder of the world. Today, because of Bill C-43, the Minister of Finance got the slap on the hand he deserved from his Prime Minister who, not so long ago, tried to buy the conscience of Quebeckers with dirty money, and is now trying to buy an election with taxpayers' money.

Bill C-43 is an empty shell. I heard the member opposite say that he knows the priorities of Canadians and Quebeckers. I believe that in Quebec, like in the rest of Canada, people are asking for something more specific than a bunch of figures that mean absolutely nothing.

The member had a lot to say about post-secondary education, which is currently funded by the federal government to the tune of approximately 11%. The few extra bucks provided do not make a big difference. The member also had a lot to say about lowering tuition fees. I have news for him: tuition fees in Quebec are the lowest in Canada. Is that what he calls knowing the priorities?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments May 16th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, obviously, as the Conservative colleague made quite clear, the bill before us was thrown together at the last minute.

In fact, this bill lists a series of figures that mean absolutely nothing. No formal commitments, specific programs or minimums set out in any area of this bill are associated with any of these figures. I fail to comprehend or imagine how the NDP could have been naive enough to form an alliance with such a corrupt government.

My question to the member is as follows. Is my assessment right or wrong? Ultimately, all this government needs to do next year is to prepare a budget with a substantial increase in the number of expenditures. This will allow it to say that it did not achieve the expected $2 billion surplus. As a result, Bill C-48 will go nowhere.

The Budget May 9th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois asked the Prime Minister to resolve the fiscal imbalance and undertake a major overhaul of EI in his last budget. The Prime Minister rejected these demands out of hand. Instead, since tabling the budget, the Prime Minister continues to increase expenditures. He has added $13 billion in new initiatives solely to try to buy votes in the next election.

How can the Prime Minister justify that, in addition to using the dirty money, he is now trying to use taxpayer dollars to buy his election?

The Budget May 9th, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the amount promised by the Prime Minister in exchange for votes in the next election has reached $13 billion: $4.6 billion to buy the NDP votes, $5.75 billion to try to buy votes in Ontario and $3 billion on various pre-election promises here and there.

How can the Prime Minister refuse to resolve the fiscal imbalance and instead commit to spending several billion dollars, with the sole and obvious goal of buying votes for his government?

Sponsorship Program April 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, there is something else we want to verify. Benoît Corbeil says that he had a meal with the Prime Minister and Joe Morselli in 2002 at Chez Frank, a restaurant.

Can the Prime Minister confirm this statement by the former director general of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada?

Sponsorship Program April 22nd, 2005

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says he hardly knows the Boulays, whom he describes as mere acquaintances. However, Diane Deslauriers says that she saw the Prime Minister daily during the 1993 election campaign.

In light of Diane Deslauriers' statements, does the Prime Minister still maintain that Claude Boulay and Diane Deslauriers were just acquaintances?