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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was debate.

Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell (Ontario)

Won his last election, in 2004, with 48% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Interparliamentary Delegations February 1st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 34, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report from the Canadian Branch of the International Association of French-Speaking Parliamentarians concerning the 10th session of the Assemblée régionale for America meeting held in Lafayette, Louisiana, from September 15 to 19, 1993.

Interparliamentary Delegation January 31st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, a report from the Canadian section of the International Assembly of French-Speaking Parliamentarians concerning the nineteenth general assembly of this organization, held in Libreville, Gabon, from June 24 to July 3, 1993.

Petitions January 31st, 1994

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I had intended to present a report from an interparliamentary delegation today. Perhaps that particular proceeding was already called by the Speaker and I missed it, shall we say because of numerous conversations.

May we revert to that with unanimous consent?

Postal Services Review Act January 31st, 1994

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-203, an act to provide for the review of postal rates and services and to amend certain acts in consequence thereof.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this bill is to ensure that the public plays a role in the establishment of postal rates and the provision of postal services in Canada. It would establish a postal services review board which could then review proposed postal increases and if necessary order them cancelled if it was not in the public interest.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Speech From The Throne January 28th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity this afternoon to address this House and take part in the debate in reply to the throne speech. I want to start by congratulating the Speaker and all those who sit in the Chair in this great chamber.

I would also like to congratulate in a very special way the Prime Minister and our government on the contents of the throne speech. It was clear from day one that the government intended to follow through on the commitments made to Canadians during the election campaign in its famous red book.

A day rarely goes by without someone in my riding contacting me to request a copy of this celebrated document, this famous red book. It has become, if you will pardon the expression, a bible of sorts on how to restore the confidence of Canadians in government.

I admit that when we made this document public during the election campaign, I was a little worried, as were many candidates, about the risk we were taking by laying out our agenda for all to see.

But the wisdom of the leader of the Liberal Party, today the Prime Minister, in deciding to approach the Canadian electorate in such a way has been confirmed. Canadians took a close look at our platform.

And they said: yes, generally we like what we see. I know that not everyone agreed with every aspect of our program, but they told us, yes, here is an election program. Finally, someone has the courage to tell us what they intend to do, and we are prepared to trust people who are open and have nothing to hide. Therefore, I want to congratulate the Prime Minister once again for taking this stand.

I also want to thank the electors of the riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell for their support during the last election. They have chosen to return me to this place, which is very special for me and for all those who are here and indeed for our electors.

A former Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, once said there was no greater honour for a Canadian than to have this privilege of representing his or her fellow constituents in the highest court in the land, the Parliament of Canada.

I agree with that. I espouse that theory and I will attempt again to live up to those expectations of my constituents who have chosen to send me to this highest court in the land.

The makeup of the riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell is somewhat unique. My riding is home to some 100,000 people, 65 per cent of whom are Franco-Ontarians. Francophones thus make up the majority linguistic group in my riding. They are not assimilated. Nor have they lost their language and culture. In fact, 92 per cent of my constituents were born in Ontario. They have preserved their language and culture, despite what some of the members opposite might claim from time to time.

Of the other constituents of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, approximately 35 per cent are English and about 5 per cent are of other languages and cultures.

In Glengarry-Prescott-Russell there is the township of Cumberland. I had the opportunity of serving the people of that area since 1976 since I was first elected at the municipal level. I was re-elected to represent them in 1978 and in 1980. In 1981 I had the honour and privilege of sitting in the Ontario legislature and in 1984 I was elected to this House of Commons. I was

re-elected in 1988 and again in 1993 to represent the people of my area.

I owe a special thanks to the people of Cumberland township who allowed me to begin this career of public service.

I also have the honour of representing the counties of Prescott and Russell and for those of you who are somewhat familiar with the region, Prescott County was part of New France prior to the Constitution Act of 1791. The Township of Longueuil used to be the Longueuil seigneury before the Constitution Act. As those members on the other side who are historians know, there was also a seigneury in Kingston, the Frontenac seigneury.

I also have the honour of representing the people of Glengarry. Glengarry is a very special place in the history of Canada. It was there in 1784 that Sir John Johnson came from the United States with the United Empire Loyalists, or as they were known in those days the empire loyalist refugees.

That is what they were. They were people who took refuge and who came back to be under British dominion and who left the Mohawk Valley, came north across the St. Lawrence River and established the community of Williamstown. Williamstown in Glengarry was named after Sir William Johnson, the father of the founder of the community Sir John Johnson to whom I have already referred.

They established that community where the Northwest Company was subsequently established. The people of Williamstown then went on to explore other parts of Canada. They were people like Simon Fraser, Thompson, Johnson, and Alexander Mackenzie. They all lived in Williamstown in Glengarry. I am very proud to have the honour and privilege of representing such an historical place as Glengarry. I offer a special tribute to the people of Glengarry county.

There is a building in Glengarry where Sir John Johnson made a request of Governor Haldimand at Quebec for a special designation for his part of the colony which was then Quebec. He wanted a special region to be founded where the people would be able to have English laws under which they would live. This is because after the Quebec Act the Quebec civil code existed and land tenure was of the seigniorial kind and so on. He wanted his residents to have English customs, laws and land tenure.

I would make the argument that he wanted to establish a distinct society for the anglophones who had just moved into that part of what was then the colony of Quebec. He got it. It was called the Constitution Act of 1791 that established what then became the province of Upper Canada and it occurred right there in the village of Williamstown in the great county of Glengarry that I have the opportunity to represent.

The people from Scotland then came as a result of the highland clearances when the English barons decided to clear the highlands of Scotland to make room for sheep. Many people again became refugees. They crossed the ocean and came to Glengarry county to join with the United Empire Loyalists to form that great community that still exists.

Still today there are some few people in Glengarry who speak Gaelic. In many cases, of those who do not speak it, one would swear from their accent that they still do.

I have the very special honour and privilege of representing that area. I also have the honour of representing the native community of Akwesasne, a community which has been in turmoil, and still is, because of cigarette smuggling.

Some may say that it is nobody's fault but their own if Akwesasne natives are facing that problem, but that is not true. They too are victims. Consider the young resident of Akwesasne who was coaxed by the criminal element into carrying shipments of cigarettes across the Saint Lawrence River to earn $100, $200 or $300 a day and then buy a car or whatever else young people dream about, especially those who are out of work. He and others like him are victims of this smuggling business. Let us never forget that.

The smuggling problem is an extremely serious one. Yesterday, a minister in the Ontario Cabinet said that it was the kind of problem that existed only in Quebec. With all due respect, that is not true. Nearly 40 per cent of cigarettes in Ontario, not Quebec, are sold illegally. One out of every four illegal cigarettes in Canada travels through my riding, across the Akwesasne River.

Finally, every single day 1,000 cases of cigarettes enter Canada in my riding alone at $1,000 profit per case. That is a million dollars a day that the criminal element makes. Tomorrow morning when we all wake up we can think of it in the following way. Last night the criminals made another million dollars in eastern Ontario by profiteering at the expense of all of us and at the expense of those whom we represent.

Speech From The Throne January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question of my colleague. He no doubt realizes that almost everyone wants him to explain his statement and most Canadians who were watching their television set will understand why. His message was, to say the least, a bit confused; it was as clear as mud.

At the beginning of his speech, he spoke about the rights of the francophones outside Quebec, like me. He then talked about agriculture.

I would like to ask him a question about the francophones outside Quebec since I am one of the 500 000 francophones living in Ontario. If I am not mistaken, the Bloc Quebecois position as it was explained to us twenty minutes ago is more or less as follows: Quebec should split from the rest of Canada because the rights of francophones in Ontario have not been properly respected. I must say I have a hard time understanding that statement.

If Quebec were sovereign, how would that improve the respect shown for the rights of francophones in Ontario? How would that improve the situation of Franco-Ontarians?

After that, maybe the member could explain- no. I will stop here and let my colleagues ask other questions.

Cigarette Smuggling January 27th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, our country is faced with a serious smuggling problem. As a non-smoker, I am generally in favour of high taxes on tobacco to help discourage young people from smoking.

However, the reality in Canada today is completely different. Because of the smuggling problem in our country, almost any young Canadian can buy cigarettes cheaply, even illegally. Moreover, those same young people can participate in and profit from this illegal activity controlled by the undesirable elements in our society. We have no choice, Mr. Speaker. We must put an end to this illegal activity by reducing, however temporarily, taxes on tobacco. We have to work together to enforce the laws of our country.

Tobacco Smuggling January 20th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, tobacco smuggling is not a victimless crime. When tobacco is smuggled taxes are lost, revenue is lost. Our country needs this revenue in order to fund social programs, lower the deficit and also of course to fund job creation initiatives.

There are even more important reasons yet why we want to curb tobacco smuggling. It is because the crime of selling and buying illegal cigarettes is associated with violence and disrespect for law. More sinister is the fact that the money from this activity ends up straight in the pockets of motorcycle gangs, the underworld and other undesirables. Those moneys are used to fund more crime, more violence, gun running and so on.

Let us all work together to put an end to tobacco smuggling in Canada.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague from the other side and I take this opportunity to congratulate him on being elected

to Parliament. I had the privilege of meeting him at conferences when we were both members of provincial legislatures; I do not recall wether it was at the International Assembly of French-Speaking Parliamentarians or at other forums. In any case, I am glad to see him here.

I would like to ask him a question which is rather relevant, I think. A few minutes ago, he said in his remarks that the minister responsible for federal-provincial issues had said yes in more ways than one, I won't repeat them all, to initiatives aimed at avoiding duplication. According to the member, we have heard it only too often and things have been dragging on for far too long since the Liberals came to power.

Did the member forget that today is the first one of the session and that there was only one answer and that it was yes? If the member is not satisfied with a positive answer, can we conclude that he would have preferred a negative one that would have boosted his position and allowed him to say that the federal government is unwilling to do anything for them, thereby pointing out the failure of federalism? In other words he is saying to us that a yes is not enough, that things have been going on for too long. The first day in Parliament, we said yes right away, but even that took too long. Maybe we should have said yes before the question was asked? Perhaps that is the solution.

Speech From The Throne January 19th, 1994

Madam Speaker, I heard with interest the comments of our hon. colleague from Beaver River. I remember the days in the last session when I was sitting on the other side of the House and the several times we had an opportunity to speak to each other on an informal basis as members do.

I would not want Canadians to think it is only with the advent of this Parliament that members have been friendly to each other across party lines. They have had the opportunity of knowing and assisting each other notwithstanding that they may have disagreed on policy or otherwise.

I want to congratulate the hon. member on her recent marriage. I wish her and her husband the best.

I have a question for the hon. member about the issues of recall and that of free votes. I am a fervent believer in increasing the number of free votes. Indeed the mother of Parliaments has considerably more free votes than we do. Government bills are often defeated by government members and the government does not fall automatically or an election is not called. We have twisted that convention very badly out of shape in Canada throughout the years.

By increasing the free votes we also increase, in my opinion, the influence of those who lobby parliamentarians. Quite often the fraternity we have, for lack of a better word, keeps us together and to a degree fends off the influence of lobbyists.

Would the member not agree with me that together with increasing free votes we have to increase the rules governing lobbyists and the registration of lobbyists in Canada?

Finally I would like to ask our colleague as well about recall and to give an opinion on that. Her and I are going to have to disagree on that one. I believe I was elected to make decisions on behalf of my constituents. I am to stand before them at the next election having had their opinions in mind all of the time. I must stand not just on one issue but on my overall performance as an MP and let them judge me at the next election. After all, I probably voted against the majority of my constituents on such things as abortion, and probably similarly on such things as capital punishment, and I was returned here with a relatively comfortable majority.

I believe very much in the Edmund Burke philosophy in that regard, that once elected you are a member for your constituency and for the country as a whole. You must stand on your record. If you do not do that you will always only represent the majority and never the minority within your own constituency.